“I work most during the offseason on my outside shot. I spend a lot of time on this skill,” said Jan Vesely, with hope and wry smile that his jumper will put the league on notice next season.
He’s put in the time, that’s for sure. And on media day, Jan credited much of his preparation for the upcoming season to his participation in the NBA Summer League in Las Vegas, as well as the ability to stay in Washington and workout in team’s facilities. A Wizards coach, Joe Connelly, also travelled with Vesely on a visit back home to the Czech Republic this summer to work him out. Jan even moved his new fiancee, Eva, to the District in the offseason. That’s dedication. (Although Jan won’t reveal how he proposed her, which happened in D.C. shortly after last season, and he says they haven’t set a date.)
But is Vesely ready mentally? Practicing jump shots is one thing, having the confidence to knock them down when the NBA lights are on is what separates a select few from the masses. Jan need not be aware of the social media snickers when he airballed his first free throw as a rookie, or when he didn’t make a jumper until March. He knows that his ability to play in the Association relies on being able to make outside shots.
If everything works out, maybe Jan should credit dad, too.
“…the proper shooting technique is important, but he has to have a large dose of self-confidence in his ability to shoot, be relaxed while shooting. He has to have that mindset to score more points, to believe in himself, not being afraid. He lacked this a lot in his rookie season. If he shows this self-confidence in the upcoming training camp, I think he can be in the starting five or the first guy off the bench. It’s all about having the right mindset mentally. As long as he will play that tentative ‘I’d-rather-pass-the-ball-than-shoot-it’ basketball, he won’t get much playing time. In February, when I visited him in Washington, we talked about this and then he began to be distinctly more aggressive on the floor, didn’t hesitate with his shots and tried to finish off the plays more. He has to play this way, with this information in head. It is not that I tell him this every time we talk to each other, after all, it’s up to him. He knows that I believe in him, believe in his abilities to accomplish his goals.”
Wizards coach Randy Wittman has been stressing that his big men need to be able to hit the 15-foot jump shot. And playing time determinations could come down to just that.
“We don’t necessarily have what you call a ‘spread 4′ on this team. So those guys — Jan [Vesely], Nene, those guys, Kevin [Seraphin] — are going to get that shot,” Wittman told the media on day two of training camp.
But Jan Sr. was also concerned about son’s health. More from the basketmag.cz interview:
“Honza played the last regular season games and all Summer League games with an aching Achilles tendon. Because of this, he visited a specialist in D.C. (and then later another one in New York City as well), and thus couldn’t even attend Tim Grgurich’s Big Man camp. He got some brace up to his knee, which had a small balloon device for inflating the brace in order to have the spot protected. The treatment lasted for around one month, up to the beginning of September. At that time, he said to me it was OK, healed. From what I know, they took a blood from him and injected it into that sore spot. He didn’t have to use any medications. So in the month of August, he had to rest. Due to this, he wouldn’t have been able to play with the national team [in the EuroBasket Qualification], if the Wizards gave him permission to play. The good thing is, it’s nothing chronic.”
“It’s fine right now,” said Vesely about his Achilles on Monday. He said that he took a few weeks off after summer league to allow his body to recover, and by all indications, Jan has been a full go for camp. But, he says he hasn’t really gotten taller and that he’s added “maybe some pounds, but not much” to his physique. (Although, Papa Vesely indicated in his interview that his son did add some needed muscle.)
So is Jan ready to dazzle U.S. Wizards fans with promises worthy of a sixth overall pick?
“I don’t have personal goals, I just want to play hard and compete every night,” he said plainly to the American media, as only “Honza” can.
Wizards Work On The Run (Training Camp Day 1)
Jan Vesely gets sore muscles worked on by Wizards trainer Koichi Sato after the morning session of the first day of training camp.
Jan, below, talks about the Czech team (and his buddy Tomas Satoransky) qualifying for EuroBasket 2013 this summer and about the possibility of him playing for his country.
“If I stay healthy, I’d love to play,” said Vesely about suiting up with the Czechs in Slovenia next September.