When you're the second pick in the second round of a draft, making it in the NBA is a long shot. While Gilbert Arenas already beat those odds, teammate Roger Mason appears ready to make a push for significant playing time.
Mason has helped pick up the scoring slack with Arenas sidelined, and will likely get another start when the Washington Wizards visit the struggling New Jersey Nets on Friday night.
Arenas was the No. 2 pick in the second round of the 2001 draft by Golden State and Mason was selected in the same spot a year later by Chicago, but their careers have certainly taken different trajectories.
Arenas started 30 games as a rookie with Golden State, and has blossomed into one of the league's premier scorers with Washington (14-13). Arenas, though, is out until March following knee surgery, leaving the Wizards searching for ways to fill his scoring void.
Mason has stepped up nicely, averaging 12.7 points in his last 11 games.
He has made three straight starts for injured point guard Antonio Daniels (knee), setting a career high in points in each of his last two contests. Mason had 24 points Wednesday night as the Wizards snapped a three-game losing streak with a 108-104 win over Charlotte, following up his 20-point effort in a loss to Indiana on Saturday night.
Mason spent two years playing in Israel after being drafted by Chicago and returned to the NBA with Washington last season, but didn't average more than 3.7 points per game in any of his first three years in the league.
"Coach (Eddie Jordan) has put a lot of confidence in me, and I'm pretty consistent with my minutes out there," Mason said. "I'm getting good looks and my teammates are finding me."
Daniels did some light work during Wednesday's shootaround, and Jordan said he will likely return against Detroit on Jan. 2.
The Wizards, however, did get Caron Butler back Wednesday after he missed Saturday's contest with two sore ankles. He scored 25 points versus the Bobcats to raise his season average to 22.2.
Mason could be matched up with New Jersey's Jason Kidd, who continues to set records despite having one of the worst scoring seasons of his career.
Kidd missed all eight of his shots from the field and finished with two points as the Nets (12-16) fell 101-83 to red-hot Detroit on Wednesday night, but had 13 assists to move into sixth place on the all-time list in that category.
Kidd has 8,972 career assists, moving him past longtime friend Gary Payton (8,966), and is on pace to pass Isiah Thomas (9,061) by February. Kidd, though, is averaging a career-low 11.0 points per game and shooting a career-worst 36.7 percent from the floor.
New Jersey's loss Wednesday continued its struggles at home, where it is 3-10 since winning three of its first four games there.
The Nets are averaging 88.0 points in two games against the Wizards this season, but the teams have split those games.
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