The Washington Times - May 18, 2011, 10:42AM

It was a long shot to come away with the top pick two years in a row in the NBA Draft Lottery, a feat that was last accomplished 1992 and 1993, when the Orlando Magic did it, and came away with Shaquille O’Neal and Penny Hardaway.

But at the very least, the Wizards were projected to finish no worse that fourth. But, the ping pong balls were not cooperative this year, and the Wizards dropped down to the 6th spot in the upcoming NBA Draft.

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General manager Ernie Grunfeld maintained a philosophical attitude.

“We wish we could have gotten the number one pick like every other team, but we are where we are. We’re going to do our due diligence and I think we’ll get a player that will be a good piece for our puzzle moving forward and someone who can help us either next year or down the road,” Grunfeld said.

“We do have a lot of work ahead of us because our range is so wide. We go from the 6th pick all the way to 34. There are a lot of players that we have to evaluate and we have to interview and bring in and do a lot of research on. But it’s an exciting time.”

Grunfeld and the Wizards coaching staff are now off to Chicago for a three-day NBA combine.

Grunfeld did not address a specific need at any position, even though it’s pretty clear that the only job on the Wizards that is locked down is Wall’s spot at point guard.

“I don’t know if we have a pressing need at any one position. We have seven players under contract and we have really all our positions filled – John at point guard, [Jordan] Crawford at the two, Rashard [Lewis] at the three, Andray Blatche at the four, and JaVale [McGee] at the five.”

“And, we also have some free agents that we want to bring back, so we feel we have all our positions covered fairly well. So, the best available player that fits into our situation the best, that’s what we’ll be looking for.”

Grunfeld paints a nice picture, but when a team finishes with the fourth worst record in the league at 23-59, changes must be made. True, all the positions may be filled, but to say they are filled “fairly well” is a bit optimistic.  

The good news is that the team has three picks; the bad news is that by all accounts, this is a pretty mediocre draft. The team will start shopping for players this weekend in Chicago.

It’s also an advantage that unlike the NFL, which was in full lockout mode at the time of their draft, the NBA Draft is on June 23, and gives NBA teams one week to make a few moves before the CBA ends on June 30, and the NBA also enters the dreaded lockout stage.