John Wall is the All Star point guard. Bradley Beal is the shooting specialist. Nene and Marcin Gortat are the big men who dominate the glass. Yet, Trevor Ariza could be considered the most important player on the Washington Wizards.
As evidenced by the Game 1 victory by Washington over the Indiana Pacers, Trevor Ariza has an extremely deft three-point touch. He’s not going to go 6 for 6 from deep every game, however having another player to keep the floor spread, instead of just Bradley Beal, is integral as it allows John Wall to have more room to make plays. In his second year for the Wizards, Ariza has dramatically improved shooting from behind the arc. In fact, this is the first season he has ever shot over 40 percent.
Along with his shooting on offense, Ariza’s defense and ability to be a two-way player is what makes him such a main cog in the Wizards’ roster. This series against the Pacers, Ariza will be the main defender on Paul George. Even with George’s recent struggles, he is still an extremely talented and athletic player. However, it seems that Ariza is up to the task. Take the Chicago Bulls series, for example. In Game 3, Mike Dunleavy went 12-19 with 35 points lit up Ariza and the Wizards. However, Ariza rose up to the challenge in Game 4, holding Dunleavy to six points in a crucial victory for Washington.
Perhaps the most significant piece that Ariza brings the Wizards is previous experiences in his career. In the 2008-2009 NBA season, Ariza won a championship with the Los Angeles Lakers. At the time, he averaged a career high 11.3 points and 4.2 rebounds per game. Since that victory, Ariza made the Playoffs once and lost in the first round.
The Wizards have been one of the biggest surprises of the NBA Playoffs, thus far. They upset an extremely popular Bulls team and are tied with the Pacers in the second round, and so many are already calling this season a win, no matter what happens from here on out. However, Ariza knows that these chances don’t come along that often.
The Wizards should not just accept defeat because who knows what could happen next season. Trevor Ariza’s veteran leadership and knowledge, that this team may not have another chance like this, should be a catalyst for the young Wizards. Without Ariza as the glue-guy, the Wizards would not have made it this far, but with him; the Wizards have a chance to pull off something special.