NEW YORK - The Washington Wizards went for shooting help Thursday in the NBA draft, selecting 6-foot-4 guard Bradley Beal of Florida with the third overall pick.
The freshman averaged 14.8 points and 6.5 rebounds for the Gators last season. Beal, who turned 19 on Thursday, joins a backcourt headlined by John Wall, the No. 1 overall selection in the 2010 draft.
The Wizards finished this past season with a 20-46 record, though a trade deadline deal for Nene sparked improvement. Washington closed the season on a six-game winning streak, providing encouragement for a franchise that missed the playoffs for a fourth straight campaign.
Considered one of the premier perimeter shooters in the draft, Beal made 10 of 19 attempts from beyond the arc during the NCAA Tournament. Last season the Wizards ranked 28th in the NBA from beyond the arc, shooting 32 percent.
Wall led the Wizards with 16.3 points and 8.0 assists last season, but connected on only 7.1 percent (3 of 42) of his 3-point attempts.
The third consecutive SEC freshman selected in the first three picks, Beal was also the Wizards third lottery selection in three seasons.
"I don't want to be in the lottery anymore," Wizards owner Ted Leonsis said during a press conference before the draft. "I would find that unacceptable."
With its two first-round picks last year, Washington drafted forwards Jan Vesely and Chris Singleton with the sixth and 18th overall picks respectively.
Vesely, a Czech Republic native, averaged 4.7 points and 4.4 rebounds in 57 games last season with 20 starts. Singleton, the first Washington rookie to appear in every game during his first season since 1981-82, averaged 4.6 points.
The Wizards added frontcourt depth earlier this month, trading for center Emeka Okafor and forward Trevor Ariza.
Wall remains the team's centerpiece entering his third professional season. Now he has more shooting help.
"I think he's a great pick," Wall said. "So many people wanted to get to him and I'm glad that we had the opportunity to pick him. He's somebody that can make shots and he helps spread the court for you."
Jordan Crawford, the Wizards second-leading scorer (14.2), took over the starting guard role opposite Wall following Nick Young's trade to the Los Angeles Clippers as part of the deal for Nene.
Washington also entered the draft with a second-round selection, the No. 32 overall pick.
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