Ariza’s Arrival Fills Miami’s Biggest Void


The Miami Heat finally made a trade!

South Beach shipped Meyers Leonard and a 2027 2nd-round pick to the Oklahoma City Thunder in exchange for veteran forward Trevor Ariza.

This is an uncontested fast-break of a move. What does Ariza bring to Miami?

Who is Trevor Ariza?

Ariza is a 35-year-old Miami native. He played his college ball at UCLA, and the New York Knicks drafted him in the second round of the 2004 NBA Draft. He won the 2009 NBA Finals as a member of the Los Angeles Lakers and has been dealt an astounding 11 times.

The 16-year vet opted out of Portland’s NBA Bubble and never reported to Oklahoma City this season, making his last game prior to joining the Heat March 10, 2020.

This issue doesn’t bother the Heat, however, as this trade isn’t the first time they obtained an older player that hasn’t played in a long time. The team acquired Andre Iguodala on February 9, 2020, when his last played game was on June 13, 2019.

In the 2019-2020 season, Ariza played 32 games for Sacramento before his trade to Portland. His numbers with the Kings were relatively low with his bench role. He averaged 6.0 points, 4.6 rebounds, 1.6 assists and 1.1 steals on 38.8/35.2/77.8 splits. With the Kings, he played just 24.7 minutes per game. That coupled with 6.0 points per contest were his lowest since the 2007-08 season.

After arriving in Portland, Ariza improved in every statistical category while starting all 21 games pre-COVID. He averaged 11.0 points, 4.8 rebounds, 2.0 assists and 1.6 steals on 49.1/40/87.2 splits in 33.4 minutes per game.

Portland felt his absence in Orlando. Despite going 6-2 in the Bubble, the Blazers’ defense surrendered 5.8 more points per game and experienced drops in steals, three-point, and free-throw percentage.

What Ariza Brings to South Beach

In a word, flexibility. Ariza has an all-around game and can play both forward positions. He improves Miami’s outside shooting and defending problem while bringing more experience to a team with a myriad of youth.

Beyond the Arc

Quite possibly the best part about Ariza’s game combined with his fit with the Heat is his three-ball. A career 35.2% three-point shooter, his shot took a rare step forward in 2019. With Bam Adebayo and Jimmy Butler not proficient with outside shooting, the other three players on the court must spread the floor. Additionally, Miami shoots the 10th-most three-pointers per game (36.6). If Ariza can maintain the efficiency from three he had in 2019, opposing defenses will have another prolific shooter to worry about.



As a defender, Ariza gives the Heat a versatile stretch four. He helps Miami play the way they want to play. The team loves to switch on defense, and with Kelly Olynyk playing the four, it’s been challenging to switch. The personnel for the switch defense Coach Spo loves is much better now with Ariza’s acquisition.

Physically, Ariza is 6’8 and can defend both forwards and smaller centers. Furthermore, he has a 7’2 wingspan that allows him to jump the lane for multiple steals per game. Ariza is currently 54th all-time in steal percentage (2.54%) and sixth among active players. Miami has numerous skilled perimeter defenders proficient at taking the ball away in Jimmy, Iggy, Avery Bradley, and now Ariza.

Ariza matches up fabulously with most of the most talented wings in the East like Jayson Tatum, Tobias Harris and Khris Middleton. Additionally, Ariza has defended Kevin Durant very well in the playoffs should Miami meet Brooklyn at some point.


An Experienced Veteran

Ariza brings championship DNA and playoff experience to the Heat. In his 16-year career, Trevor made the playoffs nine times and played in 102 playoff games, starting 90. He averages 10.3 points, 5.0 rebounds, 1.9 assists and 1.4 steals per game on 42.6/36.7/72.2 splits in the postseason and is one of 23 current players to have 100 playoff games under his belt– as well as Iggy (166) and Udonis Haslem (147), who have the second and third most behind King James.

Ariza joins Iggy, UD, and Goran Dragic as Miami’s four veterans to have played in at least 800 games.

The Jae Crowder Comparison

Since Crowder departed in free agency after the Finals run, the Heat have been desperate to replace him. The team tried with Moe Harkless, a major letdown (played in 11 of 41 games). The team knew they needed someone that could fill that void. With Ariza, the Heat finally found their Crowder replacement and somewhat of a clone.

When the Heat acquired Crowder, he saw a significant increase in three-point percentage. In Memphis, he shot 29.3% on 5.9 shots per game. With Miami, he shot 44.5% on 6.4 attempts per game. While taking more shots, his percentage increased too, an uncommon result.

Miami always seems to get the most out of their role players.

In the playoffs, Crowder’s importance to the team and their defensive identity became apparent. The Heat asked Crowder to pick up significant defensive assignments throughout the biggest games of the year. According to nba.com/stats, his four most defended players were Anthony Davis (20:25), Jaylen Brown (20:18), Giannis Antetokounmpo (18:03) and Jayson Tatum (17:21).

The Heat will ask Ariza to do most of the same. He will be the one that picks up wing assignments for players that are too big for Jimmy or too small for Bam. He will be taking many shots from behind the arc. Seeing Ariza is a better defender and shooter than Crowder, he should perform even better.

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