LA's Finest: Two Point Gods With Something To Prove

Jeffrey EngmannCorrespondent IJuly 21, 2009

CLEVELAND - APRIL 21:  Gilbert Arenas #0 of the Washington Wizards tries to get around LeBron James #23 of the Cleveland Cavaliers in Game Two of the Eastern Conference Quarterfinals during the 2008 NBA Playoffs at Quicken Loans Arena April 21, 2008 in Cleveland, Ohio.  NOTE TO USER: User expressly acknowledges and agrees that, by downloading and or using this photograph, User is consenting to the terms and conditions of the Getty Images License Agreement.  (Photo by Gregory Shamus/Getty Images)

Gilbert Arenas and Baron Davis are arguably the two most unique point guards in basketball. They possess both size and strength, and an uncanny ability to finish at the rim while absorbing contact. Interestingly enough they both hail from the city of Angels.

When Arenas was dominanting the high school basketball circuit in Los Angeles, Davis was making a name for himself at UCLA. It was back then when the two were beloved, and almost treated as point Gods.

And then the NBA happened. Stricken by injuries, both players inability to stay on the court has tested the patience of fans.

But before resorting to being resentful and rendering them inefficient and unworthy of their current contracts, let's remember that they both have had their backs against the wall before. Both were characterized as misfits after their team USA blunders and now both are expected to help their lottery teams make significant improvement. Therefore, the 2009-2010 season could potentially be a year of redemption for the two of them, and even Hollywood couldn't have scripted it any better.

Gilbert Arenas: 28, 6 and 5. Two years ago, that wasn’t a spectacular night for Wizards star Gilbert Arenas, it was simply a hard day’s work. And truthfully it didn’t seem all that hard for him. The pull up threes from 28 feet, the game winners, and the antics that followed all looked effortless. The journey from zero to hero certainly took a couple years for Arenas travel, but once landing in the nation’s capital, a true basketball wizard was finally given the necessary platform to showcase all his tricks. The Wade-esque numbers had some people talking, and even prompted Gilbert himself to do a little self touting. Before athletes were barking in a yard Gilbert was making online his main domain, blogging his honest thoughts about almost anything that came to mind.  At times it may have been to honest.
And that’s where the love and the hate for such a hard working star stemmed from; the divide between people who love Arenas and others who believe Gilbertology is simply a selfish ideology.  But if numbers don’t lie it’s hard ignore the fact that before his unfortunate stretch of bad luck Arenas was easily on his way to becoming a top ten players in the league, schooling anyone whose ever overlooked, as he ventured to join that elite class of players that his name is seldom grouped with. 
     In his few guest appearances at the Verizon Center last season, a gimpy Arenas still was able to dazzle, leading the Wizard’s to an impressive victoriy over the Cavaliers, and coming a basket within victory against the Detroit Pistons in his first game back. His shooting percentage in those two games was ann abysmal 26 percent. But even when his shot wasn’t falling he was able to give a glimpse to Wizard’s fans of how unique a point guard he is.  Truthfully I’m not sure if the assist numbers are what should get Wizard’s fans excited. 

With Arenas its more than just basketball skills, its his presence on and off the court that make him a luxury to have. Some have put the overrated tag on him because of the lucrative contract an inability to stay healthy, but what is Arenas do. Say sorry?

Reports out of Washington this off season have stated that he’s already lost 15 pounds this season. Looks like he’s up to his old zero to hero tricks, using the motivation as fuel to come back better than ever.  With new coach Flip Saunders, he will have even more control of the offense, and with the addition of exceptional three point shooters, will be able to penetrate more.  So this season look for Arenas to do what he does best; silence his critics.

Baron Davis
Let’s be clear, what Clipper fans saw last season was not Baron Davis. Atleast not on the court. Although his documentary was widely successful, Davis’ homecoming on the court was a catastrophe at best, and it may have been doomed from the start. With Elton Brand’s sudden departure, Davis was simultaneously put in place to lead a franchise that for years has had little direction. He was given the unenviable honor of being the face of the franchise, and it didn’t take long for it to turn into an unhappy one. Imagine being able to have the keys to a Ferrari, or in basketball terms, being able to lead the most free flowing and high scoring offense for three consecutive seasons. Imagine playing in front of Jessica Alba and the rocking fans at Oracle Arena. And then juxtapose those exciting thoughts with playing with the Clippers under the constant scrutiny of head coach Mike Dunlevy.
After shooting 37.7 percent from the field last season, one has to agree that the only place his percentage can go is up. This is not to say Davis is ever going to be a marksmen shooter, or that his ability to play effectively through injuries will ever improve. Nevertheless it was just in the 2007-2008 season, when Davis played all 82 games for a winning Warriors team, and lead them in points and assist. A healthy Baron Davis and motivated Baron Davis is still a top ten point guard in this league. And with a year under his belt in a new system, alongside Blake Griffin, Davis should have Clipper nation back on his side by the end of the season.