Don't look now, but Jan Vesely may have found his confidence. So far in Eurobasket 2013, the Wizards' forward certainly has found his game.
Playing for the Czech Republic along with Washington's 2012 second-round pick Tomas Satoransky, Vesely leads the entire tournament in rebounding (11.3) and is tied fourth in scoring (18.5). For some context regarding the talent on hand for the tournament in Slovenia, the scorer Vesely is tied with is San Antonio Spurs star and French guard Tony Parker.
The Czech squad evened its record at 2-2 with a 95-79 over Georgia on Sunday behind 27 points and 10 rebounds from a fist-pumping Vesely. On the assumption that many of you didn't seek out the game online, there is video of Vesely taking a lob from Satoransky and overall highlights with the 6-foot-11 forward making an aggressive dunking appearance (about the 1:08 mark). He finished 12 of 14 from the floor. The 27 points came in only 27 minutes.
Satoransky finished with 20 points, seven assists and six rebounds, leading teammate and former NBA player Jiri Welsch to state, "When you put [Satoransky] together with Jan Vesely, you have a killer combination."
Not impressed? In his previous game, Vesely matched up against Spain's Marc Gasol. The Grizzlies' center is on the short list of the big men in the NBA and led Memphis to the NBA's Western Conference final. Gasol's team won this meeting, but finished with only two points in 31 minutes. Vesely outrebounded Gasol 14-10.
Coaches will say playing time corresponds with playing well. Fair enough, but for some athletes, knowing any physical or mental miscue could lead to a benching leads to tentative play. For much of his two NBA seasons, this has been Vesely's situation, especially with the ball in his hands. One of the leading men for his national team, the 23-year-old's role is secure. His confidence, production and swagger are soaring accordingly (though not his free throw shooting. Only 47.6 percent).
Actually, the turn began not in Europe, but rather in Las Vegas where
What any of this means for the 2013-14 season is uncertain. Nene and Emeka Okafor will play 28-32 minutes a night. Kevin Seraphin serves as the primary interior reserve. If healthy, newly signed free agent Al Harrington adds a stretch-four element. The small forward position is jammed. All that eats up most of the frontcourt minutes on most nights and Vesely, Trevor Booker and Chris Singleton haven't played a second.
What any of this means regarding the team's upcoming decision about Vesely's contract for the 2014-15 is intriguing. With Okafor and Trevor Ariza coming off the books, with Bradley Beal and Otto Porter on their rookie contracts, Washington should have solid cap space next summer. Picking up Vesely's $4.2 million option eats into some of the space.
As the No. 6 overall pick in 2011, the Wizards certainly want Vesely to succeed. The franchise is also thinking playoffs which makes it harder for on-the-job training (it was even during last year's 29-win season). Even amid his NBA struggles, Vesely's flashed solid on-court instincts as a passer and as a high-riser in the open court.
No player floundered more last season with John Wall sidelined. So far in Eurobasket, Vesely's performance is that of someone the team would love playing alongside the highly paid point guard.