The Case for Gilbert Arenas

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The Case for Gilbert Arenas

interesting article from hoopsworld

New followers of the NBA over the past three seasons are more than likely to identify Gilbert Arenas by his trendy suit collection and not as the prolific scoring guard that tore through the league from 2005-2007, averaging 27.7 points and taking no prisoners in the process.

Entering the 2011 season Arenas is no longer considered the face of the Wizards organization --- at least by the media. That distinction and the future of the franchise has now been placed on the lightning fast legs and electric playmaking ability of John Wall, the No. 1 overall pick in the 2010 Draft.

The descent from being referenced as one of the game's elite players to being mentioned in daily trade talk and branded as damaged goods has been swift and surprisingly widely accepted.

But the one impressive trait that lies in Arenas' past is his ability to turn once hardcore doubters and skeptics into believers. Arenas, the No. 30 overall pick in the 2001 draft, was passed by franchises that selected players such as Rodney White, Kedrick Brown, Kirk Haston, Joe Forte and Raul Lopez.

No one expected Arenas to emerge as a quality NBA starter let alone be in the conversation with the elite. But a strong work ethic transformed him from an unknown combo guard out of the University of Arizona into a three-time All-Star and All-NBA selection before turning 26 years old. This success led to the Wizards re-signing him to a six-year, $111 million contract at the end of the 2007 season even though he tore his MCL a few months prior.

Arenas played a combined 15 games during the 2008 and 2009 campaigns and often looked slow and sluggish, posting an 18.5 point scoring average. In 2010, he suited up for 32 contests before being suspended by NBA commissioner David Stern for a handgun infraction. Before the off-the-court setback Arenas was averaging a 22.6 points and a career-high 7.2 assists per game.

Although his timing still appeared to be off and his point production didn't match the pre-injury levels, his knee held up remarkably well, playing 36.5 minutes per night.

That's why writing off Arenas at this point is premature and dangerous.

The pressure will be on Wall from day one to prove his worth as a number one pick. Even if you don't think Wall has moved into Arenas' former slot as team leader, that transition is inevitable. But let's be clear: the play of Arenas will be the key factor that ultimately decides if the Wizards will be returning to the playoffs for the first time since 2008.

The first question asked in regards to an Arenas / Wall backcourt is whether the two can exist. The follow up question usually posed is whether Arenas would accept relinquishing the primary ball handling duties to a 19-year-old rookie without a made-for-television drama ensuing.

Although Arenas is sometimes described as aloof he has demonstrated in the past he understands the big picture. Back in 2007, the Wizards originally offered him a max deal worth $127 million over six years before the star signed for $111 million --- leaving $16.5 million on the table.

"What can I do for my family with $127 million that I can't do with $111 million? I'm basically giving back $16 million. You see players take max deals and they financially bind their teams. I don't want to be one of those players and three years down the road your team is strapped and can't do anything about it," explained Arenas to The Washington Times after deciding to take less money.

Arenas' understanding and flowing with the big picture has helped numerous teammates in the past take their careers to the next level. Former teammate and current Dallas Maverick small forward Caron Butler stated the following during the 2007 season: "Everybody who plays alongside him has career years. Look at Larry Hughes. He had a career year playing with Gilbert. Antawn Jamison was selected for the all-star team."

Additionally, often lost in translation is the fact that Arenas was never a natural point guard. He's a volume scorer that rose to prominence due to his aggressive offensive repertoire. In fact, at the pro level Arenas has been a point guard in title only.

Moving over to shooting guard at this stage of his career would be an easy transition with little to no learning curve (Arenas played shooting guard at Arizona). With Wall operating as the team's floor general, the switch will allow him to concentrate fully on the strength that made him a star --- scoring points. According to Michael Lee of The Washington Post, Arenas reached out to Wall last month and talked to the rookie on a variety of subjects ranging from game preparation to physical conditioning.

It's just another reason why Arenas is poised for a strong bounce back is the looming reduction of workload.

