The 2009-2010 NBA season is barely a month old and already the Washington Wizards are on the verge of imploding. And despite early season reports of Gilbert Arenas reforming his diva ways, he is the root of the problem.
Agent Zero has returned with a vengeance.
One phrase sticks out from a recent, and rare, interview with Arenas. "Hidden agendas." He (wrongly) highlighted the number of potential free agents for next season and said that he has been the only one to adjust his game in his return.
Hold the phone, how has Arenas adjusted his game at all? Is the world supposed to buy into his proclamation of change because of a few games with decent assist numbers?
Through 12 games, Arenas has tallied five games with eight assists or more. On one occasion he gave out 10 assists. He shot worse than 40 percent in four of those games. His adjustment is more of an attempt to compensate for his poor shooting than a genuine shift in playing style.
Arenas is on pace to have the worst shooting percentage of his career with 39 percent. And his proposed solution to the problem, shoot more.
Looking at the first three games of the season, two wins to just one loss, Arenas did seem to look a little different. The difference wasn't immediately apparent on the court but on the stat sheet. He was shooting 50 percent from the field and from beyond the arc.
In the ensuing nine games, Arenas has averaged 35 percent shooting from the field and 33 percent from three-point range.
The lone win over Cleveland during that nine-game stretch featured a 6-for-22 night of shooting for Arenas and just one three-pointer from eight attempts. Antawn Jamison returned that night, and the Cavaliers did not have two of their biggest players in Shaquille O'Neal and Anderson Varejao.
That win came because the Wizards were at full strength for the first time all season and the Cavs were not.
Beyond the poor shooting from the field, Arenas has been awful from the free-throw line. Disregarding the past two seasons where he only saw action in 15 games, Arenas hasn't shot below 80 percent from the line since his first three seasons in the NBA.
He is shooting a career-worst 73.6 percent from the free-throw line this season.
Arenas' play is just the beginning of the problems for the Wizards, but it all starts with him. It was said that the only thing keeping the Wizards from being contenders is health
Now that everyone is healthy, what excuse can be made now?
With 70 games remaining, the Wizards are worlds away from being eliminated from playoff contention. But with Arenas claiming to be one of the only players carrying his share of the load, someone is going to have to step up and lead the Wizards the way he says he is.
He isn't alone in underachieving, but Arenas is the only one blaming everyone else for the Wizards woes in the early going. Welcome back Agent Zero, now make some shots.