Silence is Golden: Hibachi's Rebirth

Many sports fans subscribe to the philosophy that preseason means nothing — I am not one of those fans.

Either is Gilbert Arenas.

I have always been a critic of Arenas, seeing him as nothing more than a world-class scorer who kills offensive chemistry and defends about as well as Jim O'Brien coaches. But that was the Arenas who was busy calling out the Duke Blue Devils and tying ridiculous bow ties.

And while only four games have been played, it's clear to see Arenas is a changed man and for the better.

Through four preseason games, Arenas is averaging 14 points and 8 assists per game in only 24 minutes a contest. And yes, you read that right, 8 assists. But the most surprising statistics so far has been his shooting percentages. Arenas is shooting 59 percent from the field and 50 percent from 3-point land.

He is taking less shots and looking to work within in the offense instead of above it. Again, critics will say its preseason, it means nothing — but Arenas' whole approach to the game has changed. He shut down his blog, shut his mouth and wants to let his playing do the talking. Sure, the NBA fined him because he was so silent, but this golden silence is worth every penny.

Arenas' sudden team-first approach could not come a moment sooner. The Wizards acquired Randy Foye and Mike Miller in an effort to make a push for the playoffs. The problem is Foye and Miller have never seen a shot they did not like and either has Arenas. With three guys looking to shoot every time they touch the ball, the super consistent Caron Butler and Antawn Jamison would be left with minimal opportunities.

Many experts have projected the Wizards to make the playoffs — some even think they will finish as high as fourth in the Eastern Conference. Before the preseason started, I didn't think playoffs would be a possibility. But after a refreshing approach to the game from their captain, I think they have a good chance to earn anywhere from a No. 8 to No. 6 seed.

A lineup with a focused Arenas, Butler, Jamison and Miller is an offensive juggernaut. Brendan Haywood continues to be grossly overrated, but Andray Blatche and JaVale McGee are starting to come into their own along with sharpshooting Nick Young.

Preseason matters, and Arenas has made the biggest impact with his lack of words. His unselfish and smart plays have the Wizards looking like a playoff squad.

Now if DeShawn Stevenson can follow the leader, Washington might avoid a basketball recession this season.

Arenas went from zero to hero and back to zero. Don't let his number fool you, Arenas is ready to be a hardwood hero once more.