By Shaun Ahmad
The final effects of the NBA lockout are yet to be seen, but there are several probable projections. Older teams have received more rest during the summer and fall, but will be faced with the challenge of playing several games on consecutive nights. There might be a lack of cohesiveness with the condensed preseason. Young teams could end up with a better record than their talent, simply winning with fresher legs.
Rookies, as they often are, were left out of the discussion. It bears questioning what impact does the lockout have on the rookies in their debut seasons? And to take it a step further, what impact does it have on a rookie coming from Europe to a new country and a new style of play.
Enter, Jan Vesely, rookie small forward for the Washington Wizards out of the Czech Republic. Vesely is loaded with immense versatility and sheer raw ability. Unfortunately, the Wizards' training staff and coaches haven't had enough time if any to work with him in the offseason to get him acclimated to the very different style of play in the States.
Vesely's skill set has yet to be defined. He is not a scorer. While playing in Europe, he rarely, if ever would score off of an isolation play. The bulk of his scoring came off of cuts and put-backs, indicating that his athletic ability would put him in suitable positions. But to succeed at the small forward position, raw athletic ability will mean little against the likes of Carmelo Anthony, LeBron James, and even closer to average forwards like Caron Butler. In the interim, he will have to find minutes wherever he can and count on his undeveloped abilities to contribute with hustle and energy.
This is, however, precisely why the lockout will have had an adverse effect and stunted the growth of Vesely. It will take him time to work into the rotation. How long it takes is yet to be seen. With less days available for practice due to the shortened season, it might take the entire year before he begins to find his footing.
How Washington approaches his training, conditioning, and grooming for the small forward position won't be the biggest storyline this season, but will certainly have an impact in how far the team can go in the next couple of years.