Trevor Ariza: 2013-14 Washington Wizards Player Review
TAI’s 2013-14 Washington Wizards player reviews…Now: Trevor Ariza (by Conor Dirks).
Others (so far): Andre Miller (by Rashad Mobley); Drew Gooden (by John Converse Townsend); Kevin Seraphin (by Kyle Weidie); Martell Webster (by Adam Rubin); Al Harrington (by Kyle Weidie); Garrett Temple (by Adam Rubin); Trevor Booker (by Adam Rubin); Glen Rice, Jr. (by John Converse Townsend); Chris Singleton (by Kyle Weidie).
6-8 : Height
220 lbs. : Weight
28 : Age
10 : Years NBA Experience
6 : NBA Teams
Traded from New Orleans to Washington along with Emeka Okafor
in exchange for Rashard Lewis and a 2nd round pick in June 2012;
Ariza opted-into $7.7 million last season and is now an unrestricted free agent.
Time as a Wizard in 2013-14
77 : Games
77 : Starts
2,723 : Minutes
NBA historical PER contribution equivalent:
maybe Peja Stojakovic with the 2007-08 New Orleans Hornets (15.7)
maybe Jamal Mashburn with the 1999-2000 Miami Heat (15.4)
maybe Richard Jefferson with the 2008-09 Milwaukee Bucks (15.4)
.141 Win Shares/48 Minutes
NBA historical WS/48 contribution equivalent:
maybe Doug Christie with the 2000-01 Sacramento Kings (.141)
maybe Richard Hamilton with the 2006-07 Detroit Pistons (.141)
With Ariza ON the court vs. off
The Wizards offense scored 4.9 points more per 100 possessions (OffRtg)
The Wizards defense allowed 3.7 points less per 100 possessions (DefRtg)
Plus/Minus per 48 minutes: plus-3.5
Numbers, per 36 Minutes
14.6 : Points
6.3 : Rebounds
0.3 : Blocks
1.7 : Steals
2.5 : Assists
1.7 : Turnovers
2.4 : Fouls
Ariza had 1,201 offensive possessions with the Wizards that ended with a FGA, TO or FTs, and he scored 1.07 Points Per Possession (PPP) on those, ranked 38th in the NBA (via Synergy Sports Technology). Defensively, he allowed 0.84 PPP over 915 possessions, ranked 108th in the NBA.
45.6% Field Goals (389-853)
40.7% 3-Pointers (180-442)
77.2% Free Throws (149-193)
What did we expect?
What John Converse Townsend wrote about Trevor Ariza in his late-October 2013 player preview:
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.
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.
As John’s preview indicates, there was a certain amount of unease regarding Randy Wittman’s choice to replace Martell Webster in the starting lineup with Trevor Ariza, who spent much of his first year with the Wizards dribbling aimlessly around the court, haunted by the notion that NBA players must also be ballhandlers. Ariza’s hookahstep—the head-down, shaky-hand circle path to the basket that looks like it’s drawn with a broken protractor—never feels easy, or natural. That certainly didn’t change.
But most everything else did.
Ariza abandoned the kitchen sink in favor of the niche. It’s a bit of a modified Icarus: in Houston and New Orleans, Ariza tried to do everything that is normally expected of a featured scorer. And because he was never meant to occupy such a role, his post-2009 plummet from Finals hero to salary dump also-ran seemed like it would inevitably end in the ocean. But at some point between his first season with the Wizards and his second, Ariza’s burned wings regenerated just enough to halt the fall. As the season wore on, and the Wizards seemed, for a variety of unsavory, overdrummed reasons relating to the state of the Eastern Conference, to still be relevant, the grumblings about Martell Webster’s benchnapping got shushed as firmly as me in a Randy Wittman press conference. To put it simply: Trevor Ariza fucked around and had a career year.
Ariza’s corner 3-point shooting prowess is well documented. Kirk Goldsberry’s essential “Rainmakers” piece this season identified Ariza as the player who made the most corner 3-point shots in the NBA. Of those 78 shots, 77 were assisted. Unsurprisingly, most (53) of those assists came from John Wall. It’s surreal to think that this is the same player who shot less than 50 3-pointers in his first four NBA seasons.
Necessity is the mother of invention, and no player on the Wizards embodied this mantra more than a reinvented Ariza on the precipice of NBA irrelevance. The Wizards did not run through Ariza, but he was the aqueduct passively pushing the Wizards offense forward. Ariza sacrificed activity for productivity, and each second of senseless rock-pounding he dropped at the altar allowed for the birth of a potentially good possession. Of course, Ariza could have been used more effectively and often, and his sacrifices were sometimes in vain, as Wall and Beal sometimes took up his discarded “too much” mantle.
