- The Washington Times - Thursday, June 29, 2000

The Washington Wizards looking to fill a need at small forward selected relative unknown Mike Smith of Louisiana-Monroe with the 35th pick in the 2000 NBA Draft last night in Minneapolis.

Smith averaged 18.5 points and grabbed 9.4 rebounds on the way to being named the Southland Conference Player of the Year this past season. Smith caught the eyes of Wizards president of basketball operations Michael Jordan with an MVP performance at the Portsmouth Invitational Tournament, where he averaged 19.3 points, grabbed 6.7 rebounds and shot 57 percent from the floor.

Jordan was surprised that after that performance Smith remained a relative unknown.

"He showed that he could do a lot of things with the ball," Jordan said at the conclusion of his first draft. "He's an explosive type of player. At the 35th pick, you're taking a shot in the dark, but you never know. I think that you'll be surprised in terms of his capabilities."

The Wizards' pick came after the Chicago Bulls used three consecutive choices to select Indiana guard A.J. Guyton, and two University of Connecticut players, center Jake Voskuhl and point guard Khalid El-Amin.

The Wizards finished with the sixth worst record in the league. However, in order for them to have had a first-round pick last night they needed to finish in the top three of the May 21st lottery, which they didn't. The good news is that pick, which ultimately went to Chicago at No. 7, was the last of three first-round picks the Wizards had to fork over as a result of the 1994 trade that sent Tom Gugliotta to Golden State in exchange for Chris Webber.

That trade is the main reason why the Wizards have had just two first-round picks in the last six drafts. The Wizards came into the lottery with low expectations. They were seriously limited with what they could do because they are already well over the salary cap for next season. Also, they have just $2.25 million to spend on free agents.

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