Nov 6, 2014; Houston, TX, USA; Houston Rockets forward Trevor Ariza (1) warms up before a game against the San Antonio Spurs at Toyota Center. Mandatory Credit: Troy Taormina-USA TODAY Sports
Through the Houston Rockets’ initial six games, the team is undefeated – a perfect 6-0.
Small forward Trevor Ariza, who the Rockets signed this past offseason to replace Chandler Parsons, has played a significant role in their success.
Currently, Ariza is averaging 15.8 points, 5.0 rebounds, 3.2 assists, 1.8 steals, 51.7 percent shooting from the field and 55.0 percent shooting from three. He is first in three-point percentage among all players who have shot at least 20 threes, and he is providing a positive impact on both ends of the floor.
Aside from the play of All-Stars James Harden and Dwight Howard, Ariza’s output is the biggest reason why Houston is the only NBA team other than the 1985-86 Denver Nuggets to win their opening six games by 10+ points. Clearly, the veteran is fitting in well.
Ariza’s performance has been fun to watch thus far. But as the season continues to progress, will the 3-man continue to produce at this high level?
The small forward serves as the Rockets’ best offensive option outside of Harden and Howard. With a defensive-minded starting point guard in Patrick Beverley, an inconsistent producer in starting power forward Terrence Jones and varying levels of output from players off the bench, Ariza is this team’s most reliable non-All-Star on offense.
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However, since Harden and Howard demand defensive attention, opponents will focus less on Ariza and more on containing the exceptional pick-and-roll execution from Houston’s top two players. Resultantly, the 11-year veteran will consistently receive open opportunities and continue to capitalize.
This is not to say Ariza won’t experience disappointing nights. As evidenced by his most recent 2-10 shooting performance in the Rockets’ romping of the short-handed San Antonio Spurs Thursday evening, the 3-man is capable of failure.
But Ariza is a talent who’s versatility allows him to fill up the stat sheet in any given game. If he continues to acquire quality looks – which will happen as long as Harden and Howard are healthy – he will put forth quality production.
Expect to see similar play from Ariza as the season moves forward. While his current field goal and three-point percentage will likely begin to dip (55 percent shooting from three is tough for anyone to maintain), his efficient numbers will continue to occur.
And if all else goes well, Houston just may remain at/near the top of the Western Conference.