Every team needs a player like Trevor Ariza.
At 6-8, he can guard multiple positions, including the most vital area on the wing where elite scorers such as Carmelo Anthony of the New York Knicks and the Miami Heat’s LeBron James lurk.
“(He has the) ability to guard people without us having to really scheme or have to give a lot of help. The best-case scenario for a coach is everybody can guard their man one-on-one,” Wizards coach Randy Wittman said. “You don’t have to ever do any trapping, rotating. Trevor allows us to do that even when he’s guarding guys like Carmelo. That’s huge.”
Lately, that’s not all Ariza is doing. With the return of point guard John Wall, who didn't play until Jan. 12 because of a knee injury, Ariza has become more diverse on offense.
“Gets in passing lanes, steals, deflections, (he) gets us out on the break because of that. He’s making his spot-up three. … John (is) finding him,” Wittman said.
In his first season with the Wizards, Ariza has gone from being a starter with the New Orleans Hornets to a sixth man.
His 9.1 points, 4.6 rebounds and 3.7 assists per game represent his lowest outputs since his 2008-09 season with the Los Angeles Lakers. For the season, Ariza shooting isn't exceptional: 40.7% from the field, and just 34.1% from three.
Since Feb. 1, however, Ariza has reached double figures nine times going into Friday’s game at the Brooklyn Nets (CSN, 7:30 p.m. ET). In Ariza’s last 10 games, he’s shooting 46.1% from the field (41-for-89). In his last five, his three-point accuracy is 45.8% (11-for-24).
Ariza scored 16 points in the first half of Wednesday’s 87-82 loss to the Minnesota Timberwolves, but he went scoreless in the second half and missed all three of his three-point attempts.
The Wizards’ offense shut down as they had no viable scoring option on the perimeter with Bradley Beal out with a left ankle sprain. They didn't practice Thursday and Beal's status won't be known until he tests the ankle again at shootaround Friday.
Their chances of winning without Ariza's offense to fill that void aren't good.