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Posted at 10:22 AM ET, 02/16/2011

Gilbert Arenas thinks John Wall needs to be surrounded by more veterans

By Michael Lee

Gilbert Arenas has referred to John Wall as the "White Knight," the clean-slate symbol of hope that the Wizards need to parade out in front of the populace to generate enthusiasm in a moribund franchise. But now that Arenas has moved on to the Orlando Magic, he believes that in order for Wall to be great, the Wizards need to change the environment around him.


You need to run more ... with more veterans ... once you get healthy. (AP Photo)

Arenas suggests that the Wizards should become a more wide open, fast-breaking team to take advantage of Wall's speed and/or ditch their plans to simply build through youth and the draft. He said he felt that way from the first time he realized that the Wizards would select Wall with the No. 1 overall pick last June.

"I seen him at Kentucky and I watched his highlight tapes. I seen a flashy guy and then I looked at our offense and I thought, if you want to see this guy's potential, you've got to speed this thing up," Arenas said. "You can't keep a kid like that in a half court; you've got to have a Phoenix style offense or you've got to, like you did [Rajon] Rondo, you've got to build a veteran team around him and let him learn that way. You can't keep young kids around a player like him. They learn bad habits."

Arenas said Wall is too talented to not have a successful career, but added that his growth could be stunted if he doesn't play with more proven veterans in the early stages. "He's going to always put up numbers. He's going to have his numbers, but you want to know, did he get better from the beginning of the year to the end of the year? And that's how you evaluate him. And then hopefully, [the Wizards make] the right decisions by building with veterans around him, like they did with Rondo, like they did Derrick Rose. You've got to put veterans so he can learn how to play winning basketball. If he stays with all these young guys, they are just going to learn how to lose and be okay with it."

Arenas said he spoke with Wall on Monday and understands how much pressure the rookie feels, but thinks that he might be best served by letting his various knee and foot ailments fully heal, rather than keep pushing through the pain.

"He does have a lot of pressure on him. He does have more than probably a lot of first round picks," Arenas said. "He has that nagging injury and any other franchise would sit him down so he can get healthy, but with the pressure, he's not going to let himself sit and play and play and play and hopefully it doesn't get worse. But that's the pressure that a number one pick has. He has to rebuild, bring this franchise back to stardom."

By Michael Lee  | February 16, 2011; 10:22 AM ET
 
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Next: Jump ball: Does Arenas have a point?

Comments

Blatche is a proven veteran. What's wrong with his leadership?

Posted by: prescrunk | February 16, 2011 10:51 AM | Report abuse

Prescrunk I hope you are joking!!


Wall has Kirk and Sam. It's our big men that need more of a veteran presence around them.

Posted by: MaxnDC | February 16, 2011 11:06 AM | Report abuse

Hey Gil, who says you know how to play "winning basketball"?

Posted by: divi3 | February 16, 2011 11:12 AM | Report abuse

And we give a rat's honey about what Arenas thinks of the Bullets because? Where is Jerry Sloan when you need him? Bring him here for a few seasons and see what he and our new owner can do together!

Posted by: KDSmallJr | February 16, 2011 11:15 AM | Report abuse

The worst thing about trading Arenas to a division rival is that we get twice as many stupid stories about him.

Posted by: djnnnou | February 16, 2011 11:22 AM | Report abuse

You know what Gilbert says stikes me as kind of what I was thinking. My idea of rebuilding does not square with most of the board. I think that mostly teams that go on a 3-5 year plans are always on one and never win anything.

But the other part of what Gilbert says is interesting and squares with my evaluation of the Wizards. With Wall they should be a running Team, but they are not and Wall's speed isn't really being taken advantage of. It also squares with the criticism that Young gets for being a black hole and the team as well.

It is a halfcourt shooting offense and it is the way Flip has designed it. If you push the ball like running teams, Atlanta, New York, OK, you have to pass more to do it.

LarryInClintonMD.

Posted by: LarryInClintonMD | February 16, 2011 11:25 AM | Report abuse

What Gilbert also said is an indictment on Flip's system and whether his system is the right fit for John Wall.

In spite of what Flip might say about fastbreaks and pushing the ball, his system is not a fastbreaking open court one. It is a jumpshooting halfcourt one. Not the type of system that John Wall will flourish in.

But hey, I know, in 3-5 years after the the rebuild is complete and we have all right players, we will be winners then.

Yeah, Right! The Best Laid Plans Of Mice and Men.

LarryInClintonMD.

Posted by: LarryInClintonMD | February 16, 2011 11:43 AM | Report abuse

Arenas's opinions are really not interesting at all. He's just a benchwarmer on Dwight Howard's team. He never played on a championship caliber team as a primary contributer. He was a veteran presence for Nick Young and Andray Blatche, but certainly has no claim to have been a positive lasting influence on either of those guys. He managed to set the current Wizards franchise back several years due to a hodgepodge of stupidity and misfortune.

Gil should stick to the comedy act when he opens his mouth.

Posted by: jon_quest | February 16, 2011 11:47 AM | Report abuse

But hey, I know, who is going to listen to anything with an objective ear for anything that Gilbert has to say rounds here?

Posted by: LarryInClintonMD | February 16, 2011 11:49 AM | Report abuse

I does not hurt to have some veterans in the team.Arenas opinion is fine but can some one tell him that JW will not learn any more bad habits since he is gone.I do not think he has to be reminded about his locker room issue.

Posted by: gtefferra | February 16, 2011 11:56 AM | Report abuse

Arenas talking out both sides of his mouth is not at all surprising.

First, no veteran talent is just going to willingly come to this franchise at the moment. The Wiz have to rebuild through the draft.

Second, this roster can't play at such a pace. JM has asthma, AB looked pregnant at the beginning of the season, and there are not enough shooters or slashers on this roster. Not to mention dependable rebounding to get it all started. In theory, it sounds like the right idea to run run run with Wall. But, until you get the right players to run with him it won't work.

Besides, when was the last time a fast-break team won the championship? - Showtime Lakers of the 80's with 4 HOF players on the roster. Pheonix has never won anything of consequence and neither has NY.

Posted by: rphilli721 | February 16, 2011 12:09 PM | Report abuse

funny how Gil's immature, jokester,devil may care attitude meshed well with MR.Professional AJ, and CB another brother known for keeping it professional. He also had ET, and AD around him . I dunno why some of yall just wanna take shots at Gil for nothing. He wouldn't be talking about us if MIKE LEE wasn't dangling a mic in front of his face, or doing a story on him every day the entire week preceding the game. This isn't Gil writing op ed pieces for the post entitled "Successful Basketball: A Goofball's Guide". He answering the questions Lee is asking. Watch the video.

Posted by: lilhollywood10 | February 16, 2011 12:09 PM | Report abuse

Arenas is a clown. Barkley had him pegged from the beginning when he basically called out Arenas for having no leadership skills and this was during his "hibatchi" days.

Arenas' comments aren't an indictment on anything. He is a washed up wanna be star, who always had the leadership skills of a 5th grader. He is all blather....

I railed against his max contract in here for that exact reason. Well, the knee issues didn't help, but you don't pay max money to a player that doesn't have the full package (intangibles). Otherwise, you get a guy who is not going to be able to take you where you want to go and you are married to him for 6/7 years and are stuck. Exactly what happened.

Posted by: rphilli721 | February 16, 2011 12:18 PM | Report abuse

Winning basketball for Wall is becoming an elite defender. He should get to the point you can comfortably put him on Dwayne Wade or CP3. That's the only way he'll be able to separate himself from the current crop of young, super-talented PGs in the league- and that's assuming Rondo never gets a J.

Posted by: divi3 | February 16, 2011 12:22 PM | Report abuse

@wood,

Are you kidding me? Meshed well? Where were you last year? On another planet? The biggest reason the season fell apart was dissension between primarily Butler and Arenas, but, also Haywood and Arenas. They couldn't stand each other anymore. Certainly not on the basketball court. Good lord - you couldn't be more wrong.

