NBA analysts have continued to sing the praises of the job the Washington Wizards did in the NBA Draft on June 23. Washington was able to come away with three highly touted prospects, Jan Vesely, Chris Singleton and Shelvin Mack, from a draft class that most experts considered “weak.”

While the draft’s first two selections, Kyrie Irving and Derrick Williams, were previously billed as the lone prizes of this year’s class, nabbing an intriguing trio of talent scored the Wizards high marks from several reviewers., a Washington Wizards blog site, compiled a series of quotes from the NBA’s top analysts to further illustrate the success of Washington’s offseason. Most NBA experts have fallen in love with what Washington has been able to do in just two years after drafting John Wall with the top overall selection last year. But while Wall was widely considered as the top prospect in last year’s draft, the team’s success at finding talent at selections No. 6, No. 18 and No. 34 this year has turned the Wizards into the darlings of the summer.

“This was a critical summer for the Wizards,” Chad Ford, ESPN’s NBA Draft analyst said in his draft grading column. “Drafting John Wall was easy last year. This year the challenge was to surround him with players who complement his talents. Mission accomplished. Vesely is one of the most athletic forwards in the draft and should be great flying up and down the floor with Wall. Singleton is also a terrific athlete and the best defender in the draft. Factor in Shelvin Mack as a solid backup guard at No. 34, and the Wizards came away more athletic and tougher. That’s a great draft.”

Chris Palmer, a writer for ESPN Magazine was posed with the question of who won the 2011 NBA Draft to which he replied: “The Wizards got Jan Vesely and Chris Singleton, two guys who can contribute right away and help turn the franchise around. Vesely has some serious swag to go with his leaping ability. Singleton gives them toughness and could emerge as a quality pro defender. It’s a great way to follow up taking John Wall at No. 1 in last year’s draft.”

Nearly 10 other sources each had high remarks for Washington’s haul last week, as did most television analysts who covered the draft live on TNT.

The team introduced Vesely to local media on June 27 before introducing Singleton and Mack the following day. Ernie Grunfield, Wizards general manager, couldn’t help but pat himself on the back at the June 28 press conference. The Wizards defense surrendered too many points last season but Grunfield’s latest group all come equipped with defensive mindsets.

“Our plan was to get more athletic, to get tougher, to get better as a defensive team,” Grunfield said at the press conference. Mission accomplished.


Stephen D. Riley

Special to the AFRO