The Washington Post

Washington Wizards’ Jan Vesely waiting for his opportunity

See how high I jump when I play? (Photo by Chris Graythen/Getty Images)

Jan Vesely has played a total of one minute in the past four games, a total of seven minutes this month and a total of 13 minutes since Jan. 26. He has received a DNP-Coach’s Decision in 10 of the past 13 games and has had to settle for scraps in all of them, except a win over Minnesota on Jan. 25, when he had six points, five rebounds and five personal fouls in 18 minutes.

The sixth overall pick of the 2011 draft, Vesely is having a difficult second season, with most of his early struggles attributed to the absence of John Wall. But since Wall has returned, the 6-foot-11 forward has only been on the floor with Wall for a total of 28 minutes stretched out over six games and none since a 90-second stint earlier this month (The Wizards have actually outscored opponents 52-46 in the very short time Vesely and Wall have shared the floor.)

Vesely wants to play but has accepted his role without complaint. “I’m part of the team, you know. So I just try to stay ready every time the games started,” said Vesely, who is averaging just 2.6 points and 2.4 rebounds this season. “I try to help the team as much as I can on the bench and when I get on the court, just spend my time doing my best to do what I can do right now. And I just keep working hard every day.”

Coach Randy Wittman has settled into a comfortable rotation during the Wizards’ current run, which has subjected Vesely and former opening night starters Trevor Booker and Jordan Crawford to seldom-used status. But Wittman has been known to change his rotation when something isn’t working and has been adamant that he hasn’t given up on any player on his roster.

“You’ve got to stay ready. These days are important. You’ve got to show me, when you’re going through these kind of things, you’ve got to show me that you’re fighting, that you’re working, that you’re not giving into the fact, not feeling sorry for yourself. That’s what I need to see in guys like that,” Wittman said. “We all know, every opportunity is going to present itself for each of those guys, and are you going to be ready?  Or because of how you handled it, are you not?’ ”

Vesely has seen his playing time oscillate throughout the season and faced another difficult stretch in December when he rarely saw the court. The difference, Vesely said, is that the team wasn’t experiencing much success back then. “It’s nice to see the team winning. We started bad and last season was not good. Right now we’ve been winning and it’s fun to watch. The atmosphere in the locker room is different. Everybody is enjoying to be here. That is nice.”

Michael Lee is the national basketball writer for The Washington Post.



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Michael Lee · February 19, 2013