Gilbert Arenas: Disgraced Star To Lead Washington Wizards to Playoffs?
The 2009-10 NBA season was a nightmare for Gilbert Arenas.
His team, the Washington Wizards, started the season poorly, losing 21 out of 32 games with the thee-time All-Star.
However, that was not what truly ruined the year for Arenas.
During card games played on flights during road trips, Gil and teammate Javaris Crittenton became involved in a dispute regarding a gambling debt.
But this issue was never cleanly resolved.
What occurred next is rather unclear, for various accounts have come to light, ranging from Arenas drawing and cocking his pistol, only to have Crittenton do the same, to stories that Arenas simply left his unloaded weapon out for Crittenton to see, as a reminder of the gambling dispute.
Nevertheless, whatever took place was illegal, as neither of the players had licenses to carry their guns.
As a result, the pair were suspended for the remainder of the season and the Wizards finished with a dismal 26-56 record.
Furthermore, the disgraced athletes faced serious legal ramifications, albeit neither had to serve any jail time.
Since then, Crittenton is no longer with the team, and neither are former All-Stars Caron Butler and Antawn Jamison (both traded during 2009-10)
Yet the former Agent Zero (since he is changing his number) isn't letting anything stop him from moving forward.
A report by the Washington Post described how Arenas has been spending his offseason.
Apparently, the 6'4", 215 lb guard has been busy working out in Chicago, attempting to get healthy and even participating in pick-up games with the likes of Chris Paul and Wizards rookie Trevor Booker.
Washington owner, Ted Leonsis, described witnessing one such event, stating, "Gilbert looked trim, fit, and explosive. His shot was sweet and he did one left handed dunk that was something to see. It had everyone talking."
Additionally, Arenas met with John Wall, the Wizards' No. 1 overall pick from Kentucky, shortly after the 2010 NBA draft, discussing basketball among other things.
Wall (19) left the conversation with a very positive outlook, professing that, "I can't wait to get on the court with him and get it going." He continued by predicting that they would work well together, declaring, "I feel like you got two guys who can attack the basket and also Gilbert can stretch the defense, it helps out a lot."
So if Gil is able to return to the level at which he performed in 2006-07 (he has only played in 37 games during the past three seasons due to injuries and suspension), the coupling of him and the All-American Wall should make for a dynamic duo.
Moreover, the offseason addition of veteran guard Kirk Hinrich in a draft-night deal further shored up the already-impressive Washington backcourt..
And although their guards may appear to be the strength of this squad, the remainder of the roster is nothing to scoff at either.
The team is also relatively solid at wing with young high-flyer Nick Young and newly re-signed, one-time All-Star Josh Howard.
Furthermore, in the frontcourt the Wizards have one of the best combination of youth and talent in the league.
They will likely use a rotation consisting of JaVale McGee (22), Andray Blatche (24), Al Thornton (26), Yi Jianlian (22), Hilton Armstrong (25), and maybe even their two non-Wall first round picks, Clemson standout Trevor Booker (22) and Frenchman Kevin Seraphin (20).
McGee and Blatche are obviously the headliners here, as they both put up some nice numbers and gained valuable experience during the tedious end of the '09-'10 season.
Both are young men with loads of potential, and their individual successes last year led them to gain league-wide recognition, as both became hot acquisitions in fantasy basketball down the stretch, and McGee was invited to try out for Team USA at the 2010 FIBA World Championships (although he was ultimately cut).
The other frontcourt name which has been in the news is Jianlian, who is currently leading the Yao-less team China through FIBA World Championships and showing flashes of being the do-it-all type of player who the Milwaukee Bucks thought that they were drafting as the sixth pick in 2007.
Furthermore, in a move which would completely solidify their front court, as well as their entire roster, there have even been rumors of Washington contacting the Denver Nuggets regarding a potential, although highly unlikely, trade for Carmelo Anthony.
Yet even without Anthony, the young Wizards' roster will look to develop and impress in the 2010-11 NBA season.
But will that be enough to earn a playoff spot?
After these teams would be the Bucks, who played well late last season, and would probably be expected to make the playoffs in 2010-11 as well.
So that would leave two open slots in the Eastern Conference—and Washington would certainly be in that race.
That doesn't sound too bad for the Wizards.
Should their young guns grow to succeed sooner, rather than later, Arenas' return to an elite level could be the final piece to the playoff puzzle.
And who knows? The Wizards could turn into this year's version of the 2009-10 Oklahoma City Thunder—a young, talented team which exceeded expectations, made the playoffs, and almost knocked off the eventual champion LA Lakers.
The sky is the limit for the young Wizards, and with his troubles in the past and his focus on basketball, Gilbert Arenas is now set to safely aim high in 2010-11.
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