Chris Paul explains why losing Trevor Ariza was costly for Rockets

Chris Paul, Trevor Ariza of the Houston Rockets (Photo by Bob Levey/Getty Images)
Chris Paul, Trevor Ariza of the Houston Rockets (Photo by Bob Levey/Getty Images) /

Former Houston Rockets guard Chris Paul opened up about how the loss of Trevor Ariza affected the team.

Trevor Ariza‘s impact on the Houston Rockets was quite noticeable, and for a number of reasons. Ariza’s suffocating, lockdown defense made it hard for opponents to score on the Rockets, and he joined P.J. Tucker to form a lethal defensive duo.

Ariza was more than willing to take on the assignment of defending the opposing team’s best player, and he even made life difficult for future Hall of Famer Kevin Durant. At 6-foot-8, Ariza has the size to pose matchup problems for both forward positions and especially guards, which was also on display during his time with the Rockets.

Ariza’s 7-foot-2 wingspan also played a part in him averaging 1.8 steals during his five-year stint in Houston. But the Rockets opted to not re-sign Ariza in the offseason of 2018, which proved to be a costly decision. Ariza ended up signing a one-year deal worth $15 million with the Phoenix Suns on the opening day of free agency in 2018.

Chris Paul explains how the departure of Trevor Ariza hurt the Rockets

Former Houston Rockets guard Chris Paul was on the Knuckleheads podcast with Darius Miles and Quentin Richardson and explained the impact of the Rockets losing Ariza.

“People don’t realize, that’s the biggest thing that we missed. That was tough when we lost [Ariza] because he sorta was like the glue. He was that glue for our team.”

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CP3 is right, as the loss of Ariza was a gut-wrenching loss. Not only did Ariza provide lockdown defense, but he also proved to be a reliable 3-point shooter, as he finished among the NBA’s best among 3-point field goals for three consecutive seasons, as outlined below.

  • 2014-15: 7th in 3-pointers made
  • 2015-16: 12th in 3-pointers made
  • 2016-17: 14th in 3-pointers made

The Rockets spent the better part of two seasons trying to replace Ariza and even tried getting him back during the 2018-19 season when it was rumored that he was going to be parting ways with the Suns.

The Rockets ultimately landed their replacement for Ariza at the trade deadline this past season, with the acquisition of Robert Covington, who is an upgraded 3-and-D version of Ariza. Covington has thrived as a rim protector, as he averaged 2.5 blocks per game with the Rockets, which would have been second-best in the league if maintained for the entire season.

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But all in all, CP3 is right about the loss of Ariza, as the Rockets had the sixth-best defensive rating during the 2017-18 season, which was his final season in Houston, and the 17th-best defensive rating in 2018-19, which was the subsequent season following his departure.