Gilbert Arenas: From Behind The Zero – 2010-11 Player Preview | Wizards Blog Truth About

Gilbert Arenas: From Behind The Zero – 2010-11 Player Preview

Updated: September 27, 2010

[Wizards 2010-11 Player Preview Index: Gilbert Arenas, Hilton Armstrong, Andray Blatche,
Trevor Booker, Kirk Hinrich, Josh Howard, Yi Jianlian, JaVale McGee, Kevin Seraphin,
Al Thornton, John Wall, Nick Young.]

The Intro.

-by Kyle Weidie

Gilbert Arenas, we meet again. More come back attempts than Lindsay Lohan, and you’d be hard-pressed to determine which one wants more attention. And that’s the key part of the Arenas “re-embracing” by Washingtonians and the media beast.

The playing part will be easy, I think. We’ll go over a couple stats in a subsequent section, but Arenas wasn’t all that bad last season. At least in his ability to adjust, or attempts to adjust to a new coach’s system. Essentially, Arenas’ efforts on the court were earnest, he was making wholehearted attempts to balance the role of what he wanted to be, a playmaker, and the role the team also needed and wanted him to be, a scorer. If you’re going to put horse blinders on, only looking to the basketball court, and try to rank why the Wizards failed in the games before the gun incident, Arenas would be way down on the list.

The gun thing. It is what it is. A lot of people take a lot of issues with several aspects of Finger Gunz, myself included. Looking back, what I most took issue with is Arenas’ repeated lies on the matter. Issue a fake gag order or not, but not coming clean on the process and the cover up reflects poorly upon the real lesson here.

Sure, Gilbert’s play will do the talking, but for the city to truly re-embrace him, he’s going to have to use his words … or they’ll just be saved for someone’s memoir book deal.

The Summer.

-by Stephen D. Riley

You don’t have to praise him, but credit Arenas at least this much: he stayed out of trouble, stayed focused and kept quiet this summer. You try napping at a halfway house, absorbing everyday ridicule and watching your job draft your potential replacement while taking it in stride. He deserves some credit, but it’s credit he probably won’t get, and might not deserve. After all, it was his own back-to-school rerun that left him exposed to critics and calls of dumbass. But through it all, he handled it like a trooper.

He was practically voted housemate of the year according to positive reports from the Montgomery County Pre-Release Center and impressed Washington Wizards owner Ted Leonsis at a Verizon Center pickup game. Leonsis eulogized Arenas in his personal blog last month, describing the guard’s performance as “quite a show and quite a display of talent.”Hard to knock words like that when it’s coming from the club’s check signer. Then again, he has a reason to be positive.

Arenas has kept himself and his thoughts on chill the past few months, with his only public sightings touting his game and work ethic. Even out of sight, he stayed on the mind. He played a 50-percent part in the summer’s antagonizing analysis over whether he could coexist with the newly drafted John Wall. The enigma only helped to fuel trade rumors with the Orlando Magic and even assisted the notion of whether his contract would get bought out directly. And when he wasn’t busy being dissected, he was busy fighting law suits from California gun dealers over claims of unpaid storage fees. Yes, it was one long, hot-ass summer for the former “Hibachi.” The nonchalant, devil-may-care persona that helped serve him 30 days actually served him best at the time when he needed it the most.

Arenas will arrive from the offseason as a glorified villain to some, so maybe laying low this summer was the best thing. You never want your favorite organization to go through what it endured last year with Arenas. And you never want your organization’s top player to blacken the franchise the way Arenas did. But despite the embarrassment, the organization has used this summer to bounce back in the best way possible. And judging by reviews, Arenas has used this time to bounce back the best way he could. Credit him that much because after all, the guy had a rough summer.

The Stat.

