Thursday , Apr , 01 , 2010 C.Y. Ellis

How good is Gilbert Arenas?

(Sports Network) – All-Star guard Gilbert Arenas is playing like an MVP this
season for the Washington Wizards. He has stepped up his game and belongs in
the same sentence with the elite players in the NBA.

Arenas, who led the Wizards to the playoffs the last two years, is
performing at a different level this season. The 24-year-old Arenas leads
Washington in scoring and assists and continues to hit clutch shots when his
team needs a bucket.

The Wizards have some talent on their roster. Forward Antawn Jamison is an
excellent second option to Arenas. The 6-9 Jamison can score and is a solid
rebounder. Head coach Eddie Jordan’s offense revolves around the talents of
Arenas and Jamison.

Caron Butler has also stepped up for the Wizards. The 26-year-old forward is
athletic and gives Washington a potent threesome along with Arenas and
Jamison. Butler, who averaged 17.6 points last season for Washington, is
averaging over 20 points per game this season.

After Arenas, Butler and Jamison, the Wizards have plenty of role players.
Antonio Daniels, Jarvis Hayes and DeShawn Stevenson are athletic and versatile
guards, while Etan Thomas and Brendan Haywood are big bodies who are not
afraid to get physical in the low post.

Butler and Jamison are solid players, but Arenas has jumped to a different
plateau. Arenas, who has become a perennial All-Star, now belongs in the same
class as guards Kobe Bryant, Allen Iverson and Steve Nash, who has won the MVP
the last two seasons. In fact, Arenas look like he going to have to get some
serious consideration for this year’s MVP.

In Washington’s first 28 games this season, Arenas has scored 20 or more
points 25 times. He has taken over games single-handidly and has become the
emotional leader of the Wizards, who may actually be a major factor in the
East because of Arenas’ magnificent play.

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 as a free agent with the Wizards in August 2003. After a rough first
season, 25-57 in the 2003-04 campaign, with Washington, the Wizards acquired
Jamison from Golden State to give Arenas some help.

Butler and Jamison deserve some credit for the emergence of Arenas. They have
made it easier for the deadly Arenas to get better looks at the basket. Now
that Washington has three threats on offense, it has made its offense more
efficient.

It has been said often, great players make their teammates better. And that is
what Arenas is doing this season. Not to discredit the contributions of Butler
and Jamison, but because of Arenas’ dominant play his teammates have all
become more productive. Whenever Arenas touches the ball, Washington’s
opponents swarm and the Arizona product draws a double and sometimes a triple
team.

The defending world champion Miami Heat, who have struggled early on, Detroit
and Cleveland are the favorites in the Eastern Conference. When Shaquille
O’Neal returns the Heat will be very tough to beat, while the Pistons have the
talent and experience and everyone is waiting for LeBron James to get the
Cavaliers over the hump.

Arenas has put himself on the map for the NBA superstars. He is one of the
most dangerous players in the league and teams know when the Wizards need
points, he wants the ball in his hands.

The NBA All-Star Game is scheduled to be played on February 18, 2007 in Las
Vegas, Nevada. There is no doubt that Arenas will be participating in his
third mid-season classic.

After the All-Star Game, the challenge for Arenas will be to try and help the
Wizards, who did advance to conference semifinals in the 2005 postseason but
were eliminated in the opening round by Cleveland in 2006, make some noise in
the playoffs.

It’s hard not to notice what Arenas is doing this season. Washington is
winning games and its All-Star guard is red hot.

Could Arenas be the 2006-07 MVP? Why not, he is that good!

WAS