When NBA pundits think of Jan Vesely, the former sixth overall pick out of the Czech Republic, only one word comes to mind: Bust.
Ernie Grunfeld and the Washington Wizards haven’t missed on many high draft picks in recent memory, but the Jan Vesely selection sticks out like a sore thumb. The 6’11 forward was drafted merely because of his size and ability to run the floor, which was supposed to help John Wall execute a transition offense. Needless to say, none of that has happened, especially since Vesely has been unable to find any sustainable minutes on the floor. Now that Jan Vesely is entering his third, and final guaranteed season of his contract, it’s finally starting to seem like he may be ready to contribute in the nation’s capital.
Even though Jan Vesely is still very raw, and hasn’t developed nearly as much as we would’ve hoped, he still possesses some tools that the Wizards coaching staff could potentially utilize. His lack of confidence is probably his most significant achilles heel, since his reluctance to shoot the ball or knock down free throws has really burdened the Wizards in the past. Luckily for Washington, we’ve seen Vesely’s confidence grow exponentially this summer, and it all started in the Las Vegas Summer League. Averaging nearly 12 points and 7 rebounds per game in Vegas, Vesely carried his improved performance over to the EuroBasket where he dominated for the Czech Republic national team. Vesely ranked sixth in points per game, led the tournament in total rebounds, but most importantly, he showed the world why the Wizards took a chance on him in 2011. Vesely led his national team to a number of upset victories, averaging 17 points and 11 rebounds per game. If you were to tell me that Vesely could put up those sort of numbers against any level of competition, I’d probably call you crazy.
Needless to say, Vesely’s improved confidence has given the Wizards some sort of hope, and head coach Randy Wittman expects that sort of play to carry over to this season;
Randy Wittman on Jan Vesely: With Jan, that’s what it is: Believe in himself, be emotional, stay in tune to things and what he’s capable of doing. Sometimes, a young player, a guy like him coming over here (to the U.S.), one guy thinks he should be this kind of a player, one guy thinks he should be that kind of player. As I’ve told Jan, ‘This is the kind of player you are right now and this is what you need to concentrate on…
You got to get the belief in yourself. I’ve seen that. I’m really happy with what I’ve seen with him.
Vesely obviously has the talent to become a productive NBA player, but his lack of confidence is what truly hinders his game. He’s entering his third year in the NBA and he hasn’t shown anything for us to believe his jump shot, nor his free throw percentage, will improve this season. Even though he’ll probably never shed the “bust” label, given that he was drafted sixth overall, I still firmly believe that he could contribute if given the chance. Believe me, I’ve been the biggest Vesely doubter of all, but his size and athleticism are undeniable.
The Czech national team weren’t able to run much of a transition offense since they don’t have the pieces to do so, but Vesely still managed to become a major contributor. Energy players have become a commodity in the NBA, and the Wizards could probably mold Vesely into a serviceable player.
If Vesely doesn’t perform like we know he could in training camp, his time in Washington could be coming to an end after this season. Since the Wizards have a bit of a logjam at the forward spot, Vesely needs to separate himself from his competition in camp. He seems very willing to improve, and he’s shown us what he’s capable of this offseason, so it’s time for Vesely to produce in the NBA.
What do you expect from Vesely this season? Is he salvageable? Give me your thoughts in the comment section.