Today I wrote about how having Gilbert Arenas on the floor opens things up for Antawn Jamison, Caron Butler and the rest of the Wizards. And today after practice, Flip Saunders reflected more on Arenas’ play on Tuesday. While he loves having 10 assists from his franchise point guard, Saunders said he expects and needs Arenas to attack more in order for the Wizards to succeed in his system.
“He’s got to be aggressive offensively,” Saunders said. “The way my offense is initiated and the point guards that I’ve had, they all have high assists, but they’re all been scorers. Usually they’re either first or second in scoring because they gear everything. And if you’re point guard is not aggressive as a scorer, if that option is not an aggressive option, then it’s too easy to guard the other guys.”
Saunders said for now Arenas is trying to feel his way along and make sure he has a full understanding of the system and everyone’s roles, but that the guard will soon begin looking for his own shot as well. Now, how much Arenas will score — 27 or 20 points — that remains to be seen, but given all the Wizards’ weapons, they don’t really need 30 points a night from Arenas if they have 20 and 10 from him while he sets up six other double-digit scorers.
Saunders said that when the Mavericks come to town tomorrow night he plans on starting DeShawn Stevenson at shooting guard to do some more experiementing with another candidate. Stevenson played 18 minutes on Tuesday with much of those minutes coming with Arenas, Jamison, Butler and Haywood. He had three points on 1-for-3 shooting and two assists and two steals.
“We’ll just mix up the two,” Saunders said. “Different matchup, see how they play. And we’ll let Nick go chase Jason Terry around a bit.”
Other practice tid-bits: When walking into the Wizards’ practice gym here at Verizon Center I was quickly hit with a few sights I’m not used to seeing.
For one, the court was rather crowded as 16 guys were out on the court, doing sprints, taking foul shots. It was a much different look than what we saw much of last season, especially late in the year when only eight or nine guys were practicing.
The second thing was the new decor inside the room. The Wizards now have a banner hanging from the 1977-78 Bullets championship season on one wall, and also banners honoring Bullets greats and their retired numbers Wes Unseld, No. 41, Earl Monroe, No. 10, Elvin Hayes, No. 11, and Gus Johnson, 25.
And across the fourth wall are Fatheads of the current Wizards players. Well, that’s the plan anyway. The Fatheads of Gilbert Arenas, Nick Young, DeShawn Stevenson, Randy Foye, Caron Butler, Mike Miller and Brendan Haywood are still hanging from the wall. The Fatheads of Antawn Jamison, Andray Blatche, Mike James, JaVale McGee, Dominic McGuire, Fabricio Oberto and Javaris Crittenton were put up at one point, but have fallen off. The Fatheads weren’t designed to stick to cinder blocks, so the Wizards are working on finding a better adhesive so they don’t have to keep putting Fatheads up all season.
On the Fatheads, Butler said, “That’s hot ain’t it?”
Blatche: “It’s a nice change and new scenery. It’s always nice to have a change.”
Blatche also said the championship banner and retired jerseys are motivators to work harder. But not everyone was impressed.
Haywood said, “I don’t pay attention to that. All I pay attention to is the goals that are 10 feet high.” On the championship banner: “I don’t really care. As long as you’ve got two hoops, I don’t really care what it looks like.”