Gilbert Arenas has been talking about the 2001 NBA Draft and he has some very interesting theories about why he may have slipped to the second round.
Gilbert Arenas’ career was cut short by injuries but in the span of 11 seasons, he established himself as one of the greatest second-round picks in NBA history. Arenas, who was taken by the Golden State Warriors with the No. 31 pick in the 2001 NBA Draft won Most Improved Player in his second season, made three All-Star teams and averaged an absurd 29.3 points and 6.1 assists per game in his best season at the age of 24.
Arenas entered the draft with some serious credentials. He averaged 16.2 points, 3.6 rebounds and 2.3 assists per game as a sophomore at Arizona, while shooting 41.6 on 3-pointers. He was the leading scorer on a Wildcats team that finished 28-8, made the National Championship game and featured three other future NBA players — Richard Jefferson, Loren Woods and Luke Walton.
However, while Jefferson ended up as a lottery pick, Arenas fell to the beginning of the second round. And why does he think that is?
Gilbert Arenas thinks the Celtics’ head coach tanked his draft stock
In a recent appearance on the All The Smoke podcast, Arenas blamed then Celtics’ head coach Jim O’Brien for destroying his draft stock:
I had a two-day workout there, Boston. Killed it my first one. And then they wanted me to stay for the second day but I hurt my Achilles. And like I previously hurt it and I was like if I don’t heal it I’m going to miss the rest of my tryouts. I tried out for 17 teams, f**k that process, that’s just dumb. That has no meaning for nothing. And he [O’Brien] put the rumor out that I’m too immature, that I’m not taking this seriously.
Arenas went on to explain how he thinks that rumor is what pushed him out of the first round. As Arenas pointed out earlier, the Boston Celtics had two lottery picks in that year’s draft — the No. 11 and No. 12 picks — which they eventually used on Joe Johnson and Kedrick Brown. What he doesn’t mention here is that the Celtics also had the No. 21 pick, which they used on Joe Forte. Not great.
O’Brien coached the Celtics for two more full seasons and part of a third, before getting fired halfway through the 2003-04 season. If he had taken Arenas instead of Brown or Forte, maybe things would have turned out a bit differently.