Thom Loverro: Last chance for Grunfeld after picking Beal in draft

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Sports,NBA,Wizards,Thom Loverro

This is the draft pick where you can really judge Wizards general manager Ernie Grunfeld.

Bradley Beal will be the measuring stick.

Grunfeld finally had the opportunity to draft a player unshackled by a demanding owner and high enough -- the third pick -- to get someone truly talented. He had an opportunity with the top pick two years ago, but he needed one more chance and this is it.

It's not fair to judge him before this pick.

His first year selecting talent in 2004, Grunfeld had the fifth pick in the draft. After picking Devin Harris, Grunfeld traded the guard along with Christian Laettner and Jerry Stackhouse to the Dallas Mavericks for Antawn Jamison.

Jamison was the one of the cornerstones of the Golden Age of Grunfeld -- from 2004-05 to 2007-08 when the Wizards went to the playoffs four times with teams that won 45, 42, 41 and 43 games and made it to the second round once.

Grunfeld had no first-round pick in 2005 but still managed to turn a second-rounder into Andray Blatche. You can't put a price tag on the yucks that Blatche has given us, but if you did it would be $22 million and counting over seven seasons.

He had a first-round opportunity again in 2006, but it was the 18th selection in the draft, and you might as well drag the guy playing the plastic buckets off the street with the 18th pick. Instead, Grunfeld chose Oleksiy Pecherov, who couldn't play the drums or NBA basketball.

The following two years, Grunfeld set the stage for the upcoming Wizards renaissance -- taking Nick Young at No. 16 with the 2007 first-round pick and JaVale McGee at No. 18 with his 2008 first-round selection.

Grunfeld was able to parlay those two first-round picks into the trade that brought Nene to Washington in March.

Nene, who will be 30 in September, is about to start his 11th NBA season. Typically you get the value of a player's prime years with the draft, not his twilight years. But Nene, along with two more recent veterans added by trade -- Emeka Okafor and Trevor Ariza -- will provide comfort for the No. 1 overall pick in 2010, John Wall, who seems to be regressing.

Am I leaving anyone out?

Yes, last year's first-round pick by the Wizards. Grunfeld, who was handicapped by having to chose sixth -- selected Jan Vesely, who I've been told can really hustle.

Now it all comes down to 19-year-old Bradley Beal -- who counts.

Examiner columnist Thom Loverro is the co-host of "The Sports Fix" from noon to 2 p.m. Monday through Friday on ESPN980 and espn980.com. Contact him at tloverro@washingtonexaminer.com.

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Thom Loverro

Sports columnist
The Washington Examiner