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Advanced Stats Analysis: Trevor Ariza's Value with the Rockets

Marc Roberts

Marc Roberts

Marc F Roberts writes about fantasy basketball for RotoWire. He has won no fantasy awards, but his mom thinks his writing is "fantastic". Hubie Brown is a national treasure.

In a strange turn of events, Trevor Ariza will be taking over for Chandler Parsons as the Houston Rockets' small forward next season. Many expected Ariza to be back with the Wizards after his career year helped propel the Wizards into the second round of the playoffs. However, Ariza instead opted to sign a four-year deal with the Rockets this offseason, joining the team for the second time in his career.

From a fantasy perspective, Ariza finished far better than expected last season. In the preseason, he was ranked 164th by ESPN/Yahoo but finished the year as the 36th most valuable fantasy player on a per-game basis:

2013-2014 Stats

MIN

FGA

FG%

FTA

FT%

3PM

REB

AST

STL

BLK

PTS

Auction Value

Fantasy Rank

Trevor Ariza

35.4

11.1

46%

2.5

77%

2.3

6.2

2.5

1.6

0.3

14.4

$23

36


Ariza's fantasy value comes mainly from his elite production in two categories: steals (1.6 spg), and three-pointers made (2.3 3PM).

Will re-joining the Rockets impact his fantasy value? Let's look at how the move will affect his playing time and pace of play to find out.

Pace Impact

The Wizards ranked 18th in pace of play last season, averaging 93.2 possession per game. This rate was just below the league average of 93.9. The Rockets played at a much faster pace than the Wizards last season, averaging 96.3 possessions per game, the fifth fastest in the league.

For a player like Ariza, who averaged 35.4 minutes per game last season, the difference between a pace of 93.2 and 96.3 is worth about 2.3 possessions per game. That change would have been enough to improve Ariza's fantasy rank from 36th to 30th last year.

Playing Time Impact

The RotoWire depth chart for the Rockets has Ariza slotted in as the starting small forward. Ariza has been both a starter and a reserve in his career. In the seasons that he's been a starter, he's averaged 34.9 minutes per game. As a reserve, he's averaged 20.6 minutes per game. Parsons, the Rockets' starting small forward last season, averaged 37.6 minutes per game for the team. If Ariza is indeed the Rockets' starting small forward next season, it seems reasonable that his average playing time will be somewhere in the 34-38 minute per game range. As a result, I've projected him at 36 minutes per game next season. That change (from his actual average of 35.4 mpg) would have been enough to improve Ariza's fantasy rank from 30th to 27th last season.

Projection For Next Season

If we combine Ariza's previous seasons on a per-100-possessions basis to develop his projected stats for next season and then adjust that projection for the Rockets' pace of play and an average playing time of 36 minutes per game (a method I explain in detail here), we get the following projection for Ariza next season:

2014-15 Projection

MIN

FGA

FG%

FTA

FT%

3PM

REB

AST

STL

BLK

PTS

Auction Value

Fantasy Rank

Trevor Ariza

36.0

11.6

43%

3.0

75%

1.6

6.5

2.9

1.9

0.5

13.8

$20

39


This projection would have ranked 39th last season, a slight decrease from last season's rank of 36, despite an improvement to pace and playing time. This decline is due mostly to my projection's expected regression in the three-pointers made category (1.6 3PM vs. 2.3 3PM last season). 1.6 3PM is more in line with his career averages, and while the case can be made that Ariza should make more threes in the Rockets' three-pointer happy offense, it seems unwise to expect Ariza to completely maintain his career-best shooting from last season. Still, I think he will have a lot of fantasy value next season, and 'd recommend targeting him in the fifth round of 10-team rotisserie league drafts next season.

*Stats used in the articles are from basketball-reference.com.

Do you have an opinion about Trevor Ariza that you'd like to share? Would you like to know how he would rank at a different level of playing time? Please leave a comment below, or contact me on twitter @MarcFRoberts.

To see the fantasy impact of other players who have changed teams this offseason you can click here to see my archive (for example: LeBron James to the Cavs). I won't be posting an article about players who rank outside of my top 130 in most cases, but I will be tweeting about those players, so please follow me on twitter if you'd like updates on deeper-league players. For example, here is my tweet about Vince Carter: