A Love Story: Ernie Grunfeld, the Second Round of the NBA Draft, and Washington Wizards Fans

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The Pick: With the 49th pick of the 2005 NBA Draft, the Washington Wizards select…Andray Blatche.

The Outcome: Uh oh. OK, here’s the cliff notes. On the heels of the Party John Ramos pick the previous season, Ernie took another chance in drafting the talented 6-11 American-Filipino (LOL) PF/C out of high school in upstate New York. In what could be seen as either a precursor to the future or just bad luck, Blatche was shot in the chest in a strange robbery/carjacking just before the start of his rookie season. Once he began to play, Andray teased us with glimpses of stellar play, followed by glimpses of “what the hell is he doing”. Then, of course, there was the off-the-court stuff. In addition to the shooting in 2005, Blatche was popped in August 2007 for attempting to solicit a prostitute that turned out to be an undercover officer.  Still, he showed versatility and potential at his size that you just don’t see very often. His promise peaked at the end of the 2009-10 season, which led to the now infamous contract extension (which by the way, A LOT of fans and media thought was a steal at the time) before the beginning of the 2010-11 season. Then there was the foot injury. Then the lethargic play. The weight.

Then Lapdance Tuesdays. Then “Baltche” on the back of the jersey (not his fault, but since we’re piling on…). The ‘This is your captain’ speech to start the 2011-12 season.  The NWT – Conditioning. The numerous run-ins with coaches Flip Saunders and Randy Wittman. And, of course, more lethargic play just to put a nice bow on this disaster. Blatche was amnestied in July 2012, just before the three year extension that he signed in 2010 was set to kick in.

Woulda Coulda Shoulda: Look, the outcome obviously ended HORRIBLY, but for the 46th pick, Grunfeld did find a talented, yet troubled, player. That’s certainly not anything anybody wants to hear though, and I understand that. There were two players of note that were selected after Blatche: Amir Johnson (56)……and Marcin Gortat (57).