Monday , Feb , 07 , 2005 C.Y. Ellis

Points in the Paint

By Warren Blatt, Sports Network NBA Editor

Philadelphia, PA (Sports Network) – The starters for the East and West in
the 54th annual NBA All-Star Game have already been determined. On Tuesday,
the reserves for both conferences will be announced.

For the first time since 1987, Washington has two players that could represent
the franchise in the All-Star Game, which will be played on February 20th at
the Pepsi Center.

In 1987, the Washington Bullets, who became the Wizards for the 1997-98
regular season, were represented in the All-Star Game by center Moses Malone
and guard Jeff Malone. Washington’s Antawn Jamison and Gilbert Arenas both
deserve to be on the Eastern Conference bench on February 20th in Denver,
Colorado.

The Wizards have been one of the biggest surprises in the league this season,
as they own a 27-19 record after 46 games played. Jamison, who was acquired in
a blockbuster deal with the Dallas Mavericks in June 2004, and Arenas are the
two biggest reasons that Washington has a chance to qualify for the postseason
for the first time since the 1996-97 season.

Arenas is playing in his fourth season in the league and has never appeared in
an All-Star Game in his career. Originally selected after his sophomore season
at Arizona by the Golden State Warriors in the second round (31st pick
overall) of the 2001 NBA Draft, Arenas signed with Washington as a free agent
in August 2003.

The 23-year-old Arenas, who averages just under 40 minutes of action per game,
has been phenomenal for the Wizards this season. The explosive point guard has
played in 44 of Washington’s first 46 contests and leads the club in scoring
at 24.3 points per game. He has also recorded 4.2 rebounds and 5.2 assists per
game.

The Arizona product has been consistent this season, as he has scored in
double-digits in 42 of 44 games and has netted 20 or more points in 34
contests. Arenas, who has led the Wizards in scoring in 24 of the team’s first
46 games, is shooting 43 percent from the field and 36 percent from three-
point range.

Arenas has tough competition at guard in the Eastern Conference.
Philadelphia’s Allen Iverson and Cleveland’s LeBron James were selected by the
fans to be the starting backcourt for the All-Star Game. Boston’s Paul Pierce,
Chauncey Billups of the Pistons, Miami’s Dwyane Wade, New York’s Stephon
Marbury Orlando’s Steve Francis and Michael Redd of the Bucks are all
possibilities for the reserve guard spots on the East squad.

The 27-year-old Jamison, who is playing in his seventh season in the league,
has also never played in an NBA All-Star Game. Jamison, who played his college
ball at North Carolina, played the first five seasons of his career with
Golden State (1998-2003) and spent the 2003-04 campaign with the Mavericks.

Jamison, who has not missed a regular season game since 1999-00, has provided
the scoring and rebounding that the Wizards lacked up front last season. The
North Carolina product is averaging 20.4 points and a team-high 8.2 rebounds
per game. He has started all 46 of Washington’s contests and is playing over
39 minutes per game.

The 6-9 Jamison has scored in double-digits 43 times this season and has
netted 20 or more points in 24 of those contests. He has registered 18 double-
doubles and has played 40 or more minutes in 27 games.

New Jersey’s Vince Carter and Orlando’s Grant Hill are the starting forwards
for the East. The depth at guard in the conference is much greater than it is
at forward. Jamison should absolutely be playing in Denver on February
20th.

Arenas and Jamison have made the Wizards a playoff contender this season. Both
players have played like All-Stars, and they have earned the right to make
their first appearances in an NBA All-Star Game.