Rebuilding behind high character youth is something we're all on board with, but a magical Dallas Mavericks 2011 NBA Finals run fueled by veteran poise should be reinforcing the value of an experienced hand. That's not remotely novel, but there's a concern in the community that too much youth will be counterproductive on the floor. The Thunder are the obvious counterargument here, bringing a young core to maturity together. Mike wrote about lessons we can learn from the Mavs yesterday, and this is something I've been thinking about since Rook's article on the importance of defense.
Honestly, I think it's too soon to worry about balancing experience and youth on the roster. Next year is all about growing a team culture with the guys who are going to be around John Wall when it's time to contend, and while we're all concerned about the effects of a losing season on young players' psyche, we're also looking hard at next year's draft. Again, that's a familiar caveat.
The Wizards are at a formative stage right now. Look at the Maverick's roster, and you'll see a long list of players from teams who consistently fell short. Nobody needs to be taught to hate losing or love winning. We see a veteran coming in and settling down the locker room, guiding the youth to 'the path they should travel'. We have a name for those kinds of veterans; we call them 'coaches'. Veterans, most of them, bring a lot of personality, and can do quite a bit to enhance an established rotation. But in an early rebuild, these guys get frustrated by rookie mistakes, lose patience with the pace of progress, and resentment can fester with continuous losing.
There are exceptions to every rule, but on the other side of the coin, a player's maturity has to be high enough to appreciate what the veteran has to offer. Look at it as the difference between coaching an angry teenager living at home and a somber one who's been out in the world for a year or two. This may be a further indictment of our holdovers or not, but I hope the Gilbert Arenas trade sent the message that this is John Wall's team and every one of our guys is expendable by comparison. For this to be his team, I think there needs to be one season where the most authoritative voice in the locker room is his. Rashard Lewis is perfect fit in that respect; able to be a good example without leaving any doubts as to who the leader is and needs to be.
2012/13 is when I want to see some veterans coming in. If we can find a complementary bargain (cough, Dorell Wright, cough), fine. The coaches have to be ready, willing, and able to fill in the gaps and teach good habits until then. Nearly all of our young guys will be fully established by that point; ready to win, ready to listen, and built to contend around the Great Wall. Wine won't come of age any faster by mixing in anything further along in the maturation process, and there's no rush, yet. Or, we could just trade for Dwight Howard now.