The Jan Vesely Diaries: Dear America, I Scored The 100th Point
People are kind of down on Jan Vesely right now. Some say that as the sixth overall pick in 2011, he should be playing better. Really? There are high standards for the sixth pick in a weak draft? Let’s all take a step back and chill, add some lockout-shortened season/tainted locker room perspective to the mere 19 games of Vesely’s rookie season thus far. He’ll only be 22 in April; he needs more of a chance.
For starters, Vesely is part of the Wizards’ “core” of seven players. Dan Steinberg on the DC Sports Bog relays that on ESPN 980′s The Sports Reporters, Coach Randy Wittman was asked about key future pieces in the rebuild aside from John Wall. Wittman acknowledged that fans aren’t the only ones having trouble identifying impact players on the roster outside of the 2010 No. 1 pick, saying, “That’s what we’re trying to figure out ourselves.”
Now, one can certainly deduce that Wall is the one and only true piece, but I’ll argue that there is a core of seven players: Wall, Shelvin Mack, Chris Singleton, Jan Vesely, Trevor Booker, Jordan Crawford, and Kevin Seraphin. I place Crawford and Seraphin last because the team should not marry themselves to either, but both have shown enough glimpses of promise to keep looking, especially Seraphin with his massive build. Also, ESPN.com’s David Thorpe (on ESPN Insider) has noted both Crawford and Booker as NBA sophs “with starting, if not starring, potential.” JaVale McGee? I’m apathetic when it comes to his future in Washington. Maybe he stays at the right price, maybe the Wizards take drastic actions to help him grow up. McGee is a huge maybe. But that aside, this is your Wizards core. No, not dazzling. And yes, it’s legit to question who amongst this group is starter-quality material — If you ask me, Wall, Singleton (potentially a better version of Bruce Bowen), and Booker (his progression must be recognized and potential slightly adjusted), but the latter two certainly stretch the boundaries of imagination at this point.
Do the Wizards need to scorch the earth more, get rid of some dead weight culture? Absolutely. Does Ted Leonsis need to spend his money on the free agent market very, very wisely? He better, as Leonsis also needs to assess if Ernie Grunfeld is capable of doing so; his track record is not encouraging, and thus, Leonsis will likely seek a new, fresh direction for his team. Do the Wizards have a long way to go? Undoubtedly.
This is the Wizards’ landscape. Not as promising as one would like, but not dire by any means. And let’s be honest, they need a lot of luck via the draft. But John Wall is pretty fast, so let’s hop on for the ride before it speeds up.
Back to Vesely… He has shown some encouraging signs (and I do have the video to prove it… for a future post). Basketball instinct does reside within him, it just needs to be developed. Jan has been penning a diary for the Czech website Sport.CZ, his most recent entry was published on January 28. Lukas Kuba (@Luke_Mellow), the byline of this post, is TAI’s go-to source for all things Vesely from a Czech Republic perspective. Today he translates Vesely’s last two journal entries. -Kyle Weidie
CZECH: Jan Veselý pro Právo o životě v NBA: Za stovku jsem do kasy neplatil
Jan. 28, 2012 – 04:55 pm (updated Feb. 1, 2012 – 11:00 am)
via Sport.CZ, by Jan Vesely
“Since my last post, I underwent a fundamental change. I have become an NBA player, and I appreciate every minute that I can play. But on Tuesday, a big intervention to the team occurred. Due to unsatisfactory results, Coach Saunders was fired, which I don’t even want to comment on.
Under new coach Wittman, we played only a win against Charlotte so far, but it’s hard to assess what the change brought in. But he gave me quite enough playing time, I played 19 minutes, and perhaps the performance of the team as well, was a promise of improvement. So far we won only three of 18 games, however we are determined to break the bad beginning of the season.
There was a lot of talk about my collision with one of the stars, Boston’s Ray Allen. Definitely there was no intention. The opponent tried to run around my screen and stepped on my foot, thereby he hurt his ankle. It was an unfortunate accident, certainly Washington didn’t find a bad man in me.
More pleasant was the situation when I happened to be the first Wizards player to record the 100th point, that happened in the game in which we upset the leader from Oklahoma City. In Europe I would have to put something into the team’s money box or at least bring some bottle.
But here it is not that common. In particular, you pay for late arrivals, I avoided this so far. Even if the list of penalties is not that comprehensive, it doesn’t mean that as a rookie of the team I did not do the classic things like collecting balls after practice.
For example, when I have a taste for going shooting individually or to the weight room, it’s no problem. On Tuesday, after such an individual practice, I remained in the arena to watch a hockey duel – Capitals vs. Boston.
I have to admit that my attempt to get driver’s license didn’t end well because of my English, so I’m still without a car. For my resit I just have to prepare better. With my cell phone, unfortunately, I have a problem with international calling, so I can be in connection through phone only in the U.S. so far. But next week my family arrives to visit me, which is a chance to see each other again after a long time. I’d want to show them my basketball skills the best I can.”
CZECH: Jan Veselý exkluzivně o životě v NBA: Během Vánoc se přestěhuju do svého!
Dec. 23, 2011 – 07:06 am
via Sport.CZ, by Jan Vesely
“The problems with my hip, which were causing a sharp stabbing in my right side and were the reason I couldn’t even play in the final rehearsal in Philadelphia, are fading after two days of rest and rehab, so since Thursday I practice again. X-rays didn’t show any serious problem, together with athletic trainers we’re doing everything for me to be ready for my Monday’s premiere against New Jersey.
Before that, we’ll celebrate Christmas in Washington together with my girlfriend Eva. We’ll have chicken, which my mom’s always cooking at home, on our Christmas Eve table. I don’t eat carp, so Eva had to import her own supplies.
I already sent the first load of gifts home. In particular I was buying electronics here, on the wish list of what to find under the Christmas tree was an iPod as well. I have bought some small items, but I’ll give them to my parents when they come visit me here.
Eva will be staying here until Tuesday, and she’ll be able to watch our first game in the lockout-shortened season, but then she flies home. There’s a week trip of away games on the schedule, so it’s unnecessary for her to stay here.
Finally, I found an apartment to buy in Washington. The club gave me someone who helped me finding it, and it looks like I could move there from my rented apartment during Christmas. So far, I live two blocks from the Verizon Center, so I don’t need a car.
When applying for American driver’s license, in addition to work visa, I must have an allocated insurance number. Hopefully they should issue it for myself to the end of the year, then I can get a phone with tariff plans. I didn’t have time for anything else, I didn’t even go to see the downtown and the Christmas decorations.
I was surprised how strong they perceived the death of Vaclav Havel in America, even our head coach talked to me about that. I wanted to express condolences by using a black tape on my Wizard jersey, but I didn’t have the approval from the league office.
Keep your fingers crossed for us, please, in order to have a successful start of the regular season and next time I’ll write on the first Saturday of January.”