I wasn't quite sure what to expect from Ernie Grunfeld and the Wizards in the NBA Draft. Over the past few weeks, reports surfaced that the Wizards were enamored with Jan Vesely, the talented, 21-year-old forward from the Czech Republic. But the Wizards were also exploring trade options, including possibly moving up in the draft to select other skilled big men, such as Derrick Williams or Enes Kanter. But in the end, the Wizards held onto all three of their draft selections, and by many accounts, used them wisely.
With the Wizards' first choice at No. 6, Vesely was indeed the selection. So maybe the Wizards tipped their hand a little early, but Grunfeld seemed very happy to get a guy they've been targeting for a while.
At No. 18, the Wizards selected another versatile forward: Chris Singleton out of Florida State. Singleton, also 21 years old, is considered by manner to be the best defensive player in the draft. According to a few reports, the Wizards were apparently considering taking Singleton at the sixth spot, so Grunfeld had to be ecstatic when Singleton was still available 12 spots later.
With their last pick, the 34th overall selection in the second round, the Wizards selected 22-year-old Shelvin Mack, a guard out of Butler. At 6-3, he's listed as a point guard and will probably get a chance to be the primary backup to John Wall, but he's also considered to be a combo guard who can create his own shot and knock down threes. The Mack selection, like the other two, also fills a team need.
I'm not a talent evaluator or a scout, and I haven't seen more than a few YouTube clips of Vesely. But even though I was skeptical of the Wizards selecting him before the draft, I do like the pick a little more afterwards considering the next two picks the Wizards made. The rebuilding goal, according to Grunfeld and Ted Leonsis, is to build around John Wall and keep bringing in younger, more talented players. Hopefully some pieces from this draft end up being significant building blocks to accomplish that plan.
Here's what other scribes around the NBA blogosphere think about the Wizards' draft (many including draft grades):
- "Washington Wizards (23-59): Three quality picks, Jan Vesley will surprise, Chris Singleton will defend and Sheldon Mack will scrap. Grade: A-" [Kurt Helin, Pro Basketball Talk]
- "[Listed under the Winners column:] Washington Wizards: The Wizards very quietly had a terrific draft. First Jan Vesely was available, who fits a need for them at slashing forward. With his athleticism and aggression, he makes a perfect partner to run the break with John Wall. Then, miraculously, Chris Singleton tumbled all the way down to No.18 where the Wizards jumped all over him. Singleton is a lottery talent that fell out of the top 14. He gives the Wizards the ability to move Andray Blatche if they can find a taker for his contract. He can rebound and defend exceptionally well. Singleton's length and athleticism, combined with a chip on his shoulder from dropping, makes him a great pick for the Wizards. Shelvin Mack in the second round was a great value pick for backup point guard." [Matt Moore, Eye on Basketball]
- "Grade: A+ Vesely fawning aside, this was a terrific draft. Vesely will be must-watch TV for those of us who dread pulling up Wizards games on a Tuesday at 7 at night, Singleton is a needed lockdown defender who might allow Flip Saunders to bust out his zone defense once again, and I don't understand why other teams underrated Shelvin Mack. This isn't an area where I want to be proven wrong. No boffo names, but Washington did well to surround John Wall with some eager types who couldn't be bothered with the team's recent history. Well done." [Kelly Dwyer, Ball Don't Lie]
- "Well, we know at least this much about Vesely — he has great taste in women! That stuff aside, Vesely will be a great finisher and running mate for John Wall. Singleton is considered the best defender in the draft and is a great piece for this young team. Mack could be a solid back-up and the team should be considered on the come up. Grade: A" [Dennis Velasco, The Basketball Jones]
- "Synopsis: The only two above-average players on the Wizards each got something to love on draft night. Point guard John Wall picked up a brilliant running mate in Vesely, a flyer who will no doubt find himself on the business end of a number of open court alley-oops. JaVale McGee, the team's quixotic center, found a partner in defensive crime in Singleton.
Of course, these two guys play the same position. But Washington can very easily push either one to power forward for stretches (and maybe over the long-term) given McGee's weakside defense. Individually, Vesely has to develop his jumper quite a bit to avoid becoming a problem in the halfcourt, and Singleton has to be a legit threat from the NBA arc.
Picking up Mack is a wash -- he won't likely be anything spectacular, but you could do worse. Grade: A." [Tom Ziller, SB Nation]
- "[Posted under the "Who won the draft?" column:] Chris Palmer, ESPN The Magazine: 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." [ESPN 5-on-5]
- "[Grade: A+] As I mentioned earlier, John Wall can't do it alone. The Wizards won the same amount of games without him in the 2009-10 campaign as they did with him last season (23), but now comes the fun part. In grabbing the athletic, exciting small forward in Jan Vesely (No. 6), they now have a get-up-and-go talent to run the break with their franchise centerpiece. Vesely has been the apple of the Wizards' eye for quite some time and that's precisely why. In Singleton (No. 18), they get a lockdown defender player who claims he can guard all five positions. Shelvin Mack (No. 34) is a nice pickup at the point as well, as Washington's only backup for Wall before the draft was journeyman Mustafa Shakur." [Sam Amick, SI.com]
Sebastian Pruiti also wrote up a solid scouting report yesterday on Vesely -- it's definitely worth checking out.
For more draft coverage and Wizards coverage in general, check out Bullets Forever and Truth About It, as always.