Trevor Ariza has been a role player his entire career, but he’ll be asked to be a major piece of the Phoenix Suns. Is he up to the task?
Throughout his entire career, Trevor Ariza has made a living as a three and D player. There’s no question about his ability to contribute to a team as a role player, but it’s reasonable to think he’ll be asked to do more in Phoenix. After all, his $15 million contract makes him the highest paid player on the team.
Even with stars in the making like Devin Booker and Deandre Ayton on the team, Ariza will immediately become a team leader. He’ll be a veteran and a regular contributor, and he’ll be looked up to by the others. That means he may be asked to do more than he’s used to doing. And the stats suggest he may not be capable.
Ariza hasn’t done anything to prove he can carry a larger role than that of a traditional three and D wing. He’s never averaged 15 points in his career. Even in 2009-10 when he took 13.9 shots per game, his efficiency went way down, and he averaged just 14.9 points. He’s also shot above 40 percent from three just once in his career, back in 2013-14.
He’s also showing decline in many aspects of his game. Last season, at 32, he averaged below his career averages in points, offensive and defensive rebounds, assists, steals, and blocks per 100 possessions. He also had one of the lowest usage percentages of his career. While it’s easily to blame the decline in stats on less usage, even that concession would call into question Ariza’s ability to take on a larger role.
On a more positive note, Ariza has posted a positive Offensive and Defensive Box Plus Minus for each of the last five seasons. At worst, he’s a capable two-way contributor. Unfortunately, the Phoenix Suns may ask him to be more than that, and the stats don’t give any reason to believe he can be.