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Former Wizards lottery pick Jan Vesely wins Euroleague MVP award

Jan Vesely

Reminder: When a player flames out in the NBA, that hardly means they aren’t worthy of playing professional basketball altogether. Just ask Jan Vesely, a former top-10 pick who’s time in the league lasted just three seasons before he went back overseas to revitalize his career, a move that’s clearly paid off in a big, big way.

The former Washington Wizards forward was named Euroleague MVP after leading Fenerbahce to a berth in the league’s semifinals, where his team fell to Anadolu Efes on Friday.

Vesely averaged 12.4 points, 5.0 rebounds, 2.4 assists, and 1.4 steals in 24.9 minutes per game this season. He shot a ridiculous 64.8 percent from the field and nearly 80 percent on a team-leading 4.6 free throw attempts per game. While his per-game numbers are hardly eye-popping for American audiences, the European game naturally lends itself to deflated statistics due to its slow pace and emphasis on depth and a more egalitarian approach to offense.

The Czechoslovakia native was the sixth overall pick of the 2011 draft. His most productive NBA season came as a rookie, when he started 20 games at power forward for Washington en route to averages of 4.7 points and 4.4 rebounds per game. Vesely was traded to the Denver Nuggets midway through the 2014 season, his last in the NBA before signing with Turkey’s Fenerbahce.

At seven-feet with long arms and rare all-around athleticism, Vesely would be perfectly suited as a modern-day center in the NBA, where his size, mobility, and ability to finish above the rim would make him a valuable commodity. As he continues racking up the accolades in Europe, though, don’t expect him to come back to the United States any time soon, despite inevitable interest and increasing from many NBA teams.