The End of Jan Vesely’s Rookie Season
Jan Vesely, after his last rookie game… April 26, 2012:
[Editor’s Note: Surely some Wizards fans have mixed feelings about Jan Vesely’s rookie season, but none can deny that he really came along toward the end. Is Jan what people “feel” a sixth pick should be? I don’t know… Does it matter? He’s on the team now. Besides, who would the Wizards have been better off with? Kemba Walker? The Jimmer? Klay Thompson? One of the Morris twins? No thanks, to all of them. Vesely does a lot of things very well; his instinct, willingness and presence makes me want to tear my hair out from the shameful ineptitude of Andray Blatche even more. Thanks, Jan. Otherwise, Vesely doesn’t need plays run for him to find ways to score; all he has to do is sprint with John Wall and crash the offensive glass. The Wizards will eventually find guys who can put the ball in the basket, but they need guys like Vesely. Great pick by Ernie Grunfeld and his staff, in my opinion. —Kyle W.]
Vesely recently conducted season-ending interviews with Czech media outlets in Prague — Denik.CZ, Rozhlas.CZ, Sport.CZ, Basket.Idnes.CZ — TAI’s Vesely correspondent, Lukas Kuba (@luke_mellow), translates the highlights:
Jan Vesely on the just-concluded regular season:
Overall, I can say that I’m satisfied with the season. I’m already looking forward to a couple days of free time. While playing for Partizan I started playing better as the season went on, too. We [the Wizards] had a couple of injured players, that’s also why I was getting more opportunities. I tried to go all out, to the maximum of my ability. Coaches were giving me advice so that I played more aggressive and shot more. On one side, it’s a pity [that the regular season ended last week], we finally had some success. But the season was long, and if I remember it correctly, we played two sets of back-to-back-to-backs; we played seven games in nine nights. We landed [somewhere] at night, then we had a game the next day, it was challenging. That’s why I didn’t have time for anything but basketball. In free time, I tried to get as much rest and sleep as possible or I watched movies. Everyone’s glad that the season’s over, and we can rest a bit. If we were fighting for the Playoffs, then it’s something else, but because the end of the season was approaching, we all wanted to finish it off — but to finish on a good wave.
Of course that it encourages you. I love dunking, and that was on the positive side of things as well. I’m glad for it.
[NOTE: Vesely finished with 63 dunks, tied with Dwyane Wade for 23rd most in the NBA; amongst rookies, he finished third behind Kenneth Faried and Tristan Thompson.]
On his injury at the start of the season, losing & ending the season on 6-game winning streak:
That’s why it took me so long to get in basketball shape. We didn’t play well as a team, too. Never in my life I lost so many games, but we had a successful end of the season. At that point, we even had fun playing ball. At the end of the season it was fun.
On the 2012-13 season:
I’m not going to do anything now, just relax. But it doesn’t look like I’ll have a lot of free time, because I have to begin preparing for the next season again. I have to be ready for the 2012-13. [The next season] will be better than this last one. We’ll have two months [of training camp and preseason] in order to get a feel for each other on the floor even more. The team will be stabilized better [than it was at the beginning of the 2011-12 season]. At the end of this season, we understood that we have to play collectively; the trades helped us and we figured out the way to win games. Now we’ll try to take that momentum to the next season. I don’t wanna say that we’ll be in the Playoffs, but it will be better. But if we play the way we played the last month, I think we’ll have a chance for the Playoffs.
On his stats of 18.9 MPG, 0.537 FG% 4.7 PPG, 4.4 RPG and working hard during summer:
For a rookie season, I had good stats, but I don’t have any goals regarding statistics, the team is the most important thing. I will work hard on myself during summer in order to be better, improve my shooting outside of the paint and my overall individual skills. I have a plan made for the summer to work on the shooting; my first goal is definitely improving my shooting.
On playing the PF position:
That position suits me well, just that [the lack of] strength is limiting me. The hardest thing was going against Chicago’s [Carlos] Boozer, who’s very strong, and I had big problems guarding him. For example, [at power forward] I was matched up against Dirk Nowitzki, Luis Scola or Blake Griffin, who was showing off his magic. For myself, that was great deal of experience for the future.
On chemistry with John Wall:
Mainly at the end of the season, we started to find each other with good passes. And during practices, we try together to come up with various things, but we can’t bring it out on the floor for games just yet.
On his new teammate Nene:
Nene can pass the ball well or he can score the basket. His arrival brought a change of mood in the locker room; everybody was praising it, me too. I don’t like to play individually, I like team basketball.
On predicting the 2012 NBA champions:
I favored Chicago [to win it all], but without Derrick Rose they won’t go that far. Now I think Oklahoma City wins the championship.
On Czech national basketball team & Eurobasket 2013 qualification:
I’m sure we’ll have dinner with coach [Pavel] Budinsky and GM [George] Zidek. So next week, we’ll sit down together and we’ll discuss it. We’ll see, so far I have not any news regarding the national team. Assistant coach [Mike] Taylor came to D.C. to watch my last game, and I said to him if I can combine it [playing for the Czech Rep.] with the preparation for the next season, then I can’t rule out my participation in playing for the national team. But the priority is to prepare well for the next NBA season and to improve.
[Note: After the Wizards’ last game versus the Heat, Vesely indicated that he would play with the Wizards in the Las Vegas Summer League at the end of July, and then he would go train in Los Angeles, as he did some last summer.]
Dusan Hrdlicka, Vesely’s youth coach:
“I know both Jan’s parents. He came to us, to the Ostrava Snakes, when I recruited his dad as a coach. Honza [Jan] was an interesting type of a spider with long limbs. In contrast to other tall players, he had the advantage in that he grew over 2 meters [6-6] until later in high school, so the growth didn’t have any negative effect on his mobility. As early as when he started playing basketball in elementary school, he was able to move constantly. Also, his movements looked funny. He lacked body weight and spent most of the game on the ground, he was involved in contact all the time and was taking it hard. But, he was a warrior and always had lots of fun playing ball. Thanks to that, he conquered all crises, for example, the divorce of his parents. And lads always liked him on and off the court, he was a lively guy … As early as when he was a high-schooler, I said that his lowest ceiling is playing in Euroleague, and that he has to go out [of Czech Rep.] and go to more competitive environment.”