HANG TIME HEADQUARTERS — Sixty-one seconds of wobbly footage (sorry, it’s all we could dig up) is hardly enough time to examine the fit in Washington.
And by the fit, we obviously mean how Gilbert Arenas and rookie point guard John Wall can work together in the backcourt for the Wizards this season. The great debate began long before the Wizards actually drafted Wall with the No. 1 overall pick in the June draft.
Everyone has an opinion about if it can and how it might work:
We’re going on record here at the hideout as wanting to see how these guys work together. There’s no need to trade Arenas yet, not before we see him in action with Wall as his wingman. (Despite this notion that this is now Wall’s team, we’re not buying it. Arenas is still the alpha dog.)
Arenas is still one of the most ruthless scorers of his generation. And from all indications, he’s spent his time away from the spotlight tightening every facet of his game in anticipation of a monster comeback season.
Having Kirk Hinrich around as insurance also helps ease any tensions that might exist between Arenas and Wall, while also providing the Wizards with a living example of a veteran guard that understands when and how to defer to a younger teammate with loads of talent and potential.
That said, there are folks much closer to the situation that think this pairing could actually work, albeit with Wall “running the show” and Arenas as his wing man.
My main man Michael Lee of the Washington Post explains:
With Wall running the show, Arenas will be freed from the burden of balancing making decisions for the team and going for his. Now, Arenas can simply focus on scoring, which plays more into his natural instincts. With Arenas moving to shooting guard, he also won’t have to worry about defending the quicker point guards in the league, ones like Tyreke Evans, who gave him so much trouble last season. Yes, the 6-foot-4 Arenas will have to contend with shooting guards who are much taller and stronger, but those bigger guards will also have to deal with him on the other end.
[Flip] Saunders implemented a two-guard offense near the end of last season, and while he will use some of those plays, the plan is for Arenas to routinely spell Wall from ball-handing duties, especially if there comes a time when Wall gets overwhelmed. And, with a rookie point guard trying to handle Saunders’s complicated offense and pressure from opposing teams looking to fluster him, you can bank on that happening a few times.
Arenas will be the highest paid player on the Wizards for the next four seasons, unless some team decides to take a chance on him in the interim, so he remains an important figure whose performance and behavior will always be heavily scrutinized. But as one team insider told me, Arenas doesn’t have the “juice” he once had, having exhausted his good favor within the organization with that locker room incident.
There is the potential that Arenas will grow frustrated with a somewhat marginalized role. The team has several new pieces, but some of the holdovers are used to deferring to the veteran Arenas.
His fourth comeback will be underway in two weeks, but since the Wizards’ fortunes no longer reside in Arenas’s ability to play at an elite level, success will be measured mostly in his ability to conform. That still is a lot to expect of him.
In a sea of training camp questions from around the league, sorting out the Arenas-Wall situation looms as one of the most intriguing. Never mind that the expectations for this Wizards team are as low as they’ve been in years and they’re playing in arguably the most rugged division (Southeast) in the league this year.
This is a turning point season for the franchise, now that Ted Leonsis is in control and the Wizards are starting basically from scratch. This Arenas-Wall chemistry experiment either works like magic and the Wizards take a turn for the better or it blows up and Arenas has to go.
Either way, it is must-see drama, especially during training camp, for all of us.