Pat Riley, the man who made suave a part of NBA terminology, was calmly rattling through his postgame analysis after exhibition game three of the 500-game pro basketball season on Friday night when someone mentioned the name of the Washington Bullets No. 1 draft pick.

"Little son of a gun," Riley said as his face broke into a broad grin. "He's great. Before the game we talked about how to defend him and in the second quarter we couldn't stop him anyway. He just took over and rolled through us. He opened up the whole game for them."

During that second quarter in Capital Centre Friday night, the Bullets, Riley's defending league champion Los Angeles Lakers, 14,201 fans and Tyrone (Muggsy) Bogues himself saw firsthand for the first time what kind of havoc a 5-foot-3 guard can wreak on the NBA.

Bogues entered the game with the Bullets trailing, 31-22, after one quarter. At halftime, they led, 57-49, and Bogues had 12 points and four assists. "I'll tell you one thing," said Magic Johnson, the guard who defines what guard play should be, "if you let him get beside you, forget it, he's gone. The little guy is quick."

Some people criticized Bullets General Manager Bob Ferry when he made Bogues the 12th player chosen in the NBA draft last June. The theory went that you don't win championships with guards who are 5-3. Truth be told, you don't win championships drafting 12th, or in that vicinity every year, an affliction that has dogged the Bullets throughout the 1980s. It is no coincidence that the eight banners trumpeting various division, conference and (one) NBA titles that hang at the locker room end of Capital Centre stop abruptly after 1979.

The only way to be a true title contender in the NBA is to be terrible (witness the Houston Rockets); lucky (the Philadelphia 76ers got Julius Erving in 1976 because the New York Nets were money-starved) or ingenious (draft Larry Bird in the first round when he still has a year of eligibility or trade for the top pick twice in a decade and land Magic Johnson and James Worthy).

The Bullets have been none of the above in the last nine years. But in Bogues, they may have something special. "He's stronger than Spud {Webb, Atlanta's 5-7 guard} and maybe even a little bit quicker," said Michael Cooper, the Laker who had to guard Bogues most of Friday evening. "It's funny because I remember when I first came here I was awed by Kareem {Abdul-Jabbar} because of his size. With Bogues, it's similar in a way. His size really is awesome in its own way.

"A couple of times tonight I thought I was playing against my {6-year-old} son on our one-on-one Dr. J basket at home. I kind of wanted to put my arm around him and say, 'Nice play.' But then he'd blow by me and I'd forget that."

People tend to focus on what Bogues can't do. What they forget is this: while there are things others can do on a basketball court that he cannot, there are other things he can do that no one else can.

"No one will get it up the floor faster," Johnson said.

"No one will mess up your offense quicker," Cooper added.

Bogues has deficiencies. The Bullets knew that when they drafted him. He was a poor shooter when he arrived at Wake Forest four years ago, an average one by the time he finished last spring. "You can lay off him right now," Riley said. "He's got to hit the jumper to extend defenses. He hasn't shown he can do that yet."

Friday night, with the game on the line, the Lakers up, 106-105, with less than two minutes to go after a Bogues-led rally, the Lakers backed off Bogues and dared him to shoot. Never shy, he did, from 20 feet. The ball chipped rim paint. The Bullets never caught up again.

"People lay off me, that's fine," Bogues said. "I'll get better. I'm still only a rookie. But if they give me room, I'll make my shot when I have to. I'm not worried about it."

What may be best about Bogues is that he seems to worry about very little. He has survived in the game this long only because of his supreme self-confidence. All he has ever asked is a chance to play.

The Bullets seem likely to give him that. By drafting him No. 1 and signing him to a lucrative contract, they have made a major commitment to him on the court and in the wallet. Although he has been mentioned at times in trade talk, including this week, it is likely he will be given a chance to make his mark here. It seems more likely the Bullets will trade Michael Adams, who used to be a small guard at maybe 5-10, to give Bogues a clear shot at a lot of playing time.

Even if both stay, Bogues will be asked to do a lot. His first two NBA exhibition games were less than impressive (one-for-13 shooting), but that will improve as he becomes more comfortable on the floor. What's more, shooting is not the reason Bogues is out there.

"He changes the whole game when he comes in," Johnson said. "You have to be aware of him at all times. He's like a fly that gets in your face when you're trying to sleep. Every time you think you've slapped him away he comes buzzing right back."

Bogues will buzz on defense. He will create a lot of fast breaks on offense because his low-to- the-floor dribble gets the ball upcourt so quickly. He has great court sense and, perhaps most remarkably, always seems to see the play as it develops despite his close-to-the-ground view. There will be bad nights and good ones. Friday, against the toughest team of all, Bogues passed a major test.

"I wasn't intimidated playing the Lakers or Magic," he said, pulling on bright red shoes. "When we're on the court, we all put on our shoes the same."

He smiled and stood up. The Bullets are now claiming he is 5-4. Never has he been measured at an iota more than 5-3 1/2. "Maybe," he said with a smile, "I grew a half-inch over the summer."

Maybe, by next summer, he'll stand a lot taller than that.