A year after drafting franchise cornerstone John Wall with the No. 1 overall pick, the Washington Wizards selected Jan Vesely ( No. 6 overall), Chris Singleton ( No. 18 overall) and Shelvin Mack (No. 32 overall) in the 2011 NBA Draft, with the expectation that they would one day play integral roles in leading Washington out of purgatory and into the playoffs.
These expectations weren’t limited to Washington, as this draft class was lauded by draft pundits, like by ESPN The Magazine’s Chris Palmer. Palmer proclaimed that Vesely and Singleton would be immediate contributors and aid Wall in turning around the franchise.
With combined career averages of 8.0 points and 34.6 minutes per game, it’s safe to say that their contributions have been minimal during their brief NBA careers.
While the 2011 Draft, as a whole, has produced very few impact players, Washington erred in passing over three such players. Splash Brother and No. 11 pick Klay Thompson, No. 15 pick Kawhi Leonard and No. 22 pick Kenneth Faried all would look good beside Wall right about now. Further maddening is that all three players weren’t hidden gems, but highly touted prospects who simply slipped on draft day. ESPN’s Chad Ford had placed all three in the top 10 on his Big Board of NBA Draft prospects, whereas Singleton and Vesely were listed outside the top 10.
The selection of Singleton over Faried is the more egregious error in this draft, even with Vesely being the higher selection. This is because had the Wizards drafted Faried, they more than likely would have never traded for Nene and thus had his nearly $13.5 million average salary to spend elsewhere.
The Wizards failed 2011 draft class is yet another example of an NBA team picking potential over production. Ironically enough, in doing so, the Wizards lost out on forming the nucleus of a “potential” playoff team.