Kings

Kings player profile: Where does Trevor Ariza fit into crowded rotation?

Kings player profile: Where does Trevor Ariza fit into crowded rotation?

Every year the Sacramento Kings bring in a veteran leader or two with the hopes that they will help stabilize the youth of the team and further build the culture behind the scenes. Garrett Temple, Vince Carter, Zach Randolph and George Hill are just a few names that come to mind and now, Trevor Ariza has joined the list.

At 34-years-old, Ariza showed that he had plenty left in the tank after being traded to the Washington Wizards last season. He put up solid numbers and despite playing in his 15th NBA season, he managed to log 34 minutes per game in 69 total contests with the Wizards and Suns.

Vlade Divac inked Ariza to a two-year, $25 million deal, although the second season has just $1.8 million guaranteed. Ariza can still play, but is this finally the season he sees a reduced role?

It’s a crowded roster in Sacramento and Luke Walton has his work cut out for him. Here is a look at where Ariza fits into the grand scheme of things when training camp opens later this month.

Strengths

The veteran 3-and-D wing has made a nice living on the perimeter for a decade and a half. At 6-foot-8, 215 pounds, he has great size and length at the small forward position and he’s proven to be extremely durable throughout his long NBA career.

As a scorer, Ariza shot 434 three-pointers in 69 games last season, which would have placed him behind only Buddy Hield on the Kings’ roster. Ariza knocked down just 33.4 percent from deep on the season, but he is a career 35.1 percent shooter from behind the arc and playing fewer minutes may help him improve his accuracy numbers.

Outside of shooting the deep ball, Ariza hit 61.1 percent at the rim on 193 attempts. His 3-point attempts and shots at the rim accounted for 627 of his 736 shot attempts. 55.2 percent of Ariza’s shot attempts come without a dribble, mostly as a catch and shoot launcher from long range. He knows exactly who he is as a scorer and he stays in his lane.

While he hasn’t been asked to facilitate the offense in most of his stops, Ariza showed that he was capable of setting up his teammates last year. He averaged 3.7 assists per game on the season, which is 1.5 assists more than his career average of 2.2.

Ariza averages 1.5 steals per game for his career and posted 1.2 steals per game last season. He’s a long defender that has historically caused plenty of issues on the perimeter.

Weaknesses

There comes a point in every player’s career when the game catches up and then passes them. It may not come this season for Ariza, but he’s played over 1100 games between the regular season and postseason and the Kings’ frenetic pace can take the wind out of a 20-year-old, let alone someone who opens the season at 34.

Known as a strong perimeter defender throughout his career, Ariza struggled last season with both the Suns and the Wizards. It’s hard to know whether that was due to the players around him, the system they played in or if father time finally came calling. It might be a combination of all three.

Ariza allowed his opponent to shoot 8.8 percent higher than league average, including 4.3 percent higher on 3-point attempts and 12.8 percent inside the arc. That’s just not going to fly.

His 2017-18 numbers with the Houston Rockets were very good, which is promising. It should also be noted that the Wizards and Suns ranked 28th and 29th in the league in defensive rating last season and were in the bottom three in the league in points allowed per game.

Ariza was a very solid rebounder as a young player, but his numbers have dipped as he’s moved further away from the rim. He also doesn’t draw fouls at a high rate, which is a trend amongst many of the Kings players.

Path to Improvement

It’s pretty simple. Ariza needs to do what he’s done throughout his career - play solid defense and stick the three-point shot.

He isn’t going to play 34 minutes per game in Sacramento, so he should be fresh and ready when he comes in. The Kings might not ask him to be the facilitator he was last season, but having another willing passer on the floor is always a good thing.

Luke Walton needs Ariza to be a vocal leader on the defensive side of the ball. If he can get back to the player he was during the 2017-18 season, he should help shore up a lot of the issues the Kings’ second unit had last season.

