Webster picks Ariza for starting job

Webster picks Ariza for starting job
October 1, 2013, 8:00 am
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FAIRFAX, Va. -- A battle is supposed to be taking place between Martell Webster and Trevor Ariza for the starting job at small forward.

Webster, however, already has made up his mind who it should be. His assessment of what has happened so far in training camp:

"If I had to critique the last few days I'd say he'd be the starting three right now. (It's) something he has on defense which is amazing. He makes open shots which makes it easy for John (Wall). On defense he has an asset you can't really teach. He plays it like a cornerback, has great anticipation skills, great defensive awareness. It's competitive.

"I love it. I don't care about the starting role. I already know that positions interchangeable and there's a chance I might play some two (shooting guard). Coming off the bench with the second unit is just as fun."

Ariza was the starter to start last season, but he sat with an injury, lost his spot and never really got it back as Webster had the best season of his career.

"I could say the same thing about him. That's just how we feel about each other," Ariza, who had to put ice on his left calf after Monday's three-hour practice, said when told of Webster's remarks. "We push each other out here. We just want the best for each other."

Even as Ariza came off the bench as a sixth man for the Wizards last season, he corrected anyone who called him a reserve. In his mind he still was a starter, and if he returns to that bench role he won't stop saying it.

"My feelings don't change as far as that's concerned, but I feel like that's a good thing," Ariza said. "I feel like every player in the NBA should feel like that. That means you just have that much confidence in yourself and your abilities.  For that to be a debate or anything, I feel that's good for a team if you have that many good players on your team. It means that your team is going to be strong in those positions."

Ariza is the Wizards' best one-on-one defender. Webster is their best three-point shooter. It all depends on how coach Randy Wittman chooses to balance the floor. Late last season, when Bradley Beal went down with an ankle injury, Ariza started briefly again but gave way to Garrett Temple because the Wizards needed another ball-handler to relieve pressure on Wall. 

"I'm looking at everything right now. I want it to be a competition. I think they know what I expect out of each of them," Wittman said. "Different players in what they can bring to the team. Whichever way we go, it's going to be a lot like last year. I've told them that. They know how I feel about both of them."