Though shooting just 36.5 percent from the field since the Orlando Magic traded for him a little over two weeks ago, combo guard Gilbert Arenas is has nonetheless made a positive impact on the team thanks to his playmaking. In seven games clad in Magic pinstripes, the nine-year veteran has averaged 5.8 assists. Coach Stan Van Gundy noted his new guard's ability to involve teammates following the Magic's practice on New Year's Eve:
"Gil's done a lot of good things for us, but probably the biggest thing he's brought is his passing," Van Gundy said. "[...] Our passing has just picked up, and Gil's been a huge part of that. He can really see the floor. If he can cut down on some of the careless passes and the turnovers--his turnovers are high--I think guys like playing with him because they're getting the ball and getting good shots."
And indeed Arenas' new teammates have thrived off his passes. They're shooting 15-of-20 from the floor off his passes to them in pick-and-roll situations, according to Synergy Sports Technology. That figure isn't sustainable, but it does show Arenas' remarkable skill in running the Magic's bread-and-butter play.
While it'd be foolish to attribute the Magic's improved passing solely to Arenas, since he, Jason Richardson, Hedo Turkoglu, and Earl Clark arrived in separate trades December 18th, the team has tallied assists on 60.9 percent of its baskets. Prior to the trades, that figure was only 51.7 percent. In the three seasons prior to this one combined, all under Van Gundy, assists accounted for 54.6 percent of the Magic's field goals.
The team has also performed dramatically better with him on the court as opposed to off it in these last seven games, during which the team has compiled a 5-2 record. Orlando has outscored its competition by 66 points in Arenas' 170 minutes of playing time, while its competition owns a 22-point edge in the 166 minutes Arenas has spent on the bench over the same span.
The Magic have 49 games remaining in their season to see how everything develops. As John Schuhmann of NBA.com notes, though Orlando has gotten off to a strong start with its revamped roster, it has room for improvement, particularly with regard to the starting lineup. If Van Gundy can get his players on the same page, Orlando indeed has the potential to charge hard in the East as the season wears on.