Forecasting a player's production after only two good regular season games would be like predicting smooth sailing for the Titanic because it made it safely out of harbor. It should go without saying that players are going to have good games and bad games.
With that said, lets all take a second to quietly rejoice over the effort we've seen from Trevor Ariza in the Rockets first two regular season wins, over the Lakers and the Jazz.
In two games Ariza is shooting 60% from 3-point range, averaging 18 points per game and is averaging 4 rebounds and 2 steals a contest. He shot circles around Kobe and was a huge part of the reason that Utah's Gordon Hayward was held to only 8 points against Houston. (All data comes from NBA.com/stats and Basketball-reference.com)
Of the nine three-pointers he has made on this season's 15 attempts, 8 were assisted by a teammate. Assisted shots usually mean open shots and last season demonstrated how devastating Ariza is in catch-and-shoot opportunities when he's being set up by an elite-driving guard. The formula is right for him to succeed.
Obviously his absurd 3-point numbers are going to dip after a few more games as maintaining a 60% shooting rate from outside is essentially impossible. Good shooters hover around the 40% mark so if Ariza can stay above that imaginary line then the Rockets should be in good shape.
The real question is, does (or more accurately, "could") Ariza represent a significant upgrade over former Houston swingman Chandler Parsons. The easiest way to answer that is to compare Houston's 5-man lineup numbers with Ariza, against the same lineup from last year, but with Parsons.
McHale's most heavily used lineup so far has been that of Beverley, Harden, Ariza, Jones and Howard at about 24 minutes per 100 possessions and looking at the numbers, it's obvious why. With that lineup on the floor the Rockets are better than their opponent at basically every statistical category except for steals and free-throw percentage (I'm looking at you, Dwight).
If we compare this to last year's most used lineup, which was the same, save for Chandler Parsons in Ariza's spot, it becomes obvious that Trevor has a huge impact– at least against the Lakers and the Jazz.
Our total rebounding percentage is about five points better- jumping from 6.7% with Parsons to 13% with Ariza.
Points per 100 possessions tell the same story. With the Parsons lineup the Rockets outscored their opponent by 6.7 points and so far with the Ariza lineups they've outscored opponents by 16.8 points.
Perhaps most telling is the assist rate. The Parsons lineup had 2.1 less assists per 100 possessions than the other team, however the Ariza lineup is averaging 8.1 more assists than opponents. This is a product of several things. Namely, playing good defense and shutting down passing lanes on one end of the floor and moving the ball effectively and scoring on the other end.
There's no way to predict how much Ariza's numbers are going to regress over the course of the regular season, but if reading WAY too much into the first two games tells us anything, Rockets fans should have a lot to be excited about.