Transcendent players raise the play of their surrounding teammates. Mo Williams has been a solid pro, but there is a reason that he was an All-Star in 2009 when LeBron James was with him on the Cavs. After all, he only started one game all season just two years later when he was traded to the Clippers after LeBron took his talents to South Beach.
Having one of those guys is pretty rare and a great thing to build your franchise around. But it also brings an inherent problem – it warps the value of the surrounding guys. Williams posted an impressive 17.2 PER that year with LeBron, but hasn’t been above a 15 since leaving his amazing teammate.
John Wall is still growing as a player, but is already having a similar effect on his teammates. This year, the Wizards posted a 108.0 offensive rating (points per 100 possessions) in his 2,978 minutes on the court, but it dipped way down to 102.7 in his 1,031 minutes off of it. That's roughly the difference between the Clippers' offense and the Pelicans' offense, to put it in perspective. As you would expect, his on-court production has a big effect on the production of his surrounding cast.
Wall and Ariza Together
This year, Trevor Ariza averaged 35.4 minutes per game and posted what was statistically his best year, scoring 14.4 points per game and shooting 40.7% from the three-point line.
Here is the number of minutes per game Ariza played without John Wall on the floor with him: 3.1.
Yes, Ariza played only 8% of his minutes this year without his All-Star point guard. Do you think that could have had something to do with his career year?
Wall created 21.3 points directly from his assists this year, per NBA.com, and that doesn’t even count secondary passes, or “hockey assists.” It also doesn’t count the times when he put a player in a great position and they got fouled and made the free throws. Wall was also the best player this year in setting up the corner three, which has been shown to be the most efficient shot, outside of a dunk. Wall is a great passer and his teammates reaped the rewards this year in terms of their own stats and production.
How Does it Affect Ariza, the Free Agent?
If Marcin Gortat's five-year, $60 million contract is any indication, these two guys owe John Wall a significant amount of money.
There's an increase need for solid “3 and D” guys, or players who excel at shooting three pointers and defending on the perimeter. Think about who the best players in the world are – LeBron James, Kevin Durant, Carmelo Anthony, Paul George, heck, even Kawhi Leonard. Having a guy who can space the floor, knock down shots, and defend those guys is supremely valuable.
That is exactly why Lance Stephenson is demanding such a large contract on the open market, despite being well known as a lunatic. Quality perimeter talent is hard to come by and teams are forced to take risks and overpay for it.
The market projections for Ariza are right around the $6 million per year mark, but he will definitely get more than that. After coming off a career year, the dearth of guys at his position, and his $7.3 million salary last year, Ariza and his agent will certainly be looking at an upgrade.
And the Wizards will probably be willing to pay that. But when 92% of his production comes with John Wall on the floor, they, and other teams, should also realize who he is as a player. Whatever Ariza makes this summer, he should definitely take Wall out to dinner and thank him for his new contract.