This Year’s Trevor Ariza : TAI Wizards Player Previews 2013-14
[Truth About It.net player previews of Washington Wizards in 2013-14 -- For each player on this year's roster of 15, we take a look at what's at stake, an interesting statistic, and finally, where that player needs to improve (or excel) to make successful contributions toward a playoff goal.]
Eric Maynor via Conor Dirks; Garrett Temple via Adam McGinnis;
Otto Porter via Adam Rubin; Glen Rice, Jr. via Rashad Mobley;
Trevor Ariza via John C. Townsend; Trevor Booker via Adam Rubin;
Al Harrington via Kyle Weidie; Chris Singleton via Adam McGinnis;
Kevin Seraphin via Sean Fagan; Martell Webster via John C. Townsend;
Jan Vesely via Kyle Weidie & Lukas Kuba; Nene Hilario via Rashad Mobley;
Emeka Okafor via Sean Fagan;
Bradley Beal via Kyle Weidie; John Wall via Conor Dirks.
WHAT’S AT STAKE.
“We need to have a guy that can knock shots down with that second group,” Randy Wittman said Sunday, responding to a question from the Washington Post‘s Michael Lee about his decision to designate Martell Webster as the team’s 6th man.
That means it’s now (un)official: Trevor Ariza will be the starting small forward for your 2013-14 Washington Wizards. It also probably means that Wittman sees the defensive boost he gets from Ariza to be worth more than the offensive firepower Webster provides.
Webster was the meanest quick-draw in D.C. last season—attempting the most 3s per game (4.3) but also hitting them at the highest clip (42.2%). When the Wizards needed buckets from range, Webster responded. (“I’m your huckleberry.”) He earned a spot in the starting lineup.
Ariza had been advertised as a big-name starter in media guides to start the 2012-13 season, his first with Wizards after being traded from New Orleans in the summer. He started in all but two of the Wizards’ first 15 games—he’d started 206 of 207 for a handful of teams before that—but would see just two starts afterward. A calf strain, then flu, and later a sore knee kept him sidelined, or coming off the bench.
Webster, on a one-year contract, seized his opportunity and shot the lights out, which won him a four-year, $22 million renewal this past summer. But now it’s Webster who is hobbled (sprained ankle) and Ariza who finds himself back in the saddle as a starter, in a contract year, and perhaps being trotted to catch the eye of a scheming GM (trade bait in return for a frontcourt player).
(Somewhere in between Webster’s payday and injury, Otto Porter’s time as Rookie of the Year candidate and frontcourt wünderkind came and went.)
What’s at stake? Wins. Playoffs? Probably. The Wizards went 2-17 with Ariza as a starter last season. Webster went 26-36 and is the team’s best small forward.
I ran a query for players since 1946-47 who shot at least 200 3-pointers, made less than 42 percent of their field goal attempts, and grabbed more than 220 rebounds in under 1,500 minutes. (Trevor Ariza met the criteria, by design.)
The machine at Basketball-Reference.com returned this (ordered by total starts):
- Byron Mullens | 2013-13 | CHA | 41 starts (53 games played)
- Andres Nocioni | 2009-10 | SAC | 28 starts (75 games played)
- Trevor Ariza | 2012-13 | WAS | 15 starts (56 games played)
- Mike Dunleavy, Jr. | 2009-10 | IND | 15 starts (67 games played)
- Scott Burrell | 1999-00 | NJN | 9 starts (74 games played)
- Eddie Griffin | 2004-o5 | MIN | 0 starts (70 games played)
- Charlie Villanueva | 2012-13 | DET | 0 starts (69 games played)
Analysis, in numbered bullets:
- There is one legitimate starter-for-a-lottery-team in the above group. Your pick between Mullens or Ariza.
- The two players with the highest win shares? Scott Burrell and Eddie Griffin (3.2). (Flip Saunders was Griffin’s head coach for part of ’04-05 in Minnesota. Saunders was fired in February and replaced by Kevin McHale, then VP of Player Ops.)
- Three players put up those numbers entering a contract season: Dunleavy, Villanueva, and Trevor Ariza, owed $7.73 million this year. None were re-signed when their contracts expired.
- The other four guys? Four new teams.
- Trevor Ariza is in the Wizards’ starting five… It doesn’t quite add up.
ROOM FOR IMPROVEMENT.
I’m going to play a tape for you… You will recognize the speaker immediately.
