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Is Jan Vesely salvageable?

Jan Vesely embraced comparisons to Blake Griffin when the Washington Wizards drafted him in the lottery two years ago. Now, it's an open question as to whether he'll be able to stay in the NBA once his contract expires. Is there any hope for The Airwolf?

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Summer League was a bit of a let down for the Wizards this year. Otto Porter underperformed before coming down with a hamstring injury and Chris Singleton didn't wow anyone with his play. The one silver lining to Washington's 2-3 record was that lottery pick Jan Vesely finally started to show some signs of life.

After spending two seasons alternating between riding the bench and destroying the public's faith in Washington's scouting department, Vesely was actually good in Las Vegas. He deflected passes, made plays with the ball, flashed a decent jumper and rebounded at a good clip. In short, he was everything he was described as in the lead up to the 2011 draft.

If Vesely can build on what he did during Summer League, he'd be a good complement to Emeka Okafor and Nene. Both of the team's veteran big men are a bit undersized and most effective when they play center, so having a long, athletic power forward to slot next to either of them would do wonders for an otherwise weak frontcourt. Porter and Bradley Beal could also benefit playing next to a power forward who's capable of finding the open man.

That's best-best-best-case scenario, though. Unfortunately, hardly anyone has been as bad as Vesely was during their first two professional seasons and then proceeded to do much of note in the NBA.

A quick scan of Basketball-Reference's list of forwards and centers over the last decade who, like Vesely, posted a cumulative Player Efficiency Rating of less than 11 through their first two years doesn't turn up too many names that went on to do big things. The best of this bunch are Glen Davis, Matt Barnes, Brandon Bass, Ekpe Udoh, Kris Humphries, Boris Diaw and Earl Clark. In other words, it would be unprecedented for Vesely to be anything better than the fifth-best starter on a playoff team.

That's not to say that all hope is lost for The Airwolf. Vesely's best attributes are his length and mobility, two strengths that could lead to him being an excellent help defender if he smooths out some of his rough edges. If he can increase his tangible production (i.e. start rebounding and scoring more), he has the potential to be a useful defensive player down the road, especially in zone schemes such as the ones he played in overseas. He also has some of the same strengths and weaknesses as Amir Johnson, a very effective power forward who blossomed into a major contributor for the Raptors once he cut down on his foul rate.

Realistically, though, what we've seen of Jan is likely what we'll get. He's been so bad that, in order for him to turn around his career, he would have to show an almost unprecedented level of improvement. Sure, players have out of nowhere breakout seasons from time to time, but they had usually shown something beforehand. Vesely has struggled in limited minutes, and while the coaching staff's short leash hasn't done him any favors, the flip side is that his bad play has primarily come against other teams' garbage time squads.

Now that Al Harrington is in the mix and Kevin Seraphin is a year older, Vesely is down to his last chance at becoming a contributor in Washington. He'll probably get some burn in training camp, but unless he sustains the level of play he showed in the Summer League, it's unlikely he'll carve out a role for himself.

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