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