Although the Bullets have the 10th pick in Tuesday's National Basketball Association draft, the highest selection they've had since 1977, General Manager Bob Ferry says that won't allow them to think about filling a specific need with a specific player.
"Right now I'm not looking for anything with that pick," Ferry said. "Picking where I am, I just don't have a chance to look for something in particular. I don't need help at one position--I just need people, better players than I have all around.
"It's tough to say publicly exactly what you need without hurting the feelings of the players you already have. All I can say is that I need another horse, but picking 10th, I don't think I'll get that. I'll just have to pick the best player available who I think can help us."
Players expected to be available when the Bullets pick are forward Thurl Bailey and guards Dereck Whittenburg and Sidney Lowe, all Washington area players from North Carolina State's national championship team; forward-guard Clyde (The Glide) Drexler of runner-up Houston; forward Terry Fair of Georgia, center Russell Cross of Purdue; center-forward Leroy Combs of Oklahoma State, and guards Jeff Malone of Mississippi State, Rod Foster of UCLA, John Paxson of Notre Dame and Byron Scott of Arizona State.
Scott has impressed the Bullets, especially Assistant Coach Bernie Bickerstaff.
"He does a lot of things well," said Bickerstaff, "and he's one guy who sticks in your mind after you've seen him. He'll probably be the first guard chosen."
Scott, 6 feet 4 and 197 pounds, missed the 1981-82 season for academic and personal reasons. He returned last season and was switched from shooting guard to point guard. He averaged 21.6 points and shot 51 percent and was a first-team all-Pac-10 selection.
Of the three North Carolina Staters, only Bailey is a real possibility for the Bullets in the first round. Lowe and Whittenburg, both barely 6 feet, are limited by their size.
Drexler, 6-7, is one of the best athletes in the draft, but his jump shot is suspect, a serious problem for a swing man in the NBA.
Although Ferry prefers to keep his team's specific needs to himself, many of them are obvious.
The most conspicuous need is for a scorer--that one multidimensional player who can generate his own offense. It is unlikely, picking where they are, that the Bullets will get such a player in the draft, which is one reason they are looking closely at free agents. They have expressed interest in Kansas City guard Larry Drew, Cleveland guard World B. Free and San Antonio forward Mike Mitchell.
Ferry has also expressed an interest in Utah forward Adrian Dantley, but said last week that it was unlikely a deal could be worked out for the former NBA scoring champion. Dantley has two years remaining on a $450,000-a-year contract, but as soon as the Bullets talk Dantley, the Jazz talk Jeff Ruland and the conversation ends.
The Bullets' other needs are for an all-around guard like Ricky Sobers and a Ruland-Rick Mahorn type to give them depth inside because the Beef Brothers are prone to foul.
The Bullets also have the 22nd pick in the first round, acquired from Los Angeles in the Mitch Kupchak trade two years ago. They have two picks high in the second round, the 32nd and 34th picks overall.
The first second-round pick was acquired from Detroit for Larry Wright three years ago. They also had Houston's second-round pick (25th overall), acquired in the Elvin Hayes trade, but gave it to Chicago when they signed Sobers in midseason.
The Bullets didn't have a first-round pick last season; it went to Detroit as part of the re-acquisition of Kevin Porter in 1979. They didn't draft last year until the second pick of the second round, when they took guard Bryan Warrick. He started infrequently and wasn't a factor by the end of the season.
The last time the Bullets had a pick as high as 10th was in 1977. They had the fourth pick, acquired in a trade that sent Truck Robinson to Atlanta for Tom Henderson, and took Greg Ballard.
"I suspect we'll get at least one player who will help us this year," said Ferry. "But the way this draft is, I'm not sure what we can get beyond that first pick."