In the 2012-13 NBA season, Trevor Ariza’s first year with the Washington Wizards, the veteran forward performed decently, but wasn’t near the player that he once was in this league. With that season in the context of his three years prior to, Ariza looked like his days as an effective role player in this league might be over.
However, Ariza has come out and become one of the most vital components of the Wizards on their way to the postseason this year. On Friday night in an overtime victory against the Orlando Magic, Ariza’s contributions were huge. Though he shot just 6-16 from the field, his 21 points, 11 rebounds, five assists and one steal while shooting 4-8 from three helped earn Washington the win.
Ariza has rebounded greatly from sub-mediocrity last season to have an admirable year on a talented Wizards team. In 59 games this season, Ariza has put up 14.9 points, 6.3 rebounds, 2.6 assists and 1.8 steals in 35.8 minutes per game while hitting 46 percent of his shot attempts and a fantastic 42.7 percent of his attempts from long-range.
Looking at the way Ariza has recovered after a poor season last year, it’s hard to not put him in the conversation for the NBA’s Most Improved Player Award this season. Obviously you have to also look at guys like Gerald Green or even Blake Griffin when talking about this award, but there’s no way you can have the conversation without including Ariza. Considering that it legitimately seemed like his days in the league might be dwindling, this season has had redemption written all over it, which is essentially what the award looks to honor.