John Wall knows the Wizards have much to work on
Emeka Okafor led the Wizards in rebounding last season with just under nine boards per game. Right now, the veteran center isn't pounding the paint but rehabbing a herniated disk in his neck. That meant others had to attack the glass in Tuesday's preseason opener against the Brooklyn Nets.
"We're going to have to pick up those nine somewhere," said Randy Wittman following the 111-106 overtime loss.
In this game, it was Jan Vesely to the rescue.
"Jan did a great job on the boards tonight," said Wittman, who started Vesely alongside Nene and Trevor Ariza in the frontcourt. The third-year forward finished with a game-high 12 rebounds including five offensive in 28 minutes before fouling out late in the extra session.
"He was very active. ...That's what he's capable of doing. He did defend, got his hands on a lot of balls, deflections. His activity level I liked."
Brooklyn finished with a 48-45 rebounding advantage. Washington held a 13-10 advantage on the offensive boards.
Opening the game against Brooklyn's Kevin Garnett, Vesely grabbed three rebounds early in the first quarter. His most productive board work came in the fourth quarter with five offensive rebounds, seven overall plus his only basket of the game.
Vesely, who displayed energy throughout the summer at the Las Vegas Summer League and during Eurobasket, did not attempt a field goal against the Nets until the final quarter. His concentration was elsewhere.
"I tried to focus in on doing my thing: play defense and get those rebounds," Vesely said. "I think I did it today."
Offensively, Vesely remains a work in progress. He missed three of his four field goal attempts. The notoriously poor free throw shooter split a pair in the fourth quarter. An attempt to post up Garnett ended with Vesely having the ball swiped.
Still, there was overall progress in areas the Wizards need help for however long Okafor is absent. For a player coming off a dismal sophomore campaign, the good outweighs the bad.
Asked how the team is compensating without Okafor's interior presence, John Wall said, "It's an opportunity for other guys to step up. I think Jan did a pretty good job his first time starting with that group. He just brought a lot of energy and did those little things."