Published November 20, 2014
Jan Vesely is right where he wanted to be all along.
The 6-foot-11 forward from the Czech Republic was the sixth overall pick by Washington in the NBA draft last Thursday — and he couldn't have been more thrilled during an introductory news conference.
"I'm happy to be here," Vesely said Monday. "I hoped that Washington picked me."
He sure showed it, too on draft night. Vesely made some headlines when his name was announced and he passionately kissed his girlfriend Eva on television.
"All the news, nobody knows about the picks on draft night," said Vesely, who wasn't embarrassed by the attention the smooch got. "It was all about the kiss."
With Eva looking on Monday, the 21-year old Vesely was flanked on the dais by Wizards owner Ted Leonsis, coach Flip Saunders and general manager Ernie Grunfeld. Vesely and the Wizards knew a lot about each other because Washington had scouted him for several years.
"This is a very exciting day for us," said Grunfeld, who envisions Vesely as being an ideal fast-break complement for speedy point guard John Wall. "(Jan) fits the mold of the type of players we're looking for. We're looking for players that play hard, that compete, that are team players. He also has a lot of experience."
Vesely averaged 10.3 points and 4.3 rebounds for Partizan in 26 games in the Adriatic League. In Partizan's 15 games in the Euroleague, "The Flying Czech" — the nickname Vesely said was given to him while playing in Serbia — averaged 10.1 points and 3.6 rebounds.
Though he made 71 percent of his shots from the field in Adriatic League games, Vesely said improving his shooting before playing in the NBA was his top priority. Only a 55 percent shooter from the foul line, perhaps Vesely will be able to draw inspiration from another big man: Dallas' Dirk Nowitzki — the NBA finals MVP whom he grew up studying.
"When I was kid, I was watching Dirk, his game," Vesely said. "Now, I'm still watching Dirk."
One season after selecting Wall with the No. 1 overall pick and adding first-round picks Trevor Booker, Kevin Seraphin and Jordan Crawford, the Wizards drafted Vesely and Chris Singleton in the opening round last week. Former Butler guard Shelvin Mack was selected early in the second round.
"We promised that we would quickly rebuild the team using the draft as a platform for that change," Leonsis said. "That's our goal, to build a core of young players who go through the process of rebuilding together. I think the culture of the team will be dictated by these young players."