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Rick Snider: Feeling the draft pressure

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Sports,NBA,Wizards,Rick Snider

With the third pick of the NBA Draft, Washington Wizards general manager Ernie Grunfeld selects ... some obscure project from Europe that never amounts to anything.

Well, that's what's happened before.

Grunfeld is on notice -- he has to get Thursday's draft pick right to keep his job. Not another Jan Vesely, last year's sixth pick who remains a work-in-progress. No more JaVale McGees or Nick Youngs, who couldn't mature into solid players.

Aside John Wall, and that was a no-brainer pick at No. 1 overall in 2010, Grunfeld's drafts have been miserable. His trades have been good and free agency signings decent, but drafting is the key to rising from the league basement, and Grunfeld has stunk at it.

The pressure is on for the GM. Choose wisely or someone else will make Washington's pick next year.

New Orleans will take Anthony Davis with the first overall pick. The Kentucky shot-blocker can turn the Hornets from a joke to a contender.

Charlotte could go several ways, but the Bobcats will likely take Thomas Robinson of Kansas. The power forward delivered 27 double-doubles last season. Nobody passes on a potential great frontcourt player.

That leaves Washington with Bradley Beal of Florida. The shooting guard would combine with Wall to give the Wizards a solid backcourt, which in today's NBA is the difference. Beal is a touch small at 6-foot-4, but then he turns 19 on Thursday so there's still time for another inch or two.

Beal likes to shoot but not with the recklessness of Young. There shouldn't be any 3-for-19 nights while proclaiming himself the greatest 3-point shooter ever. Beal learned how to flow through an offense under Florida coach Billy Donovan and follows his shots for rebounds.

The Wizards could go big. Nothing wrong with a good big man. North Carolina small forward Harrison Barnes averaged 17.1 points last season and will probably do the same in the NBA. But he wouldn't be a difference maker on the Wizards that Beal could be.

Kentucky small forward Michael Kidd-Gilchrist would be a typical Grunfeld pick -- lots of potential. The difference is Kidd-Gilchrist will likely develop into a beast. It would be so tempting to take him over Beal only the Wizards just can't afford the risk. They require a safer player like Beal.

Washington doesn't need any fancy moves on draft day. Just stay at No. 3 and let Beal fall to them. Should someone grab Beal at No. 2, then take Barnes.

Beal won't lift Washington into the playoffs alone, but he's another piece to a several year rebuilding project. It's just a matter of doing the right thing.

Examiner columnist Rick Snider has covered local sports since 1978. Read more on Twitter @Snide_Remarks or email rsnider@washingtonexaminer.com.

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