Jan is Not Made of Klay! Coping With Vesely on the Wizards
[On top of the 2012-13 season review of Jan Vesely by TAI's Lukas Kuba, I provide some thoughts on how to cope with his presence on the Washington Wizards amidst at least one would-be scenario.]
On the first go-around with Jan Vesely, the aim was to disassociate him with the fact that he was the sixth overall pick (at least that’s how I coped). Vesely was already on the team, and he was drafted exactly with John Wall in mind.
The Wizards went with an athletic, defensive-minded, running, dunking role player with their high pick one year after making Wall the face of the franchise. Vesely was a project for sure, but one that promised to be part of the equation.
Then Klay Thompson happened.
The tall, rangy guard was one of the best shooters in the 2011 draft, and at over 6-foot-7 in shoes with a 6-foot-9 wingspan, what was not to like? (OK, so Nick Young was 6-foot-7 with a 7-foot wingspan… Who cares? So what?) Son of an ex-NBAer, Mychal Thompson, Klay also spent three years at Washington State—very in-tune with Ted Leonsis’ rebuilding M.O. of drafting more mature players. Would it have been better to put a more offensively skilled player next to Wall?
Problem is, this:
At the time, the Wizards weren’t looking for a shooting guard because the team was still developing Jordan Crawford and Nick Young was about to become a restricted free agent. Crawford and Young are both already gone.
That’s from a recent article on the ‘what if’ connection between the Washington Wizards and Thompson’s Golden State Warriors by the Washington Post’s Michael Lee.
But—there’s always a ‘but’—most knew that Nick Young was a dead-man walking and likely only to receive a qualifying offer, and no one will honestly claim that the remaining laurels rested on Jordan Crawford. Bad by design, huh?
Some have recently asked if you’d rather have Stephen Curry and Klay Thompson, or John Wall and Bradley Beal. Tough call. Some might ask if you’d rather have Wall, Thompson and Harrison Barnes, or Wall, Beal and Vesely—that’s the more legitimate possibility, and perhaps not so tough of a call.
But all the ‘what ifs’ aren’t appeasing Wizards fans, and they for damn sure ain’t improving Jan Vesely’s confidence.
Confidence is all that matters for Vesely at this point, and you wonder what the Wizards did to evaluate Vesely’s beforehand and what they are doing about it now. Vesely seemed to arrive in the U.S. chock-full of confidence, kissing his girl under the bright lights of national television and referring to Blake Griffin as the “American Jan Vesely.” What had happened? Vesely is still best known for that kiss.
After the M.V.M. (Most Valuable Mention) of overall team health by each Ernie Grunfeld and Randy Wittman in their season-ending media sessions was the word “confidence” when it came to Jan Vesely.
Certainly prompted by the media, certainly prompted by Vesely’s self-realization, certainly prompted by A.J Price saying this:
“I’ve heard him out of his own mouth, he doesn’t like to go to the free throw line. Just because everybody is watching. It’s just a confidence thing. So you know exactly what the issue is with him. It’s just up to him to find that peace or that confidence.”
Price went on to express his belief that confidence would come for Jan, but he didn’t make any promises. Vesely shot 53.2 percent from the free throw line as a rookie, 30.8 percent last season. It was truly a misadventure, every time.
Jan Vesely will never be Klay Thompson—you’d rather have Bradley Beal, anyway. In the long-run, it’s a relatively airtight case. Vesely might never live up to the generalist’s expectations of a sixth overall pick, either. Continue to indict Ernie Grunfeld if it helps you cope, but it’s still in the best interest of the Wizards for Vesely to excel.
That confidence is a revisionist property. Price probably knows from where he got his own confidence, but he can’t help Vesely find his. If boy-Honza ever does find confidence, forget about his forgettable history, because Vesely’s still got the athletic ability, love for the game, team mentality, and beyond scratch-of-the-surface skills to be the darling of dunking role players.
Then again, confidence separates men from boys, haves from have-nots, contributors from disappointments. And so far, Vesely has been nothing but the latter.
-Kyle Weidie (@Truth_About_It)