Jan Vesely had a rough first two seasons with the Washington Wizards after becoming a phenom in Europe. Vesely had to watch his teammates playing instead of gaining NBA experience himself. However, struggles didn't take away Vesely's desire to stay in the NBA for as long as he can.
The sixth pick of the 2011 NBA Draft had a productive summer as he had a few big moments in Summer League, where Vesely averaged 11.6 points and 6.8 rebounds in five games played. Vesely was also getting ready for the upcoming EuroBasket 2013 with the Czech Republic national team.
RealGM caught up with Vesely to talk about the challenges he faces in the NBA, his transition period, the Czech Republic national team and more.
RealGM: First of all, how has the preparation process for the EuroBasket 2013 gone so far for the Czech Republic?
Vesely: The preparation process with the national team has been okay. We work on small things and we have to get them ready throughout the preparation games. I feel excited and happy to be here after not playing with them for four years. Everything was new from the very beginning, but I'm happy that I had a lot of fun. Recently, I didn't receive many minutes and now I'm finally getting a lot of playing time.
RealGM: As you're only 23 years old, do you already see yourself as a leader of this Czech Republic team?
Vesely: Of course, I’ve been playing abroad from since I was 16 years old. I've played outside of my country in Slovenia, Serbia, so I think I've got some experience that I could share with these guys. But we also have two very experienced guys, Lubos Barton and Jiri Welsch, and they help other guys as well.
RealGM: For the upcoming EuroBasket, did you set any specific goals?
Vesely: Every time we try to do our best. We're going from game to game. For now, we have to get ready for the first one. Our goal is to play our game and stay focused.
RealGM: Moving on to the NBA, can you talk about your transition from Serbia, where you were getting a lot of playing time and fans were very devoted to the team, to the States, where things became a bit slower?
Vesely: Coming from Belgrade to the NBA was very tough. But it's life. It's basketball and you have to adjust. I wasn't playing much in the last two seasons, but I would do everything the same way again. However, I was working hard this summer as I was trying to get better and get ready for the national team. Of course, I tried to get more confidence too and I'm ready for the challenge.
RealGM: We hear often how difficult it is for young people from Europe to adjust to the NBA pace, but did you ever imagine that your transition might be that hard?
Vesely: Nobody can expect anything. Coming from overseas, it's very hard for everybody and it's always up to you how you handle it.
RealGM: What are those details that make this transition so difficult?
Vesely: The main thing is that in Europe I was playing as a small forward, and in the NBA I was moved to four position. In summer league, I even played as a center sometimes. So I had to fight with big guys. Coach puts me on the floor, so I have to adjust my game and play for a position.
RealGM: Do you feel comfortable with the decision to put you under the basket?
Vesely: It's very hard as I'm used to running on the wing all the time. It's different, but that's how basketball works.
RealGM: Before the start of the summer league, you were saying that it is going be a place for you to boost your confidence. Did you archive that goal?
Vesely: I think so. I was working hard in Los Angeles for two months. I think it helped me a lot, but at first, I didn't want to go. I was thinking about going or not going, but in the end, I'm happy that I went there. Definitely, after the summer league I feel more comfortable.
RealGM: During your time in the NBA, have you ever received any messages from Europe inviting you to come back?
Vesely: I didn't talk with anybody. My goal remains the same to stay in the NBA as long as I can.
RealGM: Are you excited about the idea that you and another Czech, Tomas Satoransky, might soon be teammates in Washington?
Vesely: I know him from when I was 16 years old and I know that he wants to be in Washington as well. I would be really excited to play together with Tomas. We could hang out and do things together, but it's a hard question.
RealGM: You were talking a lot about your improvement. Could you name a few things you've been working on?
Vesely: First, I have to fight for a position on a team. You cannot change the way you play, you have to play and that's it. What I would like to improve? Everything. In last two years it didn't work so I have to change something.