There’s certainly a lot of positive buzz surrounding Beal. NBA executives had a favorable view of him based on his solid and, at times, sensational showing as a college freshman. He has only helped himself in workouts and interviews with teams.
Nothing Beal has accomplished to this point, however, guarantees his future success in a league in which the Wizards once used a No. 1 overall pick to select Kwame Brown – among professional sports’ all-time biggest draft busts.
As any longtime hoops observer knows, players who stood out at lower levels often fail in the top-of-the-mountain NBA.
Many are done in by lack of talent, which, unfortunately for teams, only becomes apparent well after the ink has dried on their seven-figure guaranteed contracts. Others are simply ill-equipped to conduct themselves professionally (Blatche should do a master’s thesis on that one).
With so much that could go wrong, the draft may seem like a total crapshoot to fans, especially considering some executives try to play down expectations even before making a pick. “When you’re drafting, you have to remember you’re going to draft a very young player,” the Wizards’ Grunfeld said recently. “He’s going to have to learn and have to grow.
“You have to remember . . . they’re young players.”
Know any teenage boys you would want to commit millions of dollars and the future of your franchise to?
No one has a fool-proof plan to unearth draft gold every year. The most successful talent evaluators, though, discover their share of gems.
Oklahoma City Thunder General Manager Sam Presti is widely considered the best in his field. Six picks after the Wizards selected knuckleheaded center JaVale McGee (they finally traded him in March) during the first round of the 2008 draft, Presti used a first-round pick on some guy from the Congo named Serge Ibaka.
Ibaka led the NBA in blocked shots last season. He’s a first-team all-NBA defensive player and a cornerstone of the young, exciting Thunder, which lost to the Heat in the NBA Finals.
“Scouting, certainly, is a huge bedrock for any organization, but no one here is taking credit for knowing Serge Ibaka would turn into this type of player,” Presti said recently in a phone interview.
“Evaluating young players is very difficult. We try to make informed decisions and just try to do the best we can and shift the odds. But you need some good fortune.”
Beal still being available when the Wizards pick would qualify. Making the correct choice would be up to Grunfeld.
For Jason Reid’s previous columns go to washingtonpost.com/reid.