Washington Wizards: X-factor for round two

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Trevor Ariza has the chance to play a major role in the Wizards’ second round matchup against the Pacers. Will he rise to the challenge?

Washington Wizards small forward Trevor Ariza has been in tip-top form during the playoffs and has the opportunity to cause some havoc for the Indiana Pacers in the second round.

It is absolutely crazy to think about how many teams have slept on Ariza during his time in the NBA.  The New York Knicks selected Ariza as the 43rd pick of the 2004 NBA draft.  From there, Ariza was shipped off to teams such as the Orlando Magic, Houston Rockets, New Orleans Hornets (now the Pelicans) and the Los Angeles Lakers over an eight-year span.  Heck, Ariza helped the Lakers win an NBA championship in 2009 and then he was out of there by 2010.  See… no respect for the guy!

This 28-year-old arrived in the nation’s capital in 2012 and is now in his tenth year in the league. Ariza is so special to the Washington Wizards because he is a seasoned veteran and still has a lot of mileage left in those legs of his.  Ariza has a championship ring.  He has seen good times and bad times.  Ariza is not a star but he is everything a coach would want in a playoff-savvy small forward.

A matchup to look for in the playoff clash between the Wizards and Pacers is Ariza vs. Pacers superstar Paul George.  These two small forwards almost have the same exact body type.  Ariza is listed as a 6-foot-8, 220-pounder.  On the other hand, George is a 6-foot-9 guy, who is also 220 pounds.

Ariza may not be a superstar like George, but just as the Pacers rely on George in multiple facets of the game, the Wizards count on Ariza in the same sense. Ariza is averaging 15.6 points, 8.6 rebounds, 2.2 assists and 1.2 steals in the playoffs. George’s stats for the postseason stand at 23.9 points, 10.7 rebounds, 4.6 assists and 2.4 steals. Although George’s current playoff numbers are more eye-opening than Ariza’s, do not think for a second that Ariza will back down from the opportunity to contain one of the brightest stars in the NBA.

[First round grades for the Washington Wizards]

Ariza has elevated his game during the playoffs. A recent increase in shooting percentages draws evidence to his continuous transformation from an athletic slasher out of UCLA to an all-around NBA small forward.  Ariza shot 45.6% from the field, 40.7% from three-point range and 77.2% from the free-throw line in the regular season. He raised those percentages to 49.1% from the field, 46.4% from three-point range and 81.8% from the free-throw line during the first round of the playoffs. Due to his recent hot shooting-streak, Ariza has the ability to have a huge effect on the outcome of the upcoming series against the Pacers.

Pay close attention to Ariza in the second round of the playoffs. People need to stop the nonsense and realize how worthy this guy is of praise. Ariza was fourth in steals among all small forwards in the NBA during the regular season. Therefore, he will undoubtedly be right in George’s face all series long, doing his best to take his lunch! Just watch. Ariza is going to turn some heads this series because he has the tools to help the Wizards in their quest for Eastern Conference supremacy.

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