And, I am pretty sure he would be talking about us even if a microphone is not dangled in front of him. That being said, I don't care that he talks, it's just that he says unprofessional goofball things every time he does, which is probably why there are always microphones dangling in front of him. Get the process?

Posted by: rphilli721 | February 16, 2011 12:28 PM | Report abuse

I somewhat agree with Gil. I think this team needs a few more veterans, but I think it should be mixed similar to how the Spurs have done it. You definitely need some guys in there that know how to win, but you don't want to have your team full of guys past their prime or nearing it. I think it also would make sense to run more. Flip actually said that's what he was going to do but he has failed at that. This team would be more dangerous if they ran the fast break a bit more.

Posted by: meatkins | February 16, 2011 12:32 PM | Report abuse

Isn't this the same Gilbert who was so inpatient with the young Wizards? He thinks they need veterans, but as I recall he didn't want to be one of them.

Posted by: BPupp | February 16, 2011 12:38 PM | Report abuse

I think Wall can do a pretty good job of "seperating" himself with speed alone. He has to get a little stronger and improve his J, but those improvements will allow his speed to dominate games. He doesn't have to become so good defensively that he can guard the best SG in the NBA although more power to him if he gets there.

Posted by: rphilli721 | February 16, 2011 12:39 PM | Report abuse

@Meatkins,

You just don't magically start running the fast break by declaring it. There are elements that need to be in place for it to be successful and this team doesn't have them yet - slashers, shooters, rebounders, etc..

Posted by: rphilli721 | February 16, 2011 12:44 PM | Report abuse

Professeur Agent Zero.

Posted by: skins_fan_22 | February 16, 2011 12:49 PM | Report abuse

Anyone that says we haven't had a fastbreaking team win it all since Showtime is pushing the envelope a bit. The Spurs are one of the best fastbreaking teams in the business as well as being great from the set.

The Boston Celtics also are an extremely efficient fastbreaking Team.

I always find it ironic how some like to say fastbreaks teams don't win anything. Well maybe, yes, if they only fastbreak and can't do anythingelse, like play defense and know when to slow it down. Championships comes when teams put it all together, like Orlando almost did, and yes fastbreaking was a part of it.

When I talk about a fastbreaking team, it doesn't mean that is all they do. It means that they use fastbreaking as a part of their strategy and use it well.

The Wizards are hell bent on running Flip's system as a primary focus and if a break pops up evernowandthen, thats fine with Flip. That dog won't hunt.

Fastbreaking is crucial to any championship team. It is crucial. It is called transition from one end of the court to the other. And there are times when you have to do it quickly and be damn good at it whilst you're doing it.

No fastbreak team has won anything since Showtime. Look again.

Even the Detroit Pistons under Brown was very good with the break. It is one reason why Ben Wallace became so effective. The UpTemPo sytle that Brown employed with the set allowed Wallace to play in space and be effective.

LarryInClintonMD.

Posted by: LarryInClintonMD | February 16, 2011 12:51 PM | Report abuse

Larry in Clinton - echoed those feelings when I expressed them months ago. I said if you let the Wizards run there would be few teams that could keep up with them. Instead we have tried just about every way to lose games. And yes, a team can get addicted to losing. Look at the Clippers, Nets, Wizards etc..from the past. Teams with some players and no attitude. Booker, Wall, Arenas, McGee and an in shape Blatche, could run, and Hinrich, Young, Thornton, Yi, heck, I just had a senior moment on the backup center. Anyway we could have run all night long. Oh yeah back up center, Armstrong. Instead we had three guards and a baby poop soft PF and a variety of hurt individuals trying to get better while playing and getting hurt more. prescrunk had to be joking, otherwise I would prescribe a lobotomy. And yes if Arenas is commenting on the way the team plays, he is critiquing the coaching also. Saunders is inadequate for this team. The team is dysfunctional and the coach needs to go. I am thankful that it is halfway through February and we have at least won our first road game. It could have been worse. Nice record Flip!

