Basic Stats: 14.4 PPG, 6.2 RPG, 2.5 APG, .41 3p%, .46 FG%
Prior to the beginning of the 2013-2014 NBA season, I don’t think any of us expected Trevor Ariza to emerge as one of the league’s best 3-and-D players, especially after the season Martell Webster had last year. Well, after beating out Martell Webster for the starting small forward spot in training camp even though Webster had inked a new contract with Washington, it became apparent that Trevor Ariza would be a key player in the nation’s capital.
Much like Webster last year, Trevor Ariza benefited greatly from playing along side a distributing point guard like John Wall. Ariza hasn’t always been capable of knocking down shots from deep, but made nearly 41% of his three point attempts during the regular season, making him a huge part of Washington’s offense. John Wall’s ability to drive to the basket and kick the ball out, as well as his patented skip pass to the corner, gave Trevor Ariza an opportunity to earn a living from knocking down open three point shots. As Grantland’s Kirk Goldsberry pointed out, John Wall and Trevor Ariza were the best “corner three combo” and while they combined for 53 made shots from that spot, it was 20 more than the second duo–Goran Dragic and P.J. Tucker. Simply put, John Wall helped rejuvenate Trevor Ariza’s career.
(Trevor Ariza’s shot chart from this season–via NBA.COM)
With that said, Trevor Ariza was much more than just a three point shooter and we saw him become arguably the most effective defender on Washington’s roster this season. Before getting a chance to start and finish games for the Wizards, Trevor Ariza was always considered to be a good perimeter defender, but his abilities were never showcased the way they were this season. Not only was he an important part of Washington’s offense, but he took the challenge of shutting down the opposing team’s best player on a nightly basis, which included the likes of Kevin Durant and Carmelo Anthony. Even though he didn’t get much recognition on the NBA All-Defensive Team voting, he was certainly one of the league’s best perimeter defenders.
Next Season and Improvement:
Like many of Washington’s key players, Trevor Ariza will be an unrestricted free agent this summer, and though he has expressed interest in returning to the nation’s capital, his future is still somewhat uncertain. Ariza has had a tendency to play pretty well during contract seasons and I’m not sure he’ll be able to replicate what he did this season next year. Now, I’m not saying Ariza isn’t capable of playing the way he did this season, but his shooting numbers were off the charts and it’s tough to gauge whether or not he could continue playing at such a high level, especially since he’s been rather inconsistent throughout his career.
Otto Porter is expected to play a bigger role in Washington, and with Martell Webster still on the books for the next few seasons, Trevor Ariza could find himself playing for another team next season. That doesn’t necessarily mean that Washington won’t look to bring him back, but at this point, I think they have bigger holes to fill than re-signing Ariza to a long term deal. I wouldn’t be surprised if Ariza is back in a Wizards uniform next season, nor would I be disappointed if he is, but it’s just as important to look towards the future as it is the sake of continuity.
Ariza was absolutely fantastic this season and I’m sure he’ll have success wherever he lands this summer.
Final Grade: A