A post like this has always been floating around in my head, but I guess Michael Wilbon's post-lottery piece finally gave me the inspiration to put pen to paper:
Watching the draft lottery last night in the ESPN studios, Magic Johnson, considering the Wizards' personnel and what they might pick up in the draft if they keep their pick, said, "Who's your point guard?"
My answer, of course, was, "Gilbert Arenas?
"Magic: "Okay, let me try this again: Who's your point guard?"
Okay, I get it. Arenas, which I've been saying for some time now, shouldn't be the starting point guard. It's one thing for me to say it; it's another thing for Magic Johnson to say it. If Magic says the Wizards should have a pure, set-up-his-teammates point guard to run the offense, I'm listening.
Of course, we all know that the most common criticism with Gilbert's game is that he shoots too much and doesn't do enough to get his teammates involved. It's a nice thing to tell the kids as you drive in a lesson about being a good teammate and all that fun stuff, but the reality is that Gilbert's ability to run the offense has never been the problem with the team.
If Gilbert's playing style was holding the offense back, we'd see the proof in the team's offensive efficiency. In the last three years that Arenas was healthy, the Wizards finished 10th, 6th, and 3rd in offensive efficiency. Sure, they never finished first in any of those years, but they certainly performed well enough on the offensive side of the ball to be a legitimate contender. All three of those years, Arenas piloted the offense to top-10 status and twice the Wizards finished with a more productive offense than the eventual champion. Call me crazy, but if there's an aspect of the game that you're doing better than the eventual World Champion, then maybe it's not a problem.
That's not to say that there still aren't things that could get better. No offense is flawless, but shaking up the roster by moving Gilbert to the two so the team can have a pure point guard misses the team's true problem: Defense. Kelly Dwyer did an excellent job in this post of summing up the attitude that so many of us have to defensive side of the ball:
I don't understand it, "it" boggles the mind, I can understand the impetus behind the omissions but that doesn't excuse the laziness that results: most mainstream media outlets outright refuse to discuss defense.
Or, more specifically, they'll mention defense one time for every ten times that they mention a team's offense doing well, a team's offense faltering, a team not having enough basketballs to go around, a team not going to a certain player enough, a team giving too many shots to a certain player, a team playing unselfishly offensively, a team playing selfishly offensively, a team playing hesitant offensively, a team not being aggressive enough offensively, a team shooting too many threes, a team without a low-post scoring presence, a team that hasn't had time to get on the same page offensively ... you get the idea.
And it's half the game. I'm not going to perpetuate the pointless stereotype that says "defensive wins championships," (defense and offense in concert, not sure if you've heard, win championships in reality), but it's half the bloody game and it gets 1/15th the air and print time that offense does.
Admittedly, Gilbert is just as guilty as anyone else for why the Wizards have struggled so mightily on the defensive end. But unless the Wizards can bring in a big point guard (Tyreke Evans, anyone?) moving Gilbert to the 2 would make the Wizards smaller in the backcourt which would likely lead to even poorer defense and there's no guarantee that the Wizards would even get better on the offensive end, considering that they're a pretty good offensive outfit as it is. Rather than trying to bring in a player to make an offense that's already superb better, let's focus on targeting someone who can raise the defense to a similar level.