The crowd at the Verizon Center roared as No. 24 soared in for one of his electrifying dunks that made him one of the top European prospects to enter the draft this past year.
After a long hiatus thanks to the lockout and a minor injury, Jan Vesely has made his presence felt in short bursts of playing time since making solid contributions in the Washington Wizards' first win over the Toronto Raptors back on Jan. 10.
His hustle plays on both ends have ignited a spark in his teammates whenever he steps onto the court, earning him the appreciation of Wizards fans as well.
While fellow forward Andray Blatche has been criticized for being lackadaisical on defense and soft on offense, Vesely has been the exact opposite.
Over the summer numerous draft profiles touted Vesely as a hard worker with a penchant for athletic feats unseen in most European talent. However, there were concerns his body was not big enough to combat NBA-sized power forwards and centers and that the Wizards had most likely drafted another project big man who may take several years to mature—if he ever goes.
While these concerns are not to be alleviated completely based on such a small sample size, Vesely has been better than advertised on defense while showing an extremely high basketball IQ, making plays for others on offense.
Foul trouble has been the main concern for Vesely, looking at the Denver Nuggets game where he committed three quick fouls during a span of less than three and a half minutes.
If Vesely can continue to play aggressive defense while staying out of foul trouble, head coach Flip Saunders will have no choice but to keep him on the court for longer stretches.
In a season where there has been little for fans to cheer for, the infectious energy that Vesely infuses into the team is reason enough to prove he deserves to mature and grow as a player now rather than sit on the bench and become another failed European project for the Wizards.
As the top pick of last year’s draft, Vesely is shaping up to be a major factor in the positive culture change for the Wizards that management and fans alike have been hoping for to surround John Wall for the future.
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