Projection

Ariza had to know when he signed his deal with Sacramento that he wasn’t going to play 34 minutes per game as he has throughout his long NBA career. That doesn’t mean he can’t be an extremely effective NBA player and maybe even stretch out his career a few more years.

Walton has a ton of bodies to work with at the three. Harrison Barnes will play the majority of the minutes, but Bogdan Bogdanovic will need to steal time at the wing as well. Barnes will likely play 20 minutes at the small forward spot and another 10-12 at the four. Bogdanovic will eat around 16 minutes at the two and need another 10-12 at the three.

[RELATED: Kings player profile: How Harrison Barnes will fit into his new role]

That doesn’t leave a lot of time for Ariza. It’s possible that Walton gets creative with his rotations and plays a lot of small ball, but it would be surprising to see Ariza on the court for more than 16-18 minutes per game.

A conservative look has him averaging around seven points, three rebounds and two assists in 16 minutes per game. Sacramento is spending a lot on a player that might have a limited role with the team, but his value to the team goes beyond the numbers as a veteran leader.

How Tracy McGrady credits Kings' Doug Christie for success as rookie

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How Tracy McGrady credits Kings' Doug Christie for success as rookie

Tracy McGrady leaves behind an illustrious 14-season career with accolades including seven NBA All-Star and seven All-NBA selections, a two-time scoring champion as well as a Hall of Fame induction.

McGrady turned 41 on Sunday which was the perfect time to take a trip down memory lane to when he was just a rookie. He talked about how Kings legend Doug Christie played an instrumental role during the infancy of his run.

During a recent interview on “All the Smoke,” McGrady said a big part of his hot start as a rookie with the Toronto Raptors was all thanks in part of the matchups he had with former teammate Christie.

“I love Doug,” McGrady said. “I played Doug on one-on-one every day -- we were just going at each other -- and that’s how I was working on my one-on-one game and building my confidence up because I know he was a great defender, he was a hell of a defender.”

He was.

Christie earned three All-Defensive Second Team honors and was part of the First Team in 2003. McGrady was also one of the most difficult guys to cover -- he owes part of that to Christie. 

He's part of many who recently shouted him out.

[RELATED: Mike Bibby describes tenure with Kings as best time of his life]

For McGrady, he knew going up against one of the best in the game, he would be able to handle anything.

Appears that worked out beautifully. 

[PURPLE TALK PODCAST: Listen to the latest episode]

Why Mike Bibby describes playing with Kings as best time of his life

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Why Mike Bibby describes playing with Kings as best time of his life

The Kings’ Mike Bibby era was iconic. 

His seven-season run with players like Chris Webber never will be forgotten for all the success Sacramento saw on the court.

Bibby sat down with CBS Local’s DJ Sixsmith and talked about his run with Sacramento -- a fit that was comfortable for Bibby right away. Even though trading for him meant bidding farewell to Jason Williams, a guy Kings fans were in love with. 

“The guys treated me like I was there for five, six, seven years," Bibby said. "I got there and Jason Williams was a prized possession in Sacramento and when I got traded for him, I just wanted to fit in, I didn’t know if the fans would like me or if the team would like me.

"In my first year we had the best record in the West. I had the best time of my life and my career playing in Sacramento with those guys. I think Sacramento is the best team I played on.”

Bibby detailed the trade, along with the special relationship he and Webber had throughout that stretch and how selfless the Kings were. It didn’t matter who scored, they were a strong team and wanted to win.

“That’s the way basketball is supposed to be played,” Bibby said. “That was the best time of my life -- being in Sacramento.”

[RELATED: Karl Malone admits Webber had more talent than him]

That was a time where the Kings gave the two-time defending NBA champion Los Angeles Lakers a run for their money. The Kings skated through the first two rounds of the playoffs, defeating the Utah Jazz and the Dallas Mavericks. That was all in Bibby’s first season. 

Across those seven seasons with the Kings, Bibby averaged 17.6 points and  3.2 rebounds per game. 

[PURPLE TALK PODCAST: Listen to the latest episode]