-by Kyle Weidie

Gunners don’t pass, do they?  Well, let’s compare the passing numbers of Arenas’ last season of basketball relevancy prior to 2009-10 (the season in which he originally hurt his knee on April 4, 2007), when he played 74 games in Eddie Jordan’s pro-style Princeton offense, which demanded that he take a lot of shots.

stat 06-07 09-10 diff.
ast% 27.2 36.3 + 9.1
ast/36 mins 5.4 7.1 + 1.7
ast:to 1.88 1.96 + 0.08
ast/gm leading to FG at rim 2.3 3.0 + 0.7
passer rating 8.4 11.6 + 3.2

* Assist percentage is an estimate of the percentage of teammate field goals a player assisted while he was on on the floor.

* Passer Rating from; other stats also gathered from and

These stats aren’t absolute, but I do think they show that Arenas was trying to get the ball moving to others last season, in a brief 32 games … more than he ever has in his career.

The problem in ’09-10 was Arenas’ jump shot, which leads me into the next section …

The Play.

-by Kyle Weidie

Arenas is expected to do a great deal more of spot-up shooting next season. He will be counted on to score, which might be good … that is, to give him a role more defined on the latter side of the create for others/score for your team pendulum.

According the Synergy Sports Technology, Arenas had 820 total offensive plays that ended in a FGA, TO or FTs. He was able to get plays run for him through off-ball screens 24 times, accounting for just 2.9-percent of his total plays. Those numbers are likely to go up measurably. On those 24 plays, he only produced a measley 0.38 points per possession, shooting 4-22 on field-goals and 1-9 from three point land. Yep that’s going to be an adjustment too.

Knowing this, let’s take a look an an out of bounds play similar to one the Wizards ran last year when Earl Boykins and Arenas were on the court together.

The three man, in this case I like Yi Jianlian, depending on the defensive matchup, or perhaps to create a mis-match in the post, takes the ball out of bounds on the side. The one, John Wall, gets free from the right block from a screen from the five, for the hell of it, say Sean Marks, and breaks to receive the pass in the backcourt.

The two, Gilbert Arenas takes his man baseline to set up the screen from the four man, Andray Blatche. Gil pops out, reacting to how his man plays the screen, let’s assume the defender goes around the screen and Arenas receives the pass from Wall popping out behind the three-point line, ideally open.

The three, Yi, goes from fading in the opposite corner to using a screen from Marks. Yi can either come over the screen or set his man up and go baseline to get a post up on the block opposite to him. Because the defender is assumed to go around the screen here, Arenas takes the three-point shot. Depending on the situation, he could drive the baseline, as Blatche turns around and sets a side screen for him, after which Blatche could pop out for a long jumper, and Arenas can either drive to the hoop while Yi clears the lane or find the posting up Yi.

In the example below, Arenas pulls up for the three point shot. Also, alternately the three man, instead of taking the five man’s pick on the block, can cut to the top of the key, receiving a down screen from the one.

The Comparison.

-by John Townsend

Today’s Gilbert Arenas comparison is brought to you by an ancient Anatolian civilization: the Hittites. Getting straight to the point, there are plenty of parallels between Gilbert Arenas (Washington, D.C.’s first black president) and Hittite king Hattusili I (1586–1556 BC).

Hattusili I was not first in line for the Hittite throne. He was designated successor to the throne by PU-Surruma (pre-Empire Hittite king), whose own sons revolted against him. Early in his reign, the young king identified himself as Labarna. It wasn’t until he moved the Hittite capital from Neša to Ḫattuša, that he used the title of Hattusili. Hattusili held enemy land in subjugation by his might, overwhelming lesser peoples and extending the Hittite empire as far as the Mediterranean coast in the south, and the Black Sea in the north. Hattusili dominated the Anatolian plains like a lion for six years.

