You scrape off a few pounds, you may find Kevin Duckworth. You see the raw potential in Dennis Rodman, but is he worth the wait? You have faith, you may be rewarded with Mark Price. You look past the thinness, and there's 7 feet 6 inches worth of Manute Bol looking down at you. Or you could take an educated guess, and wind up with Tito Horford. Or Devin Durrant. Or Phil Zevenbergen.

This is the second round of the NBA draft, where the Washington Bullets, barring any last-minute deals, will have to do a lot of their improving for the 1990-91 season. The Bullets have the 35th and 37th picks overall, having traded their No. 1 pick to Dallas several years ago for long-gone Jay Vincent.

When you look down the barrel of the second round, nothing is clear. There's murkiness. Players turn into possibilities. And for every one that does show the ability to do something helpful, a couple of dozen more can't cut it. It doesn't add up to certainty.

"The thing about this is," assistant coach Bill Blair said, "is you look at all these guys, and one of them does a little something. Then the next guy does a little something. It's hard to tell."

The draft being somewhat poor, Washington may not have found a definite player at No. 9 anyway. But having no pick at all reduces the draft leg of the Improvement Triad to almost zero effectiveness. For any substantial improvement, the Bullets most likely will have to trade or hope they can outbid other teams for the few decent free agents available.

"We've got liabilities at other positions" than center, Bullets Coach Wes Unseld said. "The only problem we have right now is we just don't have a draft pick this year to add another piece to the puzzle. That's what concerns me. We wanted to do other things anyway . . . right now it looks as though we're going to have to rely on the other two alternatives.

"If you look at the other two alternatives, that's not that high either. What kinds of free agents are on the market? If we give up one piece to get another piece, are we accomplishing anything? Those are the things we're looking at right now. I'm not going to blame it all on the center position. I've got a center problem. I've got a one guard {Darrell Walker} that should probably be a three, but he plays so well, what are you going to do? I've got age at my three spot" with 33-year-old Bernard King.

Sources indicate the Bullets are thinking trade right now. They're hot on the trail of Blair Rasmussen, Denver's 6-foot-11 center. Rasmussen is the poor fellow who signed a $17.5 million contract extension last season, and paid the price for it by getting booed vociferously at home. His salary notwithstanding, he'd be perfect for Washington's passing game, a big man who can move around and shoot from the perimeter.

Bullets General Manager John Nash didn't deny it.

"We certainly need some help at the center position," Nash said, "and Rasmussen is a reasonably good offensive center who has some shortcomings defensively. He'd be rated as an average NBA center today. Our coaching staff is intrigued."

Nuggets Coach Doug Moe was a little more skeptical about something working out between the teams.

"They're probably interested in Blair," he said. "They might be interested in Danny {Schayes, the Nuggets' 6-10 center}. They should be interested in some big men. I don't think we're interested in doing anything."

Rasmussen would give the Bullets some scoring out of the center spot. With their motion offense, the where of getting points (i.e., down on the low post) isn't nearly as important as how much. Washington wouldn't have to dump the ball down low to Rasmussen; he'd get any number of open shots naturally.

If a deal isn't made, and Washington was still thinking big, the Bullets would have to look at a handful of candidates, none of whom leaps out at first glance. By the 35th pick, a player like Purdue's bruising center, Steve Scheffler, could be available. Or Providence's Abdul Shamsid-Deen, 6-10 and imposing. Or McNeese State's Anthony Pullard, a 6-10 forward chosen outstanding player of the Southland Conference, averaging 22.5 points and 9.1 rebounds.

Or Antonio Davis, a 6-9 forward from Texas-El Paso. Or Kenny Williams, the 6-9 forward who enrolled at North Carolina a couple of years ago, but transferred out before playing a minute and enrolled at Elizabeth City (N.C.) State; he's coming out early. For a real sleeper, try Texas's 7-5, 300-pound plus center, Alan Bannister, who puts many in mind of Utah's Mark Eaton -- he, like Eaton in college, didn't play a whit his senior season.

Guards? The Bullets would love smooth A.J. English, the Division II player of the year from Virginia Union, a 6-3 player with a dazzling shooting touch. But it's not likely he'd be there by the time the Bullets pick, though he didn't have very impressive postseason tournaments.

Duke's Phil Henderson would be there. Virginia Tech's Bimbo Coles might, depending on what other teams that need point guards do. Or Lee Coward of Missouri. Or Tate George of Connecticut. But look large. The Bullets have to try on bigger suits next season.

Nash acknowledged that "it's hard to discern the difference" between one player and another when you're looking at people like this. "However, we've always been surprised by one or two fellows who jump out and make a contribution. {Portland's} Cliff Robinson is one. {Orlando's} Michael Ansley came up. They looked like NBA players. {But} for the most part second-round picks are destined for Europe or the CBA, and you wait until their contracts expire."