Flip Saunders just wrapped up his preseason press conference and during it tackled everything from Gilbert Arenas and his relationship and expectations for his star point guard; his observations from year ago when he was a guest invite at training camp and the changes that have taken place since; the starting shooting guard battle; and his expectations for the season.
Saunders said he can’t wait to get to work in Richmond next week, because while he’s been able to monitor the progress of some of his players and has spoken to most of them often, the real work doesn’t begin until they hit VCU’s campus next Monday.
“I’m excited because I’ve never had the weapons that I have on this team,” Saunders said, referring to this Wizards team, which features three All-Stars and a deep supporting cast.
Flip said this summer he has spoken with Arenas on a daily basis, which he deems as key to developing a good relationship with Gil. The way Flip sees it, a strong relationship with his point guard is vital because he expects his point guards to think like him and be an extension of him on the floor. He said Arenas is taking strides toward understanding what is expected of him and what role he will play on the team.
“I think he’s understanding. He understands that he’s going to have the ball in his hands a lot of the time and he’s going to have to make decisions, he’s going to have to understand matchup situations. He’s going to understand a lot more next week. Our situation at training camp is a lot like classroom type of setting. So, not only will he have the learning, but also the comeback. He’s been playing alot this summer, but this will be in a structured type of situation where he’ll be challenging himself physically and mentally.”
Flip said he expects shooting guard to be a battle, but said he’s looking for the starter to be multi-dimensional, a strong perimeter defender and able to knock down open shots while opposing teams are focused on Arenas, Jamison and Butler.
Saunders spoke about the strong summer Nick Young had, and how he’s learning to focus more on defense, but I still have my money on either DeShawn Stevenson or Mike Miller at shooting guard. If Stevenson is back to full strength, him as that defensive stopper. Miller gives the team length and that perimeter attack.
One thing Saunders did rule out was Arenas playing any shooting guard this season. He said Gil will play “strictly as a 1. No question, he’s a true 1.” He recalled fielding similar questions about Chauncey Billups, but said without a doubt, like Billups, Arenas is more effective with the ball in his hands and just has to “maintain his aggressiveness as a [point guard] and let the other players play off him.”
That’s it in a nutshell. More coming later ….