Zeljko Obradovic tried playing Jan Vesely as a power forward early in the season but eventually realized he is at his most effective as a screen-and-dive center. Sometimes one wonders why a player who has such a hard time dribbling and doesn’t always seem to understand the game around him was picked sixth overall in the NBA draft, but then Vesely will from time-to-time make plays at the rim that remind you just how sick an athlete he is. Seems evident at this point how he should be developed from now on.
AT THE RIM
Vesely is a remarkable scorer out of the pick-and-roll in the European game. He’s a so-so screener but opponents have a really hard time defending his runs at the rim. Vesely can play above the rim as a target for lobs and dives down the lane with sort of speed that sucks in attention, potentially opening up shooters around the perimeter. According to gigabasket.org, Vesely converted 70.5% of his 163 shots at the rim in his 632 Euroleague minutes.
That leaping ability is also put to use on offensive rebounding. He has great second jump-ability and a seven-foot-six wingspan (rumored) to rebounding out of his area. According to RealGM, Vesely collected 13.2% of Fenerbahçe’s misses in his 1,421 total minutes on the floor last season – ranking seventh in the Euroleague and ninth in the Turkish league.
Around the rim is also where Vesely is at his most valuable on defense. He averaged 1.9 blocks per 36 minutes, exhibiting decent timing rotating off the weak-side to protect the basket. Due to that sort of impact, Fenerbahçe defended 4.6 points per 100 possessions better with Vesely on the floor in the Euroelague – according to gigabasket.org, and he ranked third in Turkish league in defensive rating – according to RealGM.
He was an average defensive rebounder, sometimes lacking strength to hold position and sometimes relying on his athleticism rather than boxing out consistently. Vesely collected 18.8% of opponents’ misses – a mark that didn’t make a liability but can be considered an underachievement.
DEFENDING IN SPACE
Despite his impact around the rim, Vesely was actually an iffy pick-and-roll. He does get on his stance and is committed but struggles with controlling his momentum when he is asked to drop back, often overplaying the angles and failing to scare opponents from attempting pocket passes. Someone with his length should be able to make more plays in the passing lanes and average more than a steal per game.
Vesely seems like he should be an asset defending smaller players on switches due to his mobility but he is not coordinated enough to defend in space, lacking the quickness in change of direction to keep pace when forced to go from side-to-side.
LACK OF BALL SKILLS
Vesely flashed some decent passing facing the floor out of the low post every now and again, but his ball skills have consistently regressed over time. He made just 56.7% of his 261 free throws, his jump-shooting range is inexistent and his post-up game is just barely functional, even when he is backing down smaller players on switches. Vesely also averaged 1.7 turnovers per 36 minutes, which is quite a bit considering he is not any sort of asset in shot creation.
Editor’s Note: Rafael Uehara is the managing editor of ‘Basketball Scouting’. More of his work can be found here or at Upside & Motor, where he is a regular contributor. He can be followed on twitter as @rafael_uehara