The Wizards visit Gilbert Arenas and the Orlando Magic tonight, which of course gives Arenas the chance to step on his soapbox. Yesterday, in an interview with reporters, he repeated something he's said before: that the Wizards need to stop this youth movement and surround John Wall with veterans.
"Hopefully, [the Wizards make] the right decisions by building with veterans around him, like they did with Rondo, like they did Derrick Rose. You've got to put veterans so he can learn how to play winning basketball. If he stays with all these young guys, they are just going to learn how to lose and be okay with it."
Ah yes, the dreaded "bad habits" argument.
There is some legitimacy to Arenas' point, in that having a bunch of knuckleheads who aren't very good and don't take the game seriously is bad for a point guard. Indeed, we've seen Wall develop some bad habits, such as poor man-to-man defense and turnovers, that you hope go away.
But the reality is that Arenas is cutting corners with this opinion. It's not veterans the Wizards should find, it's high-quality, high-character players of any kind. The Celtics didn't surround Rondo with just any group of veterans; they did so with Kevin Garnett and Ray Allen in a series of trades the Wizards can't hope to duplicate. The Bulls didn't really do what Arenas suggested either -- the truth is they had a very good team full of players who knew how to be successful that just so happened to tank for one year before winning the lottery. In that way, they get lucky. They then exchanged some veterans for others at the 2009 trade deadline, only to purge away other veterans in 2010.
Plus, for every Rondo or Rose, there's a Russell Westbrook or Chris Paul, two outstanding point guards that developed into superstar-caliber players without their respective teams really going out of their way to acquire veterans. Sometimes, the culture of losing thing is overrated. Sometimes, the youth/veteran dichotomy is also overrated. There are young players who act like veterans, and there are veterans who act like young players. To follow Arenas' advice would be to lock yourself into a binary kind of strategy.
In other words, keep building through the draft. Just find mature players while doing it.