*you recognize Ernie Grunfeld’s voice immediately*
“In Ariza, we get a wing player in the frontcourt that has been on a championship team, has been in the playoffs. He’s a very versatile player that runs the floor very well, very good defender, and is a hard-nosed competitor that can guard multiple positions. He brings a winning spirit, and he’s only 26 years old, almost 27. He’s a young veteran.”
Defense. Ariza did that just fine in that department during his first year in D.C. He finished tied for third on the team in Defensive Rating (points allowed per 100 possessions) with Nene and, surprisingly, Chris Singleton at 101. He also finished top 30 (29th) in points per play allowed, according to mySynergySports.com:
The chart above suggests that Ariza was, if not elite, very good at defending spot-up shooters and screen action (including the pick-and-roll), and was capable enough when matched up against power forwards. But if Ariza is going to succeed as the Wizards’ starting small forward—in place of the sharp-shooting and much more efficient Martell Webster—then he has to take care of business on the offensive end.
His best chance is to position himself to succeed along the 3-point line. Ariza shot a career-high 36.4 percent from 3 last season. On spot-ups, Ariza’s number one shot (137 of his 209 3-point attempts), he was fantastic: 40.1 percent. However, in transition, Ariza’s accuracy fell to 27.7 percent. Why? Too many heaves from above the break.
Overall, Ariza attempted 59.3 percent of his 3s above the break but shot 29 percent. From the corners, he shot 47 percent. Webster, to compare, attempted 53.8 percent of his 3s above the break, shooting 37.3 percent. Despite being less likely than Ariza to take an above-the-break 3, Webster made twice as many shots from that zone.
Maybe hoping for better 3-point shooting from Ariza is unrealistic. Ariza is a career 32.5 percent shooter from deep. Better to hope he’s so comfortable in Wittman’s offense he can play with autopilot engaged, because last year he sometimes looked like he was learning to drive. Stop. Go. Wrong turn. Fender bender.
Ariza can be a ball-stopper in the worst ways.
BONUS: ARIZA AND HIS OXEN
Ariza got hype from Grunfeld for having been to the postseason. But Ariza wasn’t the star attraction on any of those four playoff squads. So, what could “winning spirit” be worth?
Spoiler alert: Less than you might think.
Over Ariza’s nine-year NBA career, he has averaged 2.9 win-shares during the regular season (in other words, Ariza has contributed 2.9 wins to his team per season, on average). He has started for just one playoff team, the 2010-11 Hornets, 75 games. Otherwise, Ariza has started a total of 30 regular season games for three playoff teams.
In his playoff runs, Ariza averaged 3.625 win shares. Playoff teams win more games than non-playoff teams, so that slight improvement doesn’t amount to much…
Third-year center Dwight Howard contributed nearly 10 wins to the playoff-bound Magic in 2006-07. Kobe Bryant (13.8) and Lamar Odom (9.7) carried the Lakers to the Finals in 2007-08. Kobe (13.7) and Odom (6.9) were at it again the next year, this time with the help of Pau Gasol (13.9), who settled in Hollywood after being traded from Memphis. Chris Paul (13.9), David West (7.8) and Emeka Okafor (6.5) were the sting in New Orleans’ trip to the postseason.
Ariza’s average win-share rank during the regular season of his playoff runs is 6.5. He’s been as ranked as low as 11 but never higher than 5. Remember, only five players start and there are no more than 15 players rostered at any one time.
Below, find partial rosters of Ariza’s playoff teams. The top seven players are listed by regular season win-shares (the estimated number of wins the player contributed), non-starters italicized:
1. Dwight Howard
2. Grant Hill
3. Hedo Turkoglu
4. Jameer Nelson
5. Trevor Ariza
6. Darko Milicic
7. Tony Battie
2007-08 Lakers :
1. Kobe Bryant
2. Lamar Odom
3. Derek Fisher
4. Andrew Bynum
5. Pau Gasol
6. Ronny Turiaf
10. Luke Walton
11. Trevor Ariza (traded to L.A. by Orlando)
12. Kwame Brown
1. Pau Gasol
2. Kobe Bryant
3. Lamar Odom
4. Derek Fisher
5. Trevor Ariza
6. Andrew Bynum
7. Sasha “Machine” Vujačić
1. Chris Paul
2. David West
3. Emeka Okafor
4. Marco Bellinelli
5. Trevor Ariza
6. Jarrett Jack
7. Willie Green
2012-13 Wizards (not in the playoffs, obviously):
1. Martell Webster
2. John Wall
3. Emeka Okafor
5. Trevor Ariza
6. Bradley Beal
7. Trevor Booker