There are only so many ways to say that Gilbert Arenas has not lived up to expectations since his arrival in Orlando. The mid-December deal for Arenas gave Magic fans a reason to be excited because it allowed them to export the expiring contract of a deteriorating Rashard Lewis in exchange for a sizzling hibachi in Arenas.
However, after the dust from the deal had settled, it became apparent to Magic fans that the Arenas they had acquired is years removed from his glory days in Washington when he was adorned as the face of the Wizards franchise.
Since his arrival in Orlando, Arenas has averaged a lackluster eight points per game, which in itself is a far cry from the 28.4 points per contest that he averaged five seasons ago for the Wizards and is still a few good country miles away from the 17.3 points per game that he averaged in Washington this season prior to being traded.
Before coming to Orlando Arenas had racked up eight games in which he scored twenty or more points, including a season-best 31-point game against his new team, the Magic, on November 27. Since putting on a Magic uniform Arenas has only eclipsed the twenty point mark once, which came against the abysmal Cavaliers of Cleveland.
It has become more apparent that Arenas has struggled to find his niche in Orlando. Arenas, once a starter for the Wizards, has taken a backseat since being traded and now enters the game off the bench as a substitute for Jameer Nelson or Jason Richardson. Consequently, Arenas averages almost fifteen fewer minutes per game playing for the Magic than he did playing for the Wizards earlier this season, and his numbers have taken a heavy blow as a result.
Along with experiencing a reduced role in Orlando, it appears that Arenas' quality of play has decreased as well. Of course some of that can be attributed to his ailing knees, which once allowed him to be an elusive and explosive weapon for the Wizards, but now only appear to disarm him, forcing him to wear braces and padding, while also slowing him down.
Not explained by his faulty knees, however, are his fallen shooting percentages since being traded. Arenas, whose field goal percentage was once 39.4 percent, is now shooting only 34.5 percent and his three point percentages have dipped from 32.4 percent to 25.6 percent since joining the Magic.
With all of this said, do Magic fans have any hope of seeing Gilbert Arenas as a productive force on their team?
Sure, and Arenas has even proven so in a few minor instances since arriving in Orlando. I will argue that because of his reduced role he will probably never see the high volume of minutes or put up gaudy numbers for the Magic, but I do believe that he can make an impact by being a solid role player for his new club coming into games off of the bench. For instance, last night against the Miami Heat Arenas proved that he can have an impact on his team without scoring a ton of points. In just 16 minutes of play Arenas recorded 11 points, including two huge three-pointers that allowed the Magic to crawl back into the game and ultimately steal a victory on their division rivals' home floor.
Though Arenas was not a scoring leader, his performance was both solid and pivotal to his team's success. It is in small moments like this that Arenas can thrive as a member of the Magic. He is no longer the star and therefore we cannot expect him to perform like one, but Arenas still has the potential to be the spark on this Orlando Magic team, just in much smaller ways.