Fantasy Basketball: Trevor Ariza Continues to Be an Elite Asset

Ariza doesn't have a big name, but he has been one of the most consistent fantasy assets in recent years. What is he doing right?

When you think of the Houston Rockets in the context of fantasy basketball, you think James Harden. It's just the way it works.

Harden, per BasketballMonster, has been a top-20 asset from a per-game perspective in 9-category leagues for the past five seasons and a top-eight player in his past four years. He ranks fifth this year, by our measures, and fourth when adjusting for positional scarcity.

And for all the hubbub about the Rockets' fantasy-friendly offense, they have just one other top-40 fantasy asset by our position-adjusted rankings.

That'd be Trevor Ariza, who comes in at 20th.

Ariza's Fantasy Presence

To the savvy fantasy owner, that shouldn't surprise anyone. Ariza, per BasketballMonster, has finished inside the top 40 for three straight years in 9-category leagues based on per-game averages.

He ranked 26th in 2013-14 with the Washington Wizards and then 35th and 38th in his first two years, respectively, after returning to Houston.

With 77, 82, and 81 games played in his past three years, Ariza has actually posted total finishes of 22nd, 22nd, and 26th in his past three years.

Even with Ariza deriving much of his value from limited turnovers (0.9 per game this season and 1.4 in his past three seasons combined), he does enough to hold per-game finishes of 35th, 39th, and 53rd in 8-category leagues and total finishes of 28th, 23rd, and 32nd.

Despite the consistent finishes and plenty of reasons to believe his offense would be fantasy-oriented, Ariza owned an average draft position of just 65th this season, per FantasyPros' aggregate data.

Needed Production

Ariza's most obvious area of production is in the steals column.

He's averaging 2.2 per game this year after 2.0 last year and 1.9 the year before. That ties him for second with Chris Paul, as they trail only John Wall's 2.3 thefts per game.

On the year, he has 78 steals, giving him more value from steals than any other player in fantasy hoops. He's pretty much replacement level in rebounds, assists, points, blocks, field goal percentage, and free-throw percentage, but he also excels from beyond the arc.

Ariza averages 2.7 three-point makes per game on 7.2 attempts, good for a 37.6% clip from deep. In all, Ariza has tallied 97 threes on the year, the ninth-most in the league (despite ranking fourth on his own team).

That gives him elite value in two of nine categories, and his slim turnovers are one of the best marks in the league, especially considering his minutes. That combined with marks that won't kill you anywhere else keeps making Ariza an elite fantasy asset despite the lack of a big name.

Remaining Projections

Our algorithm sees Ariza as just a top-30 forward-eligible option the rest of the way, meaning his value is likely higher now than it will be the rest of the season, but that includes a significant drop in steals and three-point makes more in line with his career averages rather than his recent play.

If you are looking to sell high on Ariza, you can probably get a decent option in return, but Ariza continues to be a way to take advantage of the 9-category system -- and he's pretty good in 8-category setups, too. His name value simply doesn't match what he brings to the table year in and year out.