The Washington Wizards are on the wrong end of .500 this season at 7-12 and there is a wide range of reasons why. Caron Butler isn't making shots, Antawn Jamison is barely hitting his stride and most of all, Gilbert Arenas isn't scoring.
But he'll tell you he's just changed his game.
Since his return from three knee surgeries over the last two and a half years, Arenas has underwhelmed on the court. His scoring average. shooting percentage, and rebound average are all down.
Arenas does boast an improved assists game to compensate for his inability to hit his own shots.
Arenas made no secret of his issues with the team following a couple of tough losses this season. He called out Butler for not knocking down shots, which directly affect Arenas' assist numbers.
Arenas has made an effort to become a passing point guard in Flip Saunders' offense and in the wake of his injury history. He identified that he isn't playing the same game he was from 2005-2007.
Over those two season, Arenas was averaging 28.9 points, six assists, four rebounds, and 1.9 steals per game. He was shooting 43.3 percent from the field, 36 percent from three-point range and 83.2 percent from the free throw line.
The Wizards reached the playoffs for both the 2005-2006 and 2006-2007 seasons, but Arenas was only active for the 2005-2006 series. He suffered his injury prior to the start of the 2006-2007 playoffs, which the Wizards lost in the first round.
Since his injury, the Wizards had to ride on the strong performances of Butler and Jamison until Agent Zero was healthy enough to play again.
The Wizards reached the playoffs without Arenas in 2007-2008, but lost in six to Cleveland.
This season, Arenas has done more passing than ever before in his career. Chalk it up to an effect of having been shelved for the better part of the last three years or to a genuine shift in focus for him, but it isn't panning out the way he had hoped.
He has totaled eight assists or more in ten games this season, and is averaging 7.6 assists over his last five games.
In the recent lost to Boston, the Wizards were defeated by just two points after a solid performance against the 2007-08 champions. Arenas dished out eight assists, grabbed three rebounds and scored 25 points while shooting 47 percent from the field.
Randy Foye and Butler were a combined 6-for-20, Nick Young was 1-for-5, and DeShawn Stevenson was 1-for-4. Perhaps there is something to Arenas calling out his teammates. He said it himself that he felt like he was going to have to just put the team on his back if they can't pick up the slack over the rest of the season.
Of course, the Wizards could have won the game if Arenas had hit on more than just one of his six free throw attempts.
Maybe that is putting too much pressure on Arenas. He is playing in just his 39th game in three years.
Regardless of injury, though, Arenas is the "superstar" of the Wizards and should be able to handle the pressure of carrying the team when it most needs it. The Wizards have lost three straight and have yet to put together a complete game in any win or loss
Arenas is the face of the franchise and as such should be able to take just as much credit for the losses he does the wins. But when he is just barely holding up his end of the bargain, there is very little that can be said about his teammates.
It shouldn't fall squarely on Arenas to guide the Wizards to victory night in and night out, but he can't expect to evade all of the blame that this team deserves for the poor start it has stumbled to in the early months of a long NBA season.