- The Washington Times - Wednesday, June 28, 2006

The Washington Wizards are not approaching today’s draft as if their No. 18 pick provides the final piece to their championship puzzle. After all, this draft is not viewed as particularly deep by anyone.

“At 18, you’re not going to get an impact player, someone who is going to come in to a good playoff team and change the whole situation for you,” Wizards president of basketball operations Ernie Grunfeld said yesterday. “But I think we’re looking for the best available athlete regardless of position.”

Grunfeld described today’s draft as a draft of “groupings,” saying that after the first six or seven picks there is a drop-off in talent.

Like many teams in the league, the Wizards covet a big man who can defend the post and battle for rebounds.

However, Wizards coach Eddie Jordan said if they don’t land such a player, they’re interested in becoming deeper and more athletic. Jordan said last week that the team also wouldn’t mind finding another shooter in the draft.

“I like what they are doing in places like Dallas and Phoenix,” Jordan said, indicating that those teams are deep, athletic, quick and hard to defend. “If we can’t get that big guy, then let’s get more athletic. At 18, I think you can go one or two ways.”

The Wizards also have not ruled out the possibility of trading the pick.

“I’ll be on the phones,” Grunfeld said. “You never stop listening.”

The Wizards also have the 48th pick in the draft. While that looks like a throwaway pick, it doesn’t have to be. The Spurs drafted All-Star Manu Ginobili with the No. 57 pick in 1999. Also, Pistons center Ben Wallace, a four-time defensive player of the year, was not drafted.

Opinions differ regarding whom the Wizards might take with the 18th pick.

Some NBA insiders say Washington might be interested in Quincy Douby, a 6-foot-3 guard from Rutgers who averaged 25.4 points and 3.1 assists . Others have indicated the Wizards might use the pick to grab Connecticut’s 6-11, 235-pound Hilton Armstrong, who averaged 9.7 points and 6.6 rebounds last season.

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