Posted by: 1bmffwb | February 16, 2011 12:59 PM | Report abuse

@rphilli

When looking at Westbrook, Rose, CP3, DWill, it's hard to imagine how Wall could ever be substantially better on the offensive end than those guys. Is he going to avg 25/15? Even if he is arguably better than any one of them, it's still not so much better as to be the 'generational' player some people think he'll be.

If gets to where his offense is on par with those guys and his defense is Rondo-like...then he'll be truly special. But even if he never quite gets there, we'll still have a top5 PG

Posted by: divi3 | February 16, 2011 12:59 PM | Report abuse

Fastbreaking is as much to NBA tradition and championships as apples is to apple pie.

The teams that use it and use it well along with everythingelse get it. Flip doesn't get it. Some say we don't have the right players. Well, how long have we been saying that and how long will we keep saying that?

Put the system in and and players will come. You aren't going to sign up any vets/FA players to Flip's system.

You have to be teaching and building the formula for success now, not when the right players show up. Please people.

LarryInClintonMD.

Posted by: LarryInClintonMD | February 16, 2011 1:08 PM | Report abuse

Thanks coach Gil. We'll take that into consideration.

What an as*.

Posted by: BrownBagIt | February 16, 2011 1:14 PM | Report abuse

@rphilli721

They have enough to run if they wanted to. JaVale McGee is one of the best fast breaking big men in the league. Unfortunately that same factor causes him to be a mediocre rebounder too, but with the right combination of players you can easily run. A lineup of McGee-Booker-Howard-Young-Wall would easily be able to run. There aren't ideal players for fast breaks, it usually comes down to execution. You can be a slow team but if you have some type of advantage, your passing in that situation can get you some points. With the Wizards they have a lot of speed so it is an added advantage. If they weren't capable the point would have never been brought up by Flip.

Posted by: meatkins | February 16, 2011 1:14 PM | Report abuse

@wood,

Are you kidding me? Meshed well? Where were you last year? On another planet? The biggest reason the season fell apart was dissension between primarily Butler and Arenas, but, also Haywood and Arenas.

Posted by: rphilli721 | February 16, 2011 12:28 PM | Report abuse

yeah cuz last season was the first time the ever played together. You are silly.

Posted by: lilhollywood10 | February 16, 2011 2:12 PM | Report abuse

You Arenas haters get a life. I think he is right. Just because someone has done some bad things doesn't mean that they don't know what they are talking about. It is a good idea to get some more veterans on the team. When babies are born there are the adults there to train them in the way that they should go. Stop hating!

Posted by: paulaburto3 | February 16, 2011 2:16 PM | Report abuse

Larry,
What you say about NBA teams and running is nothing more than stating the obvious. The celtics aren't a running team, they're primarily a half court team. They run just like ANYONE ELSE when the opportunity is given. Running teams are the PHX Suns, GS Warriors, Knicks and so on. The Spurs this year are more of a running team than usual but i wouldn't classify them as a running team. Fast break teams don't win championships.
The celtics play stingy defense and run if they can but usually set it up half court and get Ray off screens, let paul iso at at the elbow for his sweet spot, pick and roll with KG for his jumper. All half court. Looks a lot like our offense sometimes but obviously without the caliber of players.

Posted by: Wizbullets88 | February 16, 2011 2:31 PM | Report abuse

Wizbullets88,

Would there be a difference between a running team and one that fastbreaks? And whats the difference between a halfcourt team and one that isn't?

It's been said by more folks more knowledgeable than me that it is harder for a halfcourt team to run than it is for an running team to play halfcourt.

And pray tell, what NBA Championship has ever been won by any team that wasn't adepth at fastbreaking? Name one?

LarryInClintonMD.

Posted by: LarryInClintonMD | February 16, 2011 3:03 PM | Report abuse

"You just don't magically start running the fast break by declaring it. There are elements that need to be in place for it to be successful and this team doesn't have them yet - slashers, shooters, rebounders, etc.."

Posted by: rphilli721 | February 16, 2011 12:44 PM

Bingo.

Posted by: kalo_rama | February 16, 2011 3:24 PM | Report abuse

"It's been said by more folks more knowledgeable than me that it is harder for a halfcourt team to run than it is for an running team to play halfcourt."

