Randy Wittman, Veterans And The Washington Wizards' Lack Of Them

Much has been made in recent days of Washington Wizards' interim coach Randy Wittman saying the following after Saturday's loss to the Los Angeles Clippers:

Maybe I gotta sprinkle in another veteran that knows what that game's all about before it starts. I think once that game started and they saw how hard they came at us that it was a 'Holy smoke' type of thing. I'm searching, too.

It's a fair premise. Young players, from time to time, lose focus, so it's nice to have a proven guy to plug in when that happens to be a band-aid and provide motivation for the young players to improve. Except, there's a problem, as Kyle Weidie pointed out over the weekend.

A veteran in addition to Rashard Lewis (even though Wittman said ‘other than')? A veteran aside from Lewis (because he does bring needed veteran traits, aside from playing so poorly)? There are no other veteran options. Searching for... no one really knows.

The only other nominal "veterans" on the roster are Ronny Turiaf, who is injured, Roger Mason, who never shoots as well in games as he shoots in practices, and Maurice Evans, who isn't in tip-top shape due to being signed late and solving the lockout. So what is Wittman supposed to do, exactly?

This strikes me as one of the major problems with stockpiling youth in the NBA. Basketball isn't hockey. In the NBA, you only have 15 roster spots, injury or otherwise. If you devote eight of those spots to first- and second-year players, and three of those spots to Andray Blatche, Nick Young and JaVale McGee, you have four spots left to devote to veterans. If you're also trying to keep costs down, you end up hoping Turiaf's injury history doesn't pop up, Lewis' knees stay upright and Mason and Evans discover a fountain of youth they haven't seen in two years. That's not fair on a coach.

This is why I was so adamant that the Wizards needed to sign some guys this summer. At the end of the day, you need guys who can play, if only to act as a buffer to aid the development of the youngsters. Player growth is never linear. There are peaks and valleys along the way. When those peaks and valleys happen, a coach needs a steady hand to rely on that still can play a bit. That becomes hard to make room for when 11 players need their hands to be held.

Wittman's right to be searching, but I don't think he's going to find much. That's not his fault.

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