Editor's Note: For the next eight days, we're going to discuss and predict each individual player's production this year. This includes simpleton stats (aka per-game numbers) and the advanced ones (regular readers know these). Feel free to predict as many or as few categories as you like.
But even though I'm a big advanced stats guy, we all know hoops is more than just numbers. So, in addition to predicting numbers, use this space to discuss what you expect qualitatively from everyone this year. What do they need to do to improve? What do you want to see from them? How likely do you think that happens? What does each player need to do to help this team overachieve?
We start at the beginning of the alphabet and Gilbert Arenas.
- 13 games
- 32.7 minutes per game
- 19.4 points per game (21.3 pts/36 minutes)
- 3.9 rebounds per game (4.3/36)
- 5.1 assists per game (5.6/36)
- 6 3pt attempts per game, 7.4 free throw attempts per game
- 39.8 FG%, 28.2 3PT%, 77.1 FT%
- 45.4 eFG%, 52.9 TS% (yuck)
- 18.2 PER
- 27.4 Ast%
- 17.1 TO% (highest since 03/04 by a wide margin)
- 31.1 Usg% (percentage of possessions ended, either with shot, TO or free throw, when on the floor)
First and foremost, I'd like to see Gilbert Arenas fully healthy. I think that's a given.
Assuming he is, the most important thing is that Arenas learn better how to operate a slower-paced team. That is not the same thing as saying I want Arenas to be a "purer point guard" -- for what it's worth, his career turnover percentage numbers are outstanding and his assist percentages are not awful by any means. What it does mean, though, is that I want Arenas to curb his tendency to shoot long jumpers early in the shot clock. The whole "dribble downcourt, pound it five times to set up a contested 19-footer" routine? Don't do it unless it's at the end of the shot clock, when we need to put it up. Once or twice, when the halfcourt offense is stalling? Fine. But only once or twice. If it works once, that doesn't mean it's the right play. That alone will not only slow the Wizards down to a pace they were able to manage last year, but it'll also lower Arenas' usage rate, another goal he should set for himself.
At the same time, I want to see Arenas pushing the ball and looking for the fast break off opponents' misses. We lost that dimension of our offense went he went out and we need it back. Arenas is a great finisher and a better passer than he is given credit for being. That'll make life easier for Caron Butler, because he'll get driving lanes to finish and draw fouls, and Antawn Jamison, because he'll get more open threes in transition.
Finally, I want to see Arenas play better defense. Phil Chenier says it all the time, but there's no reason he can't be a very good defender. I want him to talk more, I want him to gamble less and I want him to prevent penetration. I don't expect him to be a lockdown defender, but he needs to at least be competent.
What I don't want is for Arenas to slow his game down to a crawl and hang on the perimeter mostly. I want him to isolate his defender, I want him to drive and create all the free throw opportunities he does. If his drive doesn't work, though, I don't want to see him forcing a shot. Pull it back out, run your second options and let Caron be the facilitator.
- Arenas returns in early- to mid-January, so 50 games at around 37 minutes per game
- His usage rate drops to 29.7 or so
- His scoring average drops to 23.8
- For assists, let's say 6.2
- He shoots 43 percent from the field, but his eFG% is 51% and his TS% is 56.2.
- His turnover rate goes down to 11.2
- His PER is 22.4
- He averages 6.8 threes a game and 7.5 free throws a game