All the talk this preseason has been about changes in Gilbert Arenas the personality (although we suspect the new, business-like Arenas is more about what he shows the media than teammates), but we have missed the change in Gilbert Arenas the player.
Gone is Agent Zero the gunner, replaced by a much more efficient player, as Michael Lee of the Washington Post noted.
If you look at Arenas’s numbers in the preseason, he has been more efficient than prolific. He is not trying to do more than he has to. He isn’t forcing plays or drives. And, he is taking “quality shots” within the flow of the offense. Being flanked by Wall and Kirk Hinrich has really worked to Arenas’s advantage because he doesn’t have to be burdened as the sole decision-maker. He has just one turnover and is able to showcase his shooting ability. Arenas is averaging 13.7 points, on 50 percent shooting (16 for 32) from the floor, with 3.7 rebounds and 2.7 assists in 26 minutes.
For comparison, Arenas has never shot better than 45.3 percent from the floor before, and not better than 41.8 percent in the last four years. He is shooting 46.7 percent from three this preseason, up from 34.8 percent last season.
Yes, we are talking three preseason games, which is a long, long way from being able to do the same thing during the regular season.
But the theory has long been that when a player is more selective in his shots, just taking the good ones he wants not forcing others, he will shoot a higher percentage and be better for the team that way.
If this pattern holds into the regular season, the Wizards may get more out of Arenas than they had even hoped.