None of the players the Orlando Magic acquired on December 18th have as high a profile as Gilbert Arenas, yet none has disappointed more since joining the team. Following last night's 1-of-4 shooting performance against the Philadelphia 76ers, in which he played a team-low 13 minutes, Arenas' field-goal shooting with Orlando stands at an icy 35.6 percent. But the low success rate hasn't deterred Arenas from shooting once every 2.4 minutes.
Arenas appeared to have turned a corner three weeks ago, when he authored three consecutive efficient, double-digit scoring performances, combining for 43 points on 17-of-36 shooting, with 8 three-pointers. In the eight games since, however, he's shot 20-of-61 (32.8 percent) from the floor, and 7-of-26 (26.9 percent) from three-point range.
The slump extends beyond merely his shooting. In the same eight games, Arenas has tallied 22 assists to 14 turnovers, which simply isn't acceptable for a backup point guard, even in an offense like Orlando's, which doesn't result in many assists.
Perhaps "slump" isn't the best word to use, though; perhaps this is simply how Arenas will play from here on out. That's a grim possibility, but one worth considering, given his iffy-to-outright-awful shot selection and utter lack of elevation on his jumper. Arenas' 32-of-83 (38.6 percent) mark on two-point baskets since joining the Magic tells a pretty compelling story here. Simply boosting that figure to 43.7 percent, which he notched prior to last season's suspension, would be a small victory. But it'd also be far too low to justify the sheer frequency with which he shoots.
Coach Stan Van Gundy took responsiblilty for Arenas' rough patch after the Magic victory last night:
And he and I have to, I think, sit down and talk and try to get a better understanding of each other and what’s going on, because right now I think Gil’s not playing with a great deal of enthusiasm. I don’t think he’s enjoying playing. And I think the way I’m coaching him is a big reason.
Whatever the reason for Arenas' decline to sub-D-League productivity, it's clear that Orlando needs him to shape up before the season's out. Meeting with Van Gundy and getting into the weight room, which he neglected during his suspension, may help. A healthy Arenas, or one who simply makes better decisions, would give the Magic yet another offensive weapon with which to attack the East's other stout defenses.
And apologies if this post reminds you of something I've written before, as I'd like to avoid redundancy as much as possible here. But Arenas' slow go of it in Orlando to date, in conjunction with his high salary and health concerns, make him a target for scrutiny.