A disastrous 2009 season helped the Washington Wizards net a franchise point guard in John Wall. So, after finishing 23-59 in the 2010 season, the Wizards were looking for a few good men out of the 2011 NBA draft and, on June 23, and they scored big.

With the sixth and 18th pick in the first round, Washington came away with a pair of forwards who the team believes could dramatically alter the franchise’s fortunes in the coming years

With their lottery selection, Washington nabbed Jan Vesely, a 6-foot-11-inch combo forward from the Czech Republic. With pick 18, the Wizards turned their gaze back to the states, selecting Florida State small forward Chris Singleton, a 6-foot-9-inch defensive specialist. And for their last pick at No. 34, Washington picked another potential gem–Shelvin Mack, starting point guard for Butler University, a team that went to the NCAA championship two consecutive years.

Washington wanted to come away with two things form this draft: added size and toughness to their frontcourt and a backup point guard. Both Vesely and Singleton give the Wizards two versatile, athletic forwards who can run the floor and finish at the rim; vital areas for a team controlled by one of the faster point guards in the league. Mack, a 6-foot-3-inch guard, could prove the ultimate compliment to Wall coming off the bench as an experienced, steady lead guard who can shoot the ball well and make solid decisions.

“I’m very happy to be in the NBA,” Vesely, 21, voiced over a teleconference at Wizards’ headquarters on draft night. By all accounts, the Wizards will be happy to have the versatile forward, who was named the European Young Player of the Year in 2010 while splitting time in two leagues last season. Vesely averaged 10.4 points and 4.3 rebounds in the Adriatic League and 9.2 points and 3.4 rebounds in the Euroleague, showcasing athleticism, shooting and defensive shot blocking in limited action.


Stephen D. Riley

Special to the AFRO