5 Wizards that could have been

Published by Axel on 27th September - 18:29 (CET)
As Washington Wizards ended up second to last in this years draft lottery their top 9 protected pick went to the Phoenix Suns. Subsequently the Wizards didn't get to draft any player at all this year.

But they have in the past. Some good, some bad. Let's look at the bad ones, or at least the ones that didn't turn out very well.

Don't let the picture fool you though, I'm going to leave JaVale out of this. He gets enough shit as it is.
Picked 18th overall in the 2011 NBA Draft by Washington Wizards.

Forward Chris Singleton played high school basketball in Georgia. First at Cherokee High School and later at Dunwoody High School where he really excelled and became a McDonald's All-American, got selected to the Parade All-American Third Team and got listed as the 12th best player in the nation in 2008.

After high school Singleton got recruited by Florida State, where he played three years of college ball and earned his living as a defensive specialist with good catch-and-shoot abilities.
He got selected to the All-ACC Third Team and the ACC All-Defensive Team both in 2010 and 2011 while being awarded as the ACC Defensive Player of the Year in 2011.

When the 2011 NBA draft came around he was regarded as the best defensive prospect in the whole class but it didn't take too long to realize that that clearly wasn't the case as his defensive skills from college never translated into the pros.
From that class we now know for a fact that Klay Thompson became a better defender. Perhaps even Jimmy Butler or Kawhi Leonard.

After three seasons with Washington Singleton averaged 4.1 points, 3.2 rebounds, 0.6 assists, 0.8 steals and 0.4 blocks per game while shooting .376 from the field, .319 from three and .633 from the line.
As his performances with the Wizards clearly wasn't enough they chose not to resign him.
He later signed with the Pacers before getting waived after less than two months.

Singleton moved on to play for Jiangsu Dragons in the CBA, Oklahoma City Blue in the D-League, Lokomotiv Kuban in Russia and hold your breath, Anhui Wenyi in the NBL! No, not the fairly good NBL of Australia, the NBL as in a minor league in China.

He is currently playing for Panathinaikos in Greece. Any more NBA action from Singleton is not expected.
Picked 6th overall in the 2011 NBA Draft by Washington Wizards.

In the very same draft year the Wizards selected Chris Singleton, they also selected Czech big man Jan Veselý with the 6th overall pick.

Playing for Partizan in Serbia Veselý got selected as the FIBA European Young Player of the Year in 2010 and won the Serbian Cup, Serbian League and Adriatic League (featuring clubs from former Yugoslavia) three years in a row in 2009, 2010 and 2011.

Veselý started off slow with the Wizards, but after head coach Flip Saunders was replaced by Randy Wittman he started to show some improvement. Improvements which unfortunately didn't last for long as he regressed some in his sophomore season and only played 84 more games for the Wizards before getting traded to Denver Nuggets, where he played 21 games.

In his NBA career Veselý averaged Singleton-like numbers with 3.6 points, 3.5 rebounds, 0.6 assists, 0.7 steals and 0.5 blocks per game while shooting .521 in field goal percentage and .408 from the line.

He later moved on the Fenerbahçe in Turkey where he recently had a lot of success as he won the Turkish Cup, the Turkish League and got selected to the All-Euroleague First Team just this year.

Talented big men from Europe are often viewed with high regards in the NBA, but picking Veselý before Klay Thompson, Brandon Knight, Kemba Walker, Kawhi Leonard, Jimmy Butler, Iman Shumpert, Chandlers Parsons and many other good players sure seems stupid now!

If they wanted a big guy from Europe they could just have gone with Nikola Vučević.
Picked 18th overall in the 2006 NBA Draft by Washington Wizards.

Guess what? Another big from Europe who can shoot the ball!

Oleksiy Pecherov saw a lot of success in his native Ukraine where he won the Ukrainian SuperLeague in 2005 and the Ukrainian Cup in 2007 while playing for BC Kyiv.

There's not much to say about Pecherov's tenure in the NBA. Even though he was 7 feet tall he wasn't strong nor athletic enough to dominate the paint, and his shot just wasn't good enough as he averaged .386 from the field, .290 from three and .906 from the line.

He played two seasons with the Wizards before betting traded to Minnesota where he only played 44 games. In his full NBA career he played 111 games, averaging 4.5 points, 2.8 rebounds, 0.3 assists, 0.2 steals and 0.3 blocks per game.

After his short tenure with the Timberwolves he moved back overseas to Europe where he has played for six teams in six years.
Picked 11th overall in the 2002 NBA Draft by Washington Wizards.

Playing high school basketball at Bloomington High School North forward/center Jared Jeffries was regarded as one of the best prospects in the country, being selected as the Indiana Mr. Basketball in 2002.

