Underappreciated Players of this Millennium – Gilbert Arenas

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Underappreciated Players of this Millennium – Gilbert Arenas

Even though Arenas is more famous than the usual suspects in this segment, he needs to be in it, simply because he was one of the best guards in the league for years!

 

When you hear the name ‘Gilbert Arenas’ most of you probably think of the gun inciedent

 

[On December 24, 2009, it was revealed that Arenas had admitted to storing unloaded firearms in his locker at Verizon Center and had surrendered them to team security. In doing so, Arenas not only violated NBA rules against bringing firearms into an arena, but also violated D.C. ordinances as well. On January 1, 2010, it was also reported that Arenas and teammate Javaris Crittenton had unloaded guns in the Wizards’ locker room during a Christmas Eve argument regarding gambling debts. The D.C. Metropolitan Police and the U.S. Attorney’s office began investigating, and on January 14, 2010, Arenas was charged with carrying a pistol without a license, a violation of Washington D.C.’s gun-control laws. Arenas pleaded guilty on January 15 to the felony of carrying an unlicensed pistol outside a home or business.

On January 6, 2010, Arenas’s 28th birthday, the NBA suspended Arenas indefinitely without pay until its investigation was complete. By nearly all accounts, the league felt compelled to act when Arenas’s teammates surrounded him during pregame introductions prior to a game with the Philadelphia 76ers, and he pretended to shoot them with guns made from his fingers. Former NBA Commissioner David Stern said in a statement that Arenas’s behavior after the investigation started “has led me to conclude that he is not currently fit to take the court in an NBA game.” He also said that Arenas was likely facing a lengthy suspension. The Wizards issued a statement of their own condemning the players’ pregame stunt as “unacceptable.” On January 27, 2010, Arenas and Crittenton were suspended for the rest of the season, after meeting with Stern. On February 2, 2010, Arenas wrote an open editorial in the Washington Post, in which he apologized for his actions, particularly for failing to be a better role model to young fans and for “making light of a serious situation.

On March 26, 2010, Arenas was convicted for his crimes and was sentenced to two years probation and 30 days in a halfway house. Arenas started his sentence in the halfway house on April 9. He was released on May 7. The punishment for Arenas was significantly stiffer than for Crittenton, who received a year of unsupervised probation, or even Delonte West, who had been driving around neighboring Prince George’s County with several loaded guns including a shotgun in a violin case. For his crime West received eight months home detention, two months of unsupervised probation, and forty hours of community service. In November 2011 Crittenton was charged with murder in connection with the shooting of Julian Jones in Atlanta, Georgia.]

 

other people may think of Arenas being one of the best paid players for years, only that he wasn’t playing a single game.

 

But Gilbert Arenas was much more than that. He was an elite NBA player, one of the best and most talented guards of our time. He was a three time All-Star and member of three All NBA Teams. In his second year in the league, Agent 0 won the MIP Award. In his prime year from 2003-2007, he was a matchup nightmare.

 

Strenghts:

He was almost unguardable thanks to his ability to build his game off his fantastic shooting ability. He was one of the most effective players in the NBA in ISO situations, due to his perimeter accuracy and his unpredictable offensive attack. Arenas mixed up his drives very well and didn’t favor one side of the court, so getting a handle on how he’s going to attack was extremely difficult. He’s had good explosive strength going to the basket, finishing well after contact or elevating after turning the corner on his man. He also got to the free throw line incredibly well, which made him extremely difficult to guard.

 

Controversial playing style:

Arenas also did have the defensive ability when he commited to it, which was virtually never. His size and length complemented his excellent quickness and made him a difficult guard to beat to the basket or pull-up in ISO unchallenged, but he rarely had the inclination to show it. Arenas was extremely prone to being drawn into personal duels between himself and the opposing team’s star, so his shot-selection and defensive intensity was determined by the challenge.

 

Prime years in D.C, Injuries & Downfall:

 

Prime:

Take a look at his prime year averages and you’ll see why he fits the underappreciated category.

