I wouldn’t exactly go entrusting Gilbert Arenas to head a franchise rebuilding project any time soon. Although, the whole gun thing certainly did have a part in expediting the Wizards’ current rebuilding efforts, so kudos to that.
On the other hand, Arenas is no dummy. Someone who is as quotable and clever-witted as he is, one who has played games with the media in the past, is certainly smart enough to have that brain power translate when it comes to basketball insight as a 10-year NBA veteran (just not always when it comes to where to draw the line with pranks).
Amongst saying this and that after his return to D.C. on Friday night, Arenas had some interesting thoughts on rebuilding and how the Wizards should treat John Wall:
“Just from being a fan of the NBA, I don’t believe in rebuilding teams through drafts. It doesn’t work. Because eventually those guys got to get old at some point. And if they all become successful, eventually you have to pay them … when you can’t afford them. That’s what happened with the Blazers. I mean, you can name every team. They’ll have one, two years of success and then eventually those players … can’t afford them anymore. Oklahoma, you got [Jeff] Green coming up … what are you going to do with him? Then after him you got [Russell] Westbrook, and then the rest of the young guys.
If I’m running the team, I’m looking at Wall and I’m going to put veteran players around him. That’s how you build him. You can’t have him out there playing, learning bad basketball. I mean, you know, it’s just like putting a young player in the D-League. You’re going out there, just throwing up shots and learning bad habits. Just like when [Rajon] Rondo, his second year, he got put with those All-Stars, he learned playing winning basketball and I think that’s what they need to do. Derrick Rose, same thing … eventually put veterans around him so he can learn faster. You keep young players the same age, they all learn bad habits. None of them learn how to win.”
I’m not going to get into dissecting Arenas’ strategy too much (me thinks Sam Presti and the Oklahoma Thunder will be alright, but nothing is certain). I think you do carefully build through the draft; Ted Leonsis would certainly give Arenas some stats and talking points otherwise.
However, Arenas is right about the presence of veterans being key to the development of young players such as John Wall. The Wizards are doing okay with Rashard Lewis and Kirk Hinrich as veterans, but they’re not particularly strong forces, and their efforts are further dampened by the play of others dragging the team down as a whole. This is issue number one for the Washington Wizards, in that their middle core of young players lacks basketball intelligence.
It’s time for Flip Saunders to stop babying some through persistent poor focus and decision-making. Effort is sometimes greater than experience, which makes one wonder about the protectionism around the starting positions of certain players.
The Wizards’ plan for rebuilding has been set forth, it’s just hard to evaluate where exactly the team is in the process because they’re so mentally bogged down on the court. Something tells me, however, that the team should be glad Arenas is not in charge of the rebuild. His ‘you don’t rebuild through the draft’ sentiment is reminiscent of many of Isiah Thomas’ decisions.