Small Forward: Trevor Ariza
Trevor Ariza played for the Houston Rockets for five seasons, once in the 2009-10 season and again between the 2014-15 and the 2017-18 seasons. Ariza was the perfect 3-and-D player to compliment Harden and later Paul. He was definitely one of the biggest reasons the Rockets were able to win 65 games in the 2017-18 season and come within just one game of the NBA Finals that year.
Ariza averaged 12.7 points and 5.2 rebounds as a Rocket. Ariza also finished top 25 in total 3s made in every season between 2014-15 and 2017-18, making him a perfect fit in an offense that emphasizes floor spacing.
At 6’8″ and 215 pounds, Ariza has the size to deal with bigger forwards like LeBron James and Kevin Durant with the agility to stay in front of guards like Damian Lillard. His versatility allowed him to thrive under defensive coordinator Jeff Bzdelik, who employed a switch heavy defense.
Ariza’s departure after the 2017-18 season definitely hurt Houston last year. They were missing a legitimate starting small forward and instead chose to start three guards, which left them undersized down low. As a result, Houston often struggled on the boards and P.J. Tucker had to shoulder a lot more of the defensive load.
We all remember Ariza’s infamous 0-for-12 shooting performance in Game 7 of the 2018 Western Conference Finals, a game Houston lost after relinquishing a double-digit lead. That was Ariza’s last game in a Rockets uniform, but it isn’t a good representation of his tenure with the Rockets. For the Rockets, Ariza was a big and versatile 3-and-D wing that was almost always healthy. Those types of players are invaluable in today’s league.
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