Gilbert Arenas entered the Association in 2001 – the second choice of the Golden State Warriors. Arenas was “doubted, scorned, and left to fend for himself. … Given an opportunity at the point, he promptly established himself as a one-man scoring onslaught.”1

In 2003, Arenas joined the Washington Wizards. He quickly became a local hero and a national superstar. More importantly, he put DC hoops back on the map. Arenas led the Wizards to four straight playoff campaigns, including an appearance in the Eastern Conference Semi-Finals in 2004-2005 (the Wizards’ first playoff appearance since the 1996-1997 season). Arenas was named to three consecutive All-Star teams and is one of only two players in franchise history to score 2,000+ points in three consecutive seasons. Again mirroring Hattusili, Arenas adopted a new name in 2006: the now-infamous “Agent Zero” moniker. His rise to prominence was delectable. It was napalm. It was impossible.

However, destiny would not be denied: Arenas fell victim to devastating knee injuries which kept him out of 149 games between 2007 and 2009. Just last year, just when Gilbert finally seemed poised to make a comeback, his season was again cut short by That-Incident-Which-Shall-Not-Be-Named. Today, on the eve of his fourth comeback, Gilbert Arenas is a once-was; a has-been (and a could-be-again?). He is returning to basketball without fanfare, without a following, and seemingly without power. With John Wall holding court as the new face of the franchise, Arenas is no longer king in D.C. What a six-year reign it was.

1 [CITATION: FreeDarko. The Macrophenomenal Pro Basketball Almanac: Styles, Stats, and Stars in Today’s Game. 1. New York: Bloomsbury, 2008. 51. Print.]

The Future.

-by Arish Narayen

To borrow a media cliché, Gilbert Arenas has always played with a chip on his shoulder. Prior to The Event Which Shall Not Be Named, something else overshadowed Arenas’ game:  The Perceived Slight — when Arenas fell to the second round in the 2001 NBA draft — seemingly motivated everything Gilbert did, from his ability to shoot a team in-and-out of games, to the “Yeah, I just did that” look on Gil’s face after every made basket. The essence of Agent Zero was this disrespect: every night, Arenas tried to prove his detractors wrong with his play on the court.

Then, a Hot Mess occurred. Interestingly enough, post-Hot Mess, Gilbert gave up his Agent Zero persona for the number six. Michael Lee, who first reported Arenas’ request to change his number, offered these two explanations: Arenas’ birthday is January 6th, and the NBA indefinitely suspended him on January 6, 2010. I could be off-base, but I think that Gilbert wanted his number changed for the latter reason: to serve as a constant reminder that he now has to prove himself against both basketball critics and the weight of public opinion.

From a more pragmatic standpoint, Gilbert Arenas gets to play shooting guard in 2010-11. As a result, Arenas will get to play off the ball more and (hopefully) get more clean looks at the basket, but he will likely draw tougher defensive assignments. I wouldn’t be surprised if Flip Saunders employed some Hinrich-Arenas rotations to let Gil save his energies for the offensive end. There isn’t too much to say about Arenas defensively, as criticism of his lack of effort has been well-chronicled. But the position change should be beneficial overall, as Arenas’ propensity to pound the rock into the floor should no longer prevent the initiation of the offense.

Per Arenas’ HoopData Shot Chart, Arenas can increase his offensive efficiency in 2010-11 by taking more shots at the rim and behind the arc, like he did in 2007. I actually need Gilbert to make these changes for my well-being as well, because I die a little inside everytime he takes a long two. Other than the standard criticism for pure scorers like Gil, i.e., that he needs to be more careful with his shot selection and increase his effort on the defensive end, there’s little else to say. Arenas is still superbly talented, and he should be returning completely healthy. Let’s hope Act Two of the Zero to Hero saga ends a bit better than Act One.

Play Diagrams in this post were created in FastDraw.
To learn more about FastDraw and to purchase it today visit their website at

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Kyle Weidie
Founder / Editor / Reporter / Writer at TAI
Kyle founded TAI in 2007 and has been weaving in and out the world of Wizards ever since, ducking WittmanFaces, jumping over G-Wiz, and avoiding stints on the DNP-Conditioning list. He has covered the Washington pro basketball team as a member of the media since 2009. Kyle currently lives in Brooklyn, NY with his wife, loves basketball, and has no pets.