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Just The Sports: Agent Zero Consistency

Just The Sports

Friday, January 19, 2007

Agent Zero Consistency

Thanks to a display of late-game heroics, Gilbert Arenas has ingratiated himself to the NBA media, making him the NBA news cycle's flavor of the month. Not only does he have people calling him by nicknames he devised for himself, but Arenas is now being lauded as the NBA's best pure scorer and clutch player. Since hyperbolic compliments are being handed out left and right regarding Arenas, it is only fair that we inaugurate the "Black President" with one more: Mr. Inconsistent.

Right now, Arenas's 29.9 points per game average has him ranked second in the NBA, behind Carmelo Anthony and ahead of Allen Iverson, Dwyane Wade, and Kobe Bryant. Second place in scoring would normally be nothing to be ashamed of, but the way in which Arenas has arrived at his scoring average should keep him from taking too much pride in his place among the NBA elite.

Of the top five NBA scorers, Arenas's efforts bring along with them the highest standard deviation in points per game (12.2) and true shooting percentage (.161). This means there is less predictive reliability when it comes to how Arenas will do on a given night. He may give you 42 points, but he is just as likely to only score 18 points. It is this unreliability that keeps Arenas and the Wizards from reaching their true potential.

Not surprisingly, Kobe Bryant has the highest standard deviation for field goal attempts per game (7.1). I say not surprisingly because Bryant seems to approach each game as if whether or not he shoots depends on the whims of a Magic 8 Ball. When the Magic 8 ball answers "yes-definitely," Bryant looks to jack up upwards of 27 field goal attempts. On the other hand, on the times the Magic 8 ball says "my reply is no," Bryant is afraid to attempt more than 13 shots.

When Arenas is ready to become more consistent, the two players he should look to emulate in basketball play only will both be wearing Nuggets uniforms: Carmelo Anthony and Allen Iverson. Before Anthony decided it was a good idea to sucker punch a player and then immediately back up to halfcourt, he was the most consistent scorer out of this five players with a points per game standard deviation of only 6.4. Iverson is the main culprit when it comes to consistent shooting. Although his career percentages leave much to be desired from a shooting guard, he has a true shooting percentage standard deviation of .086, meaning you can almost set your watch by what Iverson will shoot in a random contest.

Despite being a supremely talented player, Arenas's play this season indicates he is not quite ready to become the best in the league at either scoring or shooting. Someone to make game-winning shots for my team is a bonus, but I'll take the most consistent player over the one with the most flair for the dramatic any day.



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