 

2003-2004: 19.6 PPG / 4.6 REB / 5.0 AST / 1.9 STL

2004-2005: 25.5 PPG / 4.7 REB / 5.1 AST / 1.7 STL

2005-2006: 29.3 PPG / 3.5 REB / 6.1 AST / 2.0 STL

2006-2007: 28.4 PPG / 4.6 REB / 6.0 AST / 1.9 STL

 

Arenas averaged 29.3 points, which ranked fourth among the scoring leaders, two steals (also fourth), and 6.1 assists per game during the 2005–06 NBA season. Despite his accomplishments, neither fans nor coaches selected Arenas to the 2006 All-Star Game. He was able to get in due to the injury to Indiana Pacers forward–center Jermaine O’Neal. He also participated in the Three-point Shootout, where he was the runner-up to Dirk Nowitzki in the contest. The Washington Wizards finished 42-40 and clinched the fifth seed in the Eastern Conference.

During the off-season, Arenas said that he was willing to take a pay cut in order to give the Wizards additional money with which to sign available free agents. He had expressed a desire to win a championship with the Wizards. One of Arenas’ most memorable plays was a 40-foot jump shot in Round 1 of the 2006 NBA playoffs in which the Wizards were eliminated by the Cleveland Cavaliers in six games.

 

On January 3, 2007, Arenas hit a 32-foot buzzer-beater to win the game against the Milwaukee Bucks, 108–105. Two weeks later on Martin Luther King, Jr. Day he hit yet another buzzer-beating three-pointer to beat the Utah Jazz, 114–111, in a thriller at the Verizon Center. This same scenario has been added as a cut scene in the video game NBA Live 2008. He also hit a game-winning layup as time expired to beat the Seattle SuperSonics on March 21, 2007.

In an overtime game versus the Los Angeles Lakers on December 17, 2006 at the Staples Center in Los Angeles, Arenas scored a career-high 60 points, adding 8 rebounds and 8 assists in helping lead the Wizards over the Lakers 147–141.

Arenas now holds the Wizards’ franchise record for most points scored in a game by an individual. The previous record was held by Earl Monroe with 56 points, achieved in 1968 which was also an overtime game against the Lakers. Arenas’s 16 points in the extra period also set an NBA record for most points in one overtime period, surpassing Earl Boykins’ record by one point.

Arenas himself has noted that he withdrew from the United States national team for the 2006 FIBA World Championship because he felt that assistant coaches Mike D’Antoni and Nate McMillan had pre-determined the roster even prior to tryouts. Afterward, he stated that he planned on averaging 50 points against their respective teams (Phoenix Suns and Portland Trail Blazers). He succeeded at his goal versus powerhouse Phoenix, scoring 54 points, including 21-of-37 from the field, 6-of-12 three-pointers (while reportedly eyeing in the direction of Suns chairman Jerry Colangelo), in a high-scoring 144–139 Wizards win over the Suns.

In February 2007, during the final days of All-Star voting, Arenas was voted as a first-time starter for the 2007 NBA All-Star game for the Eastern Conference, edging out Vince Carter by a slight margin. At the time he was averaging 29.7 points per game, and led all Eastern Conference point guards in scoring and was second in the league.

Injuries:

Towards the end of the season Arenas tore his MCL during a game against the Charlotte Bobcats when Gerald Wallace fell into his leg.

During the offseason, Arenas told The Washington Post that he would “opt out” of his contract after the 2007–08 season, making him a free agent. He stated, “…if something happens where they don’t want me or they’re going in a different direction, I can look elsewhere. But my intentions are not to leave.”

Arenas had only played in 8 games during the 2007–08 season, due to a knee injury, before he started practicing again in March, and returned to action on April 2, 2008 against the Milwaukee Bucks, scoring 17 points in a 110–109 home loss.

