In a move that clearly favors the Wizards from a personnel standpoint, the Wizards traded PED stained Rashard Lewis and the 46th pick for Trevor Ariza and Emeka Okafor. Most basketball fans will remember that the Ariza was on the ’09 Lakers title team and Okafor was on the ’04 Uconn National title team. Aside from some winning pedigree, this trade adds some much needed talent to this Wizards team.
Okafor is obviously the better player and a big addition to this team (no pun intended). Okafor has consistently been an above average defender and rebounder. His PER (player efficiency rating) was only a 15.1 (the average NBA player is 15.0) last season but that was in a season where he only played 27 of the 66 games on the year. His rebounding rate was also a career low at 16.2% but again, it was an injury plagued season. If Okafor can regain his old form from two years ago he will be one of the better centers in the Eastern Conference. He will be able to defend Al Horford, Roy Hibbert, Dwight Howard (as well as one can), Brook Lopez, and any other offensive threat the East can put at the center position. He also allows Nene to slide to the power forward. This takes some of the rebounding and defensive responsibilities away from Nene (two things he never really excelled at) and allows him to focus on being a dominant scoring presence down low.
Ariza is a very athletic wing player who has been a pretty good defender over his career. He is most famous for stealing a couple of in bounds passes in the waning moments of two games during the Western Conference Finals against the Nuggets. Ariza since then has regressed a little as an offensive player, something surprising since he played a year with Chris Paul in New Orleans. He can still add some much needed defense and he is a decent rebounder for a wing player. What is interesting about the Ariza acquisition is that the Wizards now have three young forwards, which seems to slim down the chances they draft Kidd-Gilchrist with the third pick in the draft (assuming he is even there).
This trade greatly improves the Wizards roster and gives them a punchers chance to be around the 8th seed more than ten games into the season next year. If they draft a guard like Bradley Beal and move on with a lineup of Wall, Beal/Crawford, Ariza, Nene, and Okafor are they really that much worse than teams like the Cavs, the Bucks, and other 8th seed contenders? I don’t think so. Be happy, Wizards fans your team has actually taken a step in the right direction. After the draft we should have a better idea of what to expect from a team trying to make the playoffs since we were all graced with Agent Zero’s brilliance.
About the Author
Written by Frank Diglio
I'm a 21 year old diehard sports fan from New York. I just graduated from Marist College with a sports communications degree. I love the NBA, MLB, NFL, NCAAB, and NCAAF. Outside of sports I am really into comedy and Batman.