Should Ernie Grunfeld, Master of Late Draft Picks, Trade Down?

Philip Maymin
Basketball News Services 

The Wizards President of Basketball Operations Ernie Grunfeld is looking at the highest draft pick he has ever had the pleasure to consider. How have his past draft picks worked out? An in-depth look at the big successes (e.g. Michael Redd drafted 43rd overall and T.J. Ford drafted 8th overall) and the big flops (e.g Marcus Haislip drafted 13th overall and Joel Przybilla, acquired via draft-day trade, drafted 9th overall) of his career so far. It appears Grunfeld is better at picking second-rounders than first-rounders. Does this mean the Wizards should look to get some immediate help and trade down, very far down?

Here is a list of Grunfeld's past draft successes:
Michael Redd (#43), the cream of the Grunfeld selection crop, is an All-Star.
Dan Gadzuric (#34) is an integral player for the Bucks and their starting center, and is 18th in the league in offensive rebounds per 48 minutes and sixth in blocks per 48 minutes.
TJ Ford (#8) is TJ Ford.
Ronald "Flip" Murray (#42) had a breakout early season this year in Seattle.
Jason Hart (#49) is a solid backup to Tony Parker, averaging 3 points, 1.5 rebounds, and 1.5 assists in 12.5 minutes a game.

And here is a list of Grunfeld's past draft flops:
Andre Huston (#52) is not in the league.
Marcus Haislip (#13) is a backup on the Bucks, averaging 3 points and 1.7 rebounds in 8.5 minutes a game.
Jamal Sampson (#47, trade) is a non-player on the Lakers, having played in just 15 games in his two-year career.
Szymon Szewczyk (#35) is not in the league.
Joel Przybilla (#9, trade) has blossomed into a 4 point, 8 rebound starting center for Atlanta this year.

Here is the same list by number:
#9 bad
#13 bad
#34 GOOD
#35 bad
#42 GOOD
#43 GOOD
#47 bad
#49 GOOD
#52 bad

Here's something to note: of the seven second-round picks Grunfeld has been involved in, four have turned out good and only three have turned out to be busts (and who knows what the future holds for Jamal Sampson). That's very impressive.

Of the three first-round picks Grunfeld has been involved in, only TJ Ford is an unqualified success. The others seem to be evolving into career backup players.

Does that mean the Wizards should consider trading down, way down, in their draft picks? Grunfeld's highest pick so far, TJ Ford at #8, has been a success. Maybe he will do even better with #5.

But if the Wizards are able to get a quality veteran from a rebuilding team looking for luck in the draft, and if they can steal some late first-round or early second-round picks, perhaps Grunfeld can work his magic once again.

The Washington Posthas a surveyasking readers if the Wizards should consider drafting a high school player (81% say no) and if the Wizards should trade their pick (42%), use it (38%), move up in the draft (5%), or move down (15%).

28 players have already worked out for the Wizards in just the last two weeks. See the complete list here.

The Wizards have a listof notable fifth picks. They include Dwyane Wade, Jason Richardson, Vince Carter, Ray Allen, Kevin Garnett, and Juwan Howard.

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Nick Keppler ofThe Pitt Newswrites: Shot. Passing lane. Switch. Hedge. Pick-and-roll. These are just some of the terms Pitt linguist Alan Juffs taught to a group of young athletes from around the Pacific Rim on a basketball court in Shanghai, China last week. Adidas selected Juffs, director of Pitt's English Language Institute and chair of the Department of Linguistics, to teach "basketball English" to young Asian athletes headed to the sporting goods company's Superstar Camp to be held this July in Atlanta... Juffs traveled with Washington Wizards point guard Gilbert Arenas, German-born NBA all-star Detlef Schrempf, and former New York Knicks general manager Scott Layden during his one-week visit to Shanghai.The NBA players taught the young athletes how to walk the walk, while Juffs taught them how to talk the talk.

Mike Lucas ofThe Capital Timeswrites: After Okafor and Howard, there seems to be a significant difference of opinion. "This year there's no clear-cut number three, four, five or six," Ernie Grunfeld recently told the Washington Post. "It depends on how teams view those types of players." You may remember Grunfeld from his brief tour of duty in the front office of the Milwaukee Bucks. Grunfeld is now serving as the president of basketball operations for the Washington Wizards, who have the No. 5 pick. The Wizards are guard-heavy with Gilbert Arenas, Larry Hughes, Steve Blake and Juan Dixon. But Grunfeld has a history of drafting guards. He took T.J. Ford in Milwaukee at No. 8, and Greg Anthony at No. 12 when he was running the draft for the Knicks. Grunfeld knows Harris and his game better than most. Still, it's the unknown that's keeping everyone guessing about the 2004 draft. And that might also be the case for Harris and Deng until they give us notice otherwise.