Hornets Season Review: Trevor Ariza

With new General Manager Dell Demps at the helm the Hornets needed to fill a void, which was small-forward. In turn the Horents traded Darren Collison and James Posey for Trevor Ariza. At the time the trade was scrutinized from all angles, but most saw it as a “meh” type of move.

A full season on and we can’t see the positives from  the negatives with Ariza. He’s had a very shakey season, one that was capped off by a nice playoff series.

Overall though most still see Trevor as an expendable commodity on the roster. Trade avenues will always return a player of less talent (unless they’re trying to gut their roster) and getting rid of Ariza seems unlikely. Having said that we need to appreciate that when he did get it right, it was great to watch. When things went wrong, they made for another eye-gouging experience.

The Trade

I think most Hornets fans rue the trade that brought in Ariza and let Collison go. While our sentiments towards Darren are far stronger than to Ariza, it actually was a trade that proved to be better than expected.

First, the Hornets got rid of James Posey, both a lazy player and a burden on the salary cap. This allowed the Hornets to get under the luxury tax and further add to their roster.

Second, if we take a look at Collisons season it and compare it with Ariza’s it isn’t like we are missing out on a whole lot. Remember, we brought Ariza in here to be a defender and not much more. We must take his statistics with a grain of salt, the Hornets must, and I stress this, they must get a shooting, offensive off-guard.

Collison is around about an average NBA player (15.6 PER), an average starting point-guard it appears. Ariza meanwhile is a below average player due to his terrible offensive ability (11.3 PER). Keep in mind that defensive players are often significantly underrated because it doesn’t usually account for their skills and abilities as much as an offensive player.

Far to often Trevor was asked to do things that are not his strong suite like creating his own shot from an isolation, creating for others, or generally just shooting ten or more times in a game. We can see exactly why Demps picked up Ariza, for his defense. His defensive win shares (DWS) was second on the team (behind Chris Paul).

Overall I think the Hornets fitted a need and got rid of a player that would never of contributed much with Paul in the starting line-up. Even if Collison had stayed and we had decided to get rid of Paul, it would have been disastrous in the short and long-term because Collison, in my opinion, doesn’t have the All-Star potential that so many predict.

Ultimately this signals that the Hornets desperately need a two-guard who can create his own offense so that Ariza can get that 17.7 Usage Rate down to somewhere like 15, where Ariza had his best season producing an offensive rating of 112 for the Lakers in 2008.

The Season

The word “underwhelm” comes to mind when trying to describe Trevor’s season. I think a lot of us expected a much better basketball player offensively and not the brick-fest that came with it. I know I’m trying to make excuses as to why an offensive two-guard is needed so desperately, but this does hinge on Trevor quite a bit.

Spot up shooting is something that he really needs to focus on. Playing with Chris Paul, or any creative player, means that you must have a strong capability to hit the three ball. Ariza didn’t seem to fit that role in the way that he needs to be. Sometimes he’d miss so badly that you’d wonder why he’d take those shots. I’d be screaming “NO!” every time he took a three from the top of the arc. From the corners, I was fine with that. But anywhere else and I was in agony.

If we glance into his season we come back to that word “underwhelm” not because he was a horrifically bad player, but because he showed signs of being a capable NBA player on the offensive end. Take a look at these graphs and you’ll see what I mean by inconsistent.

For the duration of the season Trevor seemed to make head-way then take steps back. He’d shoot 38 percent from three then shoot 31 percent. He’d score 13.4 points per game in a month then eventually work his way back to 9 points a game. It was strange and there was no definitive answer. The fluctuations and lack of consistency are something that I despise about particular NBA players. One moment they’re hot, the next they’re cold.

Yet somehow this is lost amongst Trevor, I seem to put these offensive consistencies at the side and praise his defense because that really is a consistent God-send. His offensive inconsistencies are outweighed by his defensive consistencies. Which makes it all the more important to surround him with offensively talented players.

The Future

I don’t know what room for optimism there is with Trevor. I hope that he can develop his offensive game to a point where he’s merely a slasher off the ball and spot-up corner three point shooter, but who really knows what will happen? My best guess is that the Hornets get a two-guard who can shoot the lights out, and another small-forward three point specialist.

The thing about Ariza is that he is a hard worker. He likes to think of himself as a shooter, but he needs to demonstrate that he can consistently light it up. I am hoping that he gets to a point where he shoots 45% from the field and 35% from three, but that could be asking to much.

Season Grade: (Rated in Awesome to the Max’s)

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Tags: Darren Collison Dell Demps James Posey New Orleans Hornets Trevor Ariza

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