2017 – Trevor Ariza
The second time was the charm for Trevor Ariza with the Houston Rockets. After a failed attempt to be the star of the team during his first stint, Ariza was the right fit as the defensive specialist and glue that held the team together in 2017.
In what would be his final year in Houston, Ariza helped the Rockets have their best defensive team in over a decade.
Ariza, unfortunately, was the poster child for the “27 missed 3-pointers in a row” game against the Warriors, as he was 0-for-12 in that game. Still, without Ariza, there is no way the Rockets win a franchise-best 65 games during the regular season.
1995 – Mario Elie
There is no better example of a team player than Mario Elie. Elie was never asked to be the top scorer or playmaker but was asked to do all the things that don’t show up in the box scores. Elie would tip passes, take charges and force turnovers every time he was on the court.
Mario was also responsible for one of the most clutch shots in NBA history, nailing a corner three with less than 10 seconds remaining of Game 7 against the Phoenix Suns.
That shot alone made him a Rockets legend, but his stellar defense and a great basketball IQ add even more to his place in team history.
This was a close decision, but in the end, Elie made one of the biggest shots in history and Ariza, unfortunately, missed every 3-pointer he took in his Game 7. Statistically, every other category was basically even when it comes to these two. The slight advantage goes to Elie.
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