When the Hornets acquired Trevor Ariza from the Houston Rockets it was said that he’d provide “defensive toughness and ability combined with athleticism and fast break prowess.” Nearly a full season in the books and Ariza hasn’t changed much but as fans we begin questioning his overall effect on the team’s ability to win basketball games.
It was be known to the basketball community that Ariza possessed poor decision making in a half-court offense. He views himself as a 3rd scoring option and takes as many shots as one would. The disappointing thing about it is that the types of shots he gets are downright awful. The coaching staff and rabid fans would convince the average observer that his defensive ability more than makes up for it.
But if Chris Paul and David West post less than stellar nights, who’s to pick up the slack? Jarrett Jack, Carl Landry and Willie Green are all complement offensive players, not one’s who you can put the scoring load on to. I know some will disagree, but I’m only comfortable with Landry getting the ball and creating for himself.
Ariza doesn’t have that ability, and he plays as if he does.
The role of Trevor has expanded over the years, this season he is posting the second highest minutes per-game of his career. His efficiency meanwhile is just below his average. He’s shooting 29 per cent from three yet takes 4 a game! His field goal percentage has plummeted to its career worst, 37 per cent. It appears what we as fans see is reflecting in the statistics. We feel as if Ariza is taking more jump-shots, he is.
When he was with the Lakers Ariza started but played limited minutes at key parts of the game. His average minute’s per-game then was 24.4. With the Hornets Trevor is posting his second worst PER of 10.9, with the Lakers it was 15.5.
The Hornets rank second to last in pace in the NBA, this is a half court team. Ariza cannot seem to operate in such a system. Defensively he fits like a glove, offensively he fits like a jagged piece of rock trying to fit into a keyhole. His long jump shots, attempts to set up a pick and roll, crossover moves, fadeaway’s are all terrible. What he does best is catch the ball on the move and cut to the basket. New Orleans is not that type of team.
I’ve advocated for a while now that the Hornets need more shooters. When Peja Stojakovic and Morris Peterson were on the team (and in their primes circa 2007) the Hornets offense operated with high levels of efficiency.
If Trevor Ariza is to improve his value to the team he has to get out of his shooting funk. When do we know if he’s out of it? Well his career average from three point range is 32%. Those aren’t pretty numbers all things considered. Many, like me, would hope him to reach that Lakers playoff form where he shot 48% from beyond the arc. The reality however is that it will not happen for the Hornets.
The type of shots that he’s getting aren’t the ones that make him valuable to a team. It’s clear that he’ll never develop a shooting touch. In his first real chance in a half-court (primarily jump-shooting team) Ariza has flunked. It’s not the right fit for him offensively. There’s a reason the Hornets are one of the worst offensive teams in the league (in terms of raw production, not necessarily efficiency) but is giving up a starting spot to an inefficient player for defensive skills worth it?
I’m not sure, we might find out in the playoffs. All I know is I’m leaning towards say no it’s not. As much as a love Trevor’s ability to defend his offense is killing us.
This isn’t a reflection on Chris Paul, this is solely on Ariza. Those Laker fans that say that they would do a better job are completely ignorant to the fact that Trevor has decided to act as more of a scorer, he wants to create for himself, he’s said so. He doesn’t understand that working off the ball, going for dunks and offensive rebounds and the manner is more suited to his game.
The guy is bred for the fast break, ally oops, back-door cuts, loose ball tips/offensive rebounds and all of that. We need to have his role in the offense be that rather than him trying to make his own offensive moves up, which is like watching me on the dance-floor, not a good look.
If you need further testament to Ariza’s inefficiencies here they are:
- Trevor takes 10.1 shots per game 3rd most on the team, yet he posts the second worst eFG% at 44
- Ariza is posting his worst Offensive Rebound % of 2.9, yet he’s grabbing 16 percent of his defense one’s second highest in his career (sample size greater than 25)
- Despite being known as a great defender Ariza is only getting 1.6 steals a game, worst in his career (could be affecting the PER).
I think when we look at things we have to tread very carefully when judging his value. While we may like what he brings in terms of defense and leadership intangibles, his scoring and efficiency are killers. I don’t mean they’re bad, I mean they are so bad you have to find a truly decent scorer to supplement him. Thankfully Chris Paul takes a lot of that burden but the Hornets must find a third scorer because it could end up costing them a chance at an NBA championship in the distant future.