No longer will Arenas be required to handle 85-90 percent of the ball handling duties with the expectation that he also provide 25-28 points in the process. The lesser role on the team in this instance should help Arenas get back into the groove quicker, especially with his undeniable court rust stemming from the major knee injury and off court troubles in recent years.

Sometimes physical rest is the best recipe for extending an athlete's career. During the 2005 and 2006 seasons, Arenas ranked third (40.9) and first (42.3) respectively in minutes per game.

Arenas trained in Chicago this summer under the watchful eyes of Tim Grover, whose best known for keeping Michael Jordan in prime physical conditioning. The reports surfacing from those who've witnessed the former All-Star on the comeback trail is that he has lost weight and has regained his explosiveness.

Once blessed with one of the quickest first steps off the dribble in the game, Arenas' knee problems limited his ability to attack the basket at will which effectively forced him to become more reliant on his perimeter game.

Wizards owner Ted Leonsis witnessed Arenas' play during a recent pickup game at the Verizon Center. Leonsis wrote the following analysis on his personal blog: "It was quite a show and quite a display of talent. Gilbert looked trim, fit and explosive. His shot was sweet and he did one left handed dunk that was something to see. It had everyone talking. I was impressed and am happy."

There's no doubt that Wall represents the future of pro basketball in the nation's capital, but the current success of the organization relies heavily on the surgically repaired knee of Arenas, who has been taking his offseason regimen seriously and showed the maturity of a true veteran by reaching out to Wall.

At 28, we must reiterate that Arenas averaged nearly 23 points last season when most felt his timing and quickness were subpar. Only ten other players averaged more points last year, a down year, which still puts him in rarified air. There's no reason a stronger bounce back isn't in store --- immediately.

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Yeah ,you have to give

Yeah ,you have to give Gilbert Major Props for working on his game and proving everyone wrong..I was hoping Orlando would pick in 2001 ..I felt he was a player alot of people were sleeping on....

I hope he has his mind right..Becuz before the Gun Incident he was doing alot of stupid stuff..that amused nobody but him...

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i dont know how good this

i dont know how good this team is defensively but they should be fun to watch. i believe gilbert arenas has atleast 4 or 5 more years before his career starts to dwindle. 3 years of mostly being inactive will have saved his legs and there is no reason to believe he still cant get 25ppg. i also think he can play very well beside wall. the only problem is that he doesnt really fit the wizards right now. they wont contend for a championship anytime soon and great players want rings. i think washington will showcase gilbert this year and try to trade him in the next 12 months. i think teams like orlando, san antonio, dallas, and portland could use him and he would most likely make all those teams better. i think gilbert will be the man this year in washington and the number 1 option on the team in an effort to trade him for cap room, picks, or young players. and i think they will use wall as the point guard but will try to make him mature as a player before they hand him the keys. they will use gilbert to groom wall. similar to what happens in football with young qbs.

point is gilbert will have a good year but washington will trade him. and when traded is when john wall will have the keys to lead the wizards.

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I think Arenas will bounce

I think Arenas will bounce back. He has the work ethic and determination to be a superstar.

He was hold back by injuries (he's well rested now) and then the gun incident. I still think it was a setup by the Wizards organization to try to void his contract, but failed. Bringing the gun was wrong, but making it such a big deal was an issue with the Wizards management handling the matter, whether it was intentionally mishandled or not ,the management still did a poor job.

The gun incident probably has humbled Gibert Arenas a lot, and he can certainly share the spotlight with John Wall (at least for the short while).

Last year, the Wizards didn't start well and I think it has something to do with Gibert Arenas wanted to prove he's still a superstar and did too much and became too selfish. It didn't work well with both Jamison and Butler because they were the keys for the Wizards during Arenas' absence, and the chemistry didn't work out. The current Wizards has no real #1 with John Wall being the future of the franchise and a humbled Arenas, it should be able to work out well for at least the coming season.

I think Ted Leonsis did a good job in rebuilding the relationship between Wizards and Areans while not making a rush to send Arenas off to another team in a rip off deal.

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