[Jan Vesely works on his shooting form with Flip and Ryan Saunders. - photo: K. Weidie]
Many folks are naturally a bit more curious about Jan Vesely than others on this Wizards team, and that includes the likes of John Wall, Jordan Crawford, Andray Blatche and JaVale McGee. Reason being, not many have seen the sixth overall pick of the 2011 NBA Draft in a setting outside of his role as the “Dunking Ninja” on YouTube. They want to know if he’s up to NBA snuff.
The fair warning is that expectations of Vesely should be immediately tempered. This is not to discourage potential, nor preemptively quell disappointment. It’s just that there are a myriad of factors as to why Vesely’s integration into a pro basketball team in the nation’s capital will take some time. And that’s okay. We might see a bodacious dunk or two early on, but it also might take 10-15 games (about a sixth of this shortened season) before we see Vesely truly comfortable on an NBA court. Until then, feel free to remain confident in the scouting of Vesely performed by team management which led to his draft selection. He’s got the tools, he just needs to learn how to hammer.
Sabermetrics. They have been a continous hot topic of conversation in modern sports circles, recently sparked (and fueled) by Jonah Lehrer’s Grantland column, The Math Problem. Lehrer argued that while sabermetrics — the computerized measurement of statistics, in this case basketball data — can be extremely useful at times, the allure of definitive measures of production leads us to ignore the oft-underrated intangibles. Worse, the popular obsession with quantifiable sports values has resulted in shortsighted personnel decisions. The horror!
But this post isn’t about the great paradox of sports statistics nor whether dismissing math in sports is the right call. It’s about how Washington Wizards 2011 draft pick Jan Vesely played on paper — was he a slam dunk in Europe or something less spectacular?
Our friendly neighborhood basketball statistician, ESPN.com’s John Hollinger, has determined that there is a predictable relationship between how a player performs in the Euroleague and how he will compete as a rookie in the Association. When transitioning to the NBA, a Euroleague player’s pace-adjusted per-minute stats will be affected as follows: Read more »
“Basketball in my country is not so popular, but after this night, I think — I hope, that the basketball will be more popular. I will do my best to help that.” -Jan Vesely, Draft Night 2011
Jan Vesely wants to put Czech Republic basketball on the map. Good luck.
“The Czech media have been really lame covering the story,” direct-messaged Yon Pulkrabek via Twitter. I’d sent out a tweet wondering if any follower spoke Czech, and the instant world of the Internet connected us.
Pulkrabek says he’s lived in Prague permanently for the past decade, working as a translator, journalist, and editor. He grew up in upstate New York to Czech émigré parents and has been a fan of the Boston Celtics since the 1980s, keeping up with their recent success thanks to League Pass, streaming web video and his DVR. Now, Pulkrabek has taken an obvious interest in the Washington Wizards.
The basketball world knew who the Washington Wizards were going to select with the sixth pick in the NBA Draft well before David Stern took the podium.
The Wizards, longtime fans of Jan Vesely since his emergence on the international scene in 2009, had considered selecting him in last year’s draft, before he decided to return to his Belgrade-based club Partizan for another year. And on draft afternoon, the paper trail spoke louder than ever. The Wizards’ sales department had invited staff members from the Czech Republic embassy to the team draft party in downtown Washington.
Now, while the selection might not have mystery, the player certainly was. To some extent, Vesely was misrepresented—even undervalued—having been surrounded by the popular, though incomplete, rhetoric from just a handful of available scouting reports and YouTube highlights. But the wing from Ostrava, Czech Republic, who has played basketball professionally since he was 16 years old, was the perfect pick for the Wizards. But you don’t have to take my word for it, consider head coach Flip Saunders’ review: Read more »
By now, via the quick courtesy of Dan Steinberg and other Internet denizens, you’ve heard about (and have likely seen), Washington Wizards sixth overall pick Jan Vesely jump up and passionately kiss his girlfriend after being selected in the NBA Draft on Thursday night, as I can only imagine someone from the Czech Republic would do. (And if someone has video of fellow NBA Czechs Jiri Welch and George Zidek kissing their girlfriends on their respective draft nights in 2002 and 1995, please do share.)
In the video below, Jan and Ms. Eva herself (last name Kodouskova — see if you can pronounce it correctly before watching), discuss each other and the now semi-famed kiss. The whole affair just might be worth another kiss.