Over the next seven days, we will be posting community projections for each player on the Washington Wizards' roster. We will note some basic information, and from there, we'll ask you guys to project each player's statistics and respond with further expectations of your own. We begin with Trevor Ariza.
Trevor Ariza was acquired to fill the gap at small forward, but to do it well, he will need to bounce back from a string of somewhat disappointing years with the Houston Rockets and New Orleans Hornets. It's been three seasons since he was a perfect role player for the NBA-champion Los Angeles Lakers, so it's a lot to expect him to bounce back to that level. But if he can, it would be a huge help to a Wizards team that was really weak at Ariza's position last year.
To get back to where he was in 2009, Ariza needs to improve his weaknesses rather than resting on his strengths. It is true that, over the past three years, Ariza has been a plus defender and a very effective transition player. But those strengths will be cancelled out if he continues to be so poor offensively. Ariza's true shooting percentage has been near the bottom of the league for wing players over the past few years, and his three-point shot has been really inconsistent. If he does not improve offensively, it wouldn't surprise me to see Chris Singleton, Martell Webster and Cartier Martin cut into his minutes.
POSITIVES TO BUILD ON: Ariza did significantly improve his shot selection last year, beating out many of the bad habits he developed with the Rockets. His true shooting percentage did rise a bit, mostly because he stopped trying to be an isolation player and instead operated more without the ball in his hands.
AREAS TO IMPROVE: His spot-up game needs significant improvement. More on that here.
PROJECTED SPOT IN ROTATION: Ariza is the likely incumbent at small forward, but he very well could lose minutes to SIngleton, Webster or Martin, all of whom will likely be better shooters. Ariza will probably log the most minutes against teams with strong wing players, but I wouldn't be surprised to see him sit many fourth quarters when the Wizards need offense.
OUTLOOK: Ariza must be a passable offensive player for the Wizards to be successful this season. He has incentive to be better on that end, because he can opt out of the final year of his contract and cash in with a new long-term deal. If he plays well enough to do that, the Wizards should consider his season a success.
What are your projected statistics for Ariza this season? What are your general expectations for him?