Mike Prada of Bullets Forever recently hypothesized that Jan Vesely’s poor play is more a symptom of a bad fit than a symptom of Vesely being a bad player. I can’t say I totally disagree, though it is sometimes hard to watch Jan and think he is anything more than a goof who mistakenly wandered onto the court during an NBA game, but wasn’t removed by security because he’s tall and can rub his belly and pat his head at the same time. Vesely seems lost and has received embarrassing DNPs in both of the Wizards’ two wins.
Jan has awful traditional stats but his on/off court stats are the second best on the team. According to 82Games.com, the Wizards are 16.1 points better with him on the court; for comparison, the Wizards are 11.9 points better with Kevin Seraphin OFF the court. While this has been imperceptible so far (at least to me), and you can write it off as a short scene in the small sample size theater, it is at least something Vesely can hang his hat on.
And it seems like Jan needs a place to hang his hat. “Tentative” is the best word to describe his game right now. I can’t say I recall Jan making an aggressive move on offense or defending confidently very often so far in his brief NBA career. He doesn’t appear to be engaged and he seems tolerant of his poor play; rarely does he show more than a simple shrug of discontent after a call doesn’t go his way.
The expectations for Vesely should have been small to start with. Jan does one thing really well besides run the court well, but without a healthy John Wall pushing the pace, the Wizards are garnering the fifth fewest possessions of any team in the NBA and are not creating easy looks. Jan isn’t going to create for himself either, as 92.3% of his buckets have been assisted and he isn’t going to bang the boards for second chances, as his offensive rebound rate is average for forwards. And we know that he isn’t going to knock down jumpers on a pick-and-pop, which seems to be the go-to play without Wall in the line-up. A slow pace paralyzes Vesely and incapacitates his game; he thrives on running.
Ted Leonsis has been adamant in his defense of the young big man, and Wall’s return should invigorate Jan. But, if it doesn’t it will be even more difficult for Mr. Leonsis to defend him in the future.
Help us John Wall, you’re Jan’s only hope.