Ten days prior, Arenas stormed out of the locker room before a game against the Detroit Pistons. He had wanted to play, but his doctor did not give him clearance. Arenas made a surprise return on April 9, when he came out of the locker room with 5:30 left in the first quarter. He finished the game scoring 13 points and dishing out 3 assists in helping the Wizards beat the Boston Celtics 109–95. He came off the bench for the rest of the regular season as not to disrupt the chemistry the Wizards had built without him. Arenas got his wish when they matched up against the Cavaliers for the third straight year; however, it was apparent he was not 100% healthy. In games 1–3, he played limited minutes, citing soreness in his surgically repaired knee. A few minutes before game 4 of their first-round playoff appearance against the Cavaliers, Arenas announced he would sit out the rest of the playoffs.

On June 9, 2008, Arenas officially opted out of the final year of his contract. Arenas also stated that he would consider re-signing with the Wizards if they were able to retain fellow free agent and teammate Antawn Jamison. The Wizards did indeed sign Jamison to a contract. Arenas was offered a five-year contract worth more than $100 million by the Golden State Warriors and another max deal by the Wizards, a six-year deal worth $124 million.

On July 13, 2008, Arenas signed a contract worth $111 million over six years with the Wizards.

Due to the various injuries he had been getting since April 2007, Arenas did not play in any game at all for the Wizards until March 28, 2009, scoring 15 points and dishing 10 assists in a 98–96 loss to the Detroit Pistons.

He also played a second and final game against the number one seed Cleveland Cavaliers on April 2, in which both teams wore their respective throwback jerseys. Arenas dished out 10 assists and scored 11 points, in a win, and fans were excited to see Arenas, Brendan Haywood, Antawn Jamison and Caron Butler re-uniting for the only time in the season. However, the Wizards finished poorly with a record of 19-63, the 2nd worst record in the NBA, tied with the Los Angeles Clippers, ending their four years of consecutive playoff appearances.

Arenas opened the 2009–10 season on a hopeful note, scoring 29 points as the Wizards beat the Dallas Mavericks 102–91 in their season opener. However, Arenas’ performance would be inconsistent in the weeks ahead; on November 11, he set a Wizards team record for turnovers in a game with 12. On December 12, Arenas netted his first triple double in five and a half years in a loss to the Pacers. Six days later Arenas had a season-best 45 points in a Wizards win over his former team, the Golden State Warriors.

After his suspension, he played 24 games (17.3PPG) for the Wizards, before he was traded to the Orlando Magic for Rashard Lewis. Arenas chose to wear #1 on his jersey in honor of his favorite player, Penny Hardaway. He was the backup point guard, with Jameer Nelson at the starting role. The Magic finished 52-30 and clinched the fourth seed in the Eastern Conference and made the playoffs. However the Orlando Magic lost to the Atlanta Hawks in six games in the opening round of the playoffs.

On December 9, 2011, Arenas was waived by the Orlando Magic under the amnesty clause. He cleared waivers and became a free agent. Due to the 2011 NBA lockout, the 2011-2012 NBA season was reduced from its normal 82 games to 66 games.[47

On March 20, 2012, the Memphis Grizzlies signed Arenas. He was once again the backup point guard, with Mike Conley Jr. at the starting role. The Memphis Grizzlies finished 41-25 and clinched the fourth seed in the Western Conference and made the playoffs for the second time in a row. However, the Memphis Grizzlies lost to the Los Angeles Clippers in a full seven game series. That was the last time he played in the NBA.

 

Summary:

If you consider how talented he was, you can say that he wasted his career. Had he acted more mature and exemplary we would now discuss if he is a first ballot hall of famer or not. I remember waching a lot of Wizards games back then, not because I liked the team, but simply because it was amazing to see Agent Zero got to work. He ended his NBA career with following averages:

20.7 PPG / 3.8 REB / 5.3 AST / 1.6 STL

The numbers are strong and look elite, and one can only imagine how incredibly good these numbers would look like, had he reached his full potential.

 

 

All of this leads to Arenas fitting this category

 

 

(sources: wikipedia.org; draftexpress)

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