Ariza’s defense, and his ability to guard most anyone effectively, was on display in the 2014 playoffs, when the Wizards swapped him onto whomever had been hot in the previous game, or even the previous quarter. Randy Wittman, when asked by David Aldridge about Ariza’s defense during the season, credited Ariza’s ability to read people’s eyes, and almost reluctantly admitted that Ariza’s ability to pillage a passing lane had forced him to acquiesce to Ariza’s defensive liberty in his otherwise strict scheme.
Ariza’s career year also happened to be a contract year. Ariza, now a free agent for the first time since he signed with Houston in 2009, will have choices. On the Wizards’ side, there are two valid options, both subject to the unfair perception of a non-existent Manichean dualism by alternate schools of thought.
Do the Wizards open up the checkbook for Ariza, once not much else but the last gasp of another team’s bad decision? There are some compelling reasons to do so. First, and foremost, is the team’s need for shooters. Beal, Ariza, and Webster were the team’s triumvirate of 3-point shooters, and their success from beyond the arc (too) often determined the outcome of a game. Losing Ariza would leave the Wizards incredibly thin on artillery. It would also mean losing a player capable of helping the team in a variety of ways. I’ve often used the title of an obscure aria in an obscure Italian opera called the Barber of Seville, “Largo al factotum,” to describe Ariza’s impact. Indeed, Ariza is the factotum, the handyman, the jack-of-all-trades (and now, with the corner 3-pointer, the master of one). Without Ariza, who among these Wizards could average 8.9 rebounds per game, guard the other team’s best offensive player, and shoot 44 percent on 3-pointers in the playoffs?
Of course, answers to these questions could emerge, and listing a parade of potential horribles isn’t the best way to make a bulletproof argument. More importantly, the answers to the above questions may not even be relevant. Which brings us to the other option: letting Ariza walk, painful as it might be. Depending on Ariza’s salary, the Wizards could use the money they’ve saved (potentially around $6-8 million) on several players, rather than just one, and could let their combined contributions equal or outnumber those of Ariza alone. A weak bench, fortified with the bones of the elderly Drew Gooden and Andre Miller late last season after the sacrifice of the lamb Jan Vesely, only exacerbates the need for an upgrade.
It’s also worth noting that re-signing Ariza means the small forward position would occupy around $18 million of Washington’s salary cap. Picture a piece of cold toast. That piece of cold toast is the Washington basketball franchise. There’s a rectangle of unmelted butter in the middle, and it’s not going anywhere. Eventually, you will take a bite of it, and you’ll wish that someone had taken the time to spread the butter around while the toast was still warm. The Wizards frontcourt is incredibly thin outside of small forward. Signing a contributor at the backup center position should be a priority for the team, but if the Wizards re-sign Ariza (and presumably Gortat), backups at the power forward and center position will have to come cheap, especially given the inflated cost of quality centers. Washington’s best bet might be to spread the butter around, and fulfill each individual role that solely Ariza filled this past season with, for lack of a better term, role players.
Things change in the NBA, and signing Ariza could be the harbinger of another move to come, but with the perpetually learning Otto Porter on the sideline, hands outstretched and waiting for his PT soup, something will have to give. Whether that something is Ariza, Webster, or even Otto Porter’s once-assured career, we will see. I hope you enjoyed this year’s Trevor Ariza as much as I did. If he never surfaces again, it will be a shame, of sorts.
The Wizards mounted an incredible comeback against the Houston Rockets in February, mostly thanks to John Wall’s passing and Ariza’s 3-point shooting (he hit 10 3-pointers in the game), and managed to steady themselves with a two-point lead with just four seconds remaining. What happened next wasn’t exactly Ariza’s fault, and as both Kyle Weidie and Phil Jackson freely admitted, the eventual call against Ariza while the Rockets were inbounding was a “SMH” moment. So, this isn’t necessarily a “Worst” moment for Ariza, per se (that may have come when he allowed Gerald Henderson to score 27 points in a Wizards win against the Bobcats), but when Ariza fouled out on this play, it left the Wizards without their best defender for the subsequent Harden game-winning layup.
Rim rejection, right idea.
Ariza set a career-high against the Philadelphia 76ers this season, scoring 40 points the easy way: 8-for-12 on 3-pointers, five makes at the rim, and one just-outside-the-paint shot to slightly up his degree of difficulty. At one point during the game, Ariza was a pristine 8-for-8 from behind the arc. You could guess—or Ariza might if you don’t—that he was living right.
Career high highlights.
Steaks and shopping, hints and bribes…
The Wizards, as in their players, love them some Threeza. Sweet Bradley Beal told SLAM that while he was in L.A. representing gaming behemoth Activision (of Call of Duty fame) at the annual video game expo, E3, he planned to take Trevor Ariza out to dinner in an effort to convince him to sign with the Wizards. Asked if he would pick up the tab at said dinner by SLAM‘s Abe Schwadron, Beal had this to say:
“Yeah, I might take him shopping, take him out to eat, get him a nice fat steak or something. Whatever it takes to convince him to come back. Whatever it takes.”
Hookah Soccer Schedule…