- The Washington Times - Wednesday, June 28, 2006

Nothing is as it ever seems going into the NBA Draft.

Or even late in the night after the two rounds have been completed.

Or even a year later.

Andray Blatche eventually could take a liking to the weight room and add a layer or two of muscle to his chicken chest.

Or not.

The outcome will not be determined anytime soon, and this is not to neglect the potential of Peter John Ramos, the leading 7-foot-3, 3-point shooter in the world.

Ramos has demonstrated a pretty mean shoulder bump in the pre-game player introductions and knows his way around Roanoke, Va. Otherwise, he remains something of a mystery, if only because he has played a mere 20 minutes in two seasons.

The human condition manifests itself in an infinite number of ways, some favorably, some not, which is why the drafting of players is such a tricky process.

J.J. Redick is hoping not to be a victim of the dirty tricks.

He comes into the draft tonight as the town drunk with a crippling back condition.

The concern over his back problem has grown so loud in recent days that his stock is said to be slipping at an alarming rate.

Of course, the concern could be imaginary, planted either by those personnel gurus eager to have a shot at selecting him or those agents seeking to improve the welfare of their clients.

Redick is hoping to be sober in time for the draft, plus capable of walking to David Stern’s podium without a cane.

Embellishment is as embedded in the draft as the height and weight of the players.

In the days leading to the draft in 1999, Elton Brand became the incredible shrinking power forward, as reports suggested he was not much taller than Muggsy Bogues.

Brand squashed those fears long ago in becoming one of the leading power forwards in the NBA.

Anyone with a vague interest in the NBA now touts a mock draft.

The information sometimes comes with a warning, which is: Do not take these projections all too seriously.

Many of these mock drafts have the Wizards selecting everyone but one of Shawn Kemp’s children.

Ernie Grunfeld, as always, is tight-lipped about which players he fancies, which merely confirms the fanciful nature of the mock drafts.

Jermaine O’Neal is gaining on Kevin Garnett in being the principal figure in trades that never materialize.

The call-in general managers of the Wizards insist on the worthiness of a package deal that includes the Poet, the team’s 18th pick, considerable future considerations, two turtle doves and a partridge in a pear tree.

Perhaps this contention is valid and Grunfeld has been negligent in his dealings with Larry Bird and Kevin McHale.

Wild speculation is perfectly understandable at this time of the year, because there are no games to satisfy the addiction of the NBA junkies.

A newspaper in the Midwest reported the Wizards to be among several teams with an interest in Jamaal Magloire, which was accurate enough.

It should be added that the Wizards have an interest in any forward or center who is inclined to show up with conviction on a regular basis.

The future of the Wizards has stressed the larynx of Gilbert Arenas in recent days, which is distinct from the Miami judge whose dog apparently ate the court notice that led to the issuing of a premature arrest warrant of the two-time All-Star.

Arenas is armed with a basketball and is considered extremely engaging.

This draft is presumed to be weak, although that view is subject to change in the next three or four seasons.

The player order of past drafts inevitably exposes the faulty evaluations of the NBA gurus and the experts, which is understandable.

Predicting how a player will respond to the challenges ahead is difficult, no matter how thorough the background check.

No one can measure the long-term resolve of an athlete and all the variables that must be perfectly aligned for an athlete to maximize his talent.

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