Whoever said that had no idea what they were talking about. Not only is that not true, it's almost the exact opposite of the truth. (Of course, the fact that they said something dead wrong that makes little sense does nothing to refute your point about them being more knowledgeable than you.)

"And pray tell, what NBA Championship has ever been won by any team that wasn't adepth at fastbreaking? Name one?"

Posted by: LarryInClintonMD | February 16, 2011 3:03 PM

There's a clear and obvious difference between being "adept" at fastbreaking and being primarily dependent on it. Pretty much every team in the NBA runs the break when it's available. But what's pretty clearly being talked about here is going to an offense specifically designed to create fastbreak opportunities. The Wizards don't have the personnel for that and, as the Phoenix Suns have repeatedly proven (as did the Kings and Trailblazers before them), such an offense doesn't get it done in the highest levels of the playoffs (not that that's really a consideration for the Wiz at this point).

Posted by: kalo_rama | February 16, 2011 3:34 PM | Report abuse

"It's been said by more folks more knowledgeable than me that it is harder for a halfcourt team to run than it is for an running team to play halfcourt."

Whoever said that had no idea what they were talking about. Not only is that not true, it's almost the exact opposite of the truth. (Of course, the fact that they said something dead wrong that makes little sense does nothing to refute your point about them being more knowledgeable than you.)

"And pray tell, what NBA Championship has ever been won by any team that wasn't adepth at fastbreaking? Name one?"

Posted by: LarryInClintonMD | February 16, 2011 3:03 PM

There's a clear and obvious difference between being "adept" at fastbreaking and being primarily dependent on it. Pretty much every team in the NBA runs the break when it's available. But what's pretty clearly being talked about here is going to an offense specifically designed to create fastbreak opportunities. The Wizards don't have the personnel for that and, as the Phoenix Suns have repeatedly proven (as did the Kings and Trailblazers before them), such an offense doesn't get it done in the highest levels of the playoffs (not that that's really a consideration for the Wiz at this point).

Posted by: kalo_rama | February 16, 2011 3:36 PM | Report abuse

As far as Arenas goes, the substance of what he says has merit. Given the still rawness of Wall's skills and shooting and his in-progress adjustment to the NBA, an uptempo attack offense and more prime-time veteran support probably would help ease his burden. But the simple fact is that the Wiz don't have the pieces to implement those changes.

Posted by: kalo_rama | February 16, 2011 3:58 PM | Report abuse

Although I find it quite difficult to use the terms "NBA Championship" and "Wizards" in the same sentence, I think a transition fast-breaking offense is better suited to our team. Our goal is to build a winning team. Championships are somewhat off in the future!

We have a deficit of physical bigs. Neither Yi, nor McGee, nor Blatche, nor Armstrong can hold their own in the paint. Our half court offense is limited to passing the ball around the perimeter and settling for a mid-range jumper, 3-pointers or the occasional drive to the hoop. A very predictable offensive system with very predictable results = losses.

A fastbreaking offense gives you the chance to put the defense on its heels. Earlier this season, Wall was hooking up with JaVale for alley-oop buckets. Why not use Wall's speed and passing skills to set up Young, Thornton, Howard AND our bigs for easier scoring opportunities? Wall can't continue going coast-to-coast at breakneck speed. If he continues with that style of play, the injuries will catch up with him and he will never develop into his full potential. Don't hate Gil for speaking truthfully.

Posted by: musicmanjr | February 16, 2011 5:08 PM | Report abuse

It takes more than a bunch of guys who can run fast and jump high to efficiently operate an uptempo offense. In order to run, a team needs to be able to force miss shots, rebound the ball, and make good decisions on the fly in the open court, three things this team is not especially adept at doing.

Posted by: kalo_rama | February 16, 2011 5:21 PM | Report abuse

Gilbert is right. It's really that simple. Unless you think Wall is learning valuable lessons from Blatche, McGee and Young. Hinrich, Lewis and Howard can help but I don't believe any of those guys are here for the long term.

Posted by: tundey | February 16, 2011 8:49 PM | Report abuse

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