Hickson injury opens door for Nuggets forward Jan Vesely

Denver wants to evaluate athletic big man over season's final month
by Aaron Lopez

Jan Vesely’s casting call is going to begin in front of a familiar audience.

One month after being traded from Washington to Denver, Vesely is in line to play significant minutes against his former team Sunday when the Nuggets take on the Wizards at Pepsi Center.

“I think it’ll be a special game,” he said after practice Saturday. “I was there for 2½ years. I know all the guys on the team. It will be a fun game to play. I’ll do my best to help the team win a game.”

Vesely has averaged 2.8 points and 2.7 rebounds in 10.4 minutes in his 10 games since joining Denver on Feb. 20.

Denver coach Brian Shaw planned on increasing his playing time over the season’s final month as the Nuggets evaluate his potential with the team. The decision made even more sense after reserve power forward J.J. Hickson suffered a torn anterior cruciate ligament on Friday.

“Everybody likes to play and be on the court,” Vesely said. “It’s hard to adjust to a new team. I didn’t get much playing time in Washington, so it’s a little harder to be a coach and give me a chance and believe in me. I’m just trying to work hard and wait for my chance.”

Shaw praised Vesely’s basketball knowledge, athleticism and ability to run the floor in transition. The 23-year-old is still working on his footwork in the low post and mid-range shooting touch.

“He plays within his limitations, which I like,” Shaw said. “He hasn’t had that much of a chance to get out on the floor, but with J.J. being out, we should be able to get a good look at him.”