Staying in Indiana he moved on to play college ball for the Hoosiers of Indiana University where he had instant success and won the Big Ten Freshman of the Year award in 2001.
He continued he success in his second and last season at IU and became a Consensus second-team All-American, was selected to the First-team All-Big Ten and won the Big Ten Player of the Year award in 2002.
As Jeffries declared eligible for the 2002 NBA draft Washington selected him with the 11th overall pick.

After only 20 games into his rookie season Jeffries tore his ACL during practice and was out for the remainder of the season.
He still managed to play three more seasons with the Wizards before moving to New York to play for the Knicks. While serviceable he never became quite the player the Wizards would have hoped for.

In his full NBA career Jeffries played 629 games, averaging 4.8 points, 4.1 rebounds, 1.3 assists, 0.7 steals and 0.5 blocks per game while shooting .426 from the field, .250 from three and .583 from the line.

As of right now Jared Jeffries is hired as a talent scout for the Denver Nuggets.
Picked 1st overall in the 2001 NBA Draft by Washington Wizards.

What is up with the Wizards and picking the wrong big men for post duties?!

If you have read this far you were surely waiting for it. Michael Jordan's protégé, Kwame Brown.

MJ is the greatest basketball player of all time. He may also be the worst basketball GM of all time.
Jordan wasn't actually the general manager of Washington Wizards at the time. Technically he wasn't even the Director of Basketball Operations but he was some sort of team president.
Whatever his role was he had huge influence and made the Wizards pursue high school phenom Kwame Brown over Tyson Chandler, Pau Gasol, Zach Randolph, Gerald Wallace, Joe Johnson, Tony Parker, Gilbert Arenas, Mehmet Okur and many other good players.

Brown was the best high school player in the country at the time, ranked higher than both Tyson Chandler and Eddie Curry who also got drafted straight out of high school that very same year.
He broke numerous of records at Glynn Acedemy, was named a McDonald's All-American and got selected as the Mr. Georgia Basketball in 2001.

There is no question at all that he was a talented young man, but selecting a 19-year-old center and expect him to have immediate impact when going up against grown men was just not realistic.
As a mere teenager he had problems adjusting to the pro game. His lack of work ethic, stubbornness and cocky attitude angered teammates, coaches and organization staff to a point where he more or less got lynched in the media by his own team. Can't be easy for a 19-year-old who more or less was expected to come in and be the next Shaquille O'Neal by the team who drafted him.

At start Jordan was mentoring Kwame, took him in as a friend and tried to help him become a better player. Don't fool yourself into thinking it was a sweet act though. He probably did this so to a) win more games b) not have his draft choice second guessed.

It didn't take too long for Jordan to turn his back on Brown as well as he totally destroyed the youngsters confidence. One of many stories that comes to mind was published in Michael Leahy's "When Nothing Else Matters" in 2004:

Jordan's infatuation with his protégé waned. He thought Brown was cocky and disrespectful sometimes, particularly when the teenager nagged him about playing a one-on-one game, hinting that doom awaited him. Finally, Jordan agreed to the game, Brown grinning on the court, convinced his youth and height would be indefensible weapons against this shorter man twice his age. Early in the game, believing he had a lunging, jabbing Jordan off balance, the kid dared to say:

"You reach, I'll teach."

Jordan snapped, "You teach, and I'll knock you on your damn ass."

He proceeded to humiliate Brown, mocking him while scoring at will, declining to help him up when the teenager fell hard to the floor, winning lopsidedly and, at the end, yelling at Brown to acknowledge his superiority in front of the team:

"You better call me 'Daddy,' (expletive)."

"Michael was breaking him down," one observer recounted, "probably to build him up. But there was a lot of breaking down."

There are not teenagers who would be able to withstand the kind of treatment he received.
Brown's "failures" can be boiled down to a number of reasons from too high expectation, young age, weak mental game, getting drafted too early, Michael Jordan's wrath, Doug Collins media game, his work ethic or his extremely small hands, but the following statement which in itself is a really weird statement to make by a coach kind of explains Brown's problem in a raw a real way. When asked about Brown's current shape Collins answered:

"He's in great shape... to play a high school game."

Kwame Brown's real issue was the fact that he was one of those high school players who was a man among boys. He was more skilled than his opponents, but mostly he was much stronger, bigger and faster than anyone he was facing on the court back at Glynn Acedemy.
When he played against other men that was no longer the case. He looked NBA ready before he actually was, and even if he didn't become a star player he grew into a very serviceable player off the bench.

Brown played four seasons in Washington before getting traded to Los Angeles Lakers, much to the dislike of Lakers fans. He then bounced around the league with different teams until 2013.

In total he played 606 regular season games between 2001 and 2013, averaging 6.6 points, 5.5 rebounds, 0.4 assists, 0.3 steals and 0.5 blocks per game while shooting .459 from the field and .570 from the line.
As a bonus I give you the worst pick Washington has ever made. This horrible creatures is called G-Man, and he still appears sometimes during games in Washington.

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