It's the dawning of a new era in New Orleans basketball, and with so much attention paid to matters off the court this season, I believe it's time to evaluate how our franchise performed during its time on the court. As a result, I want to begin an evaluation of the front office, the roster and the coaching staff and see how they performed, what could happen going forward, and whether or not you approve of their job this season. Without further adieu, the next player we're going to look at is Greivis Vasquez.
#21 Greivis Vasquez, PG, New Orleans Season
Second Season in the league (first with the Hornets) out of University of Maryland, College Park (1 Year, $1.2 Million left on Contract; $2.2 Million team option for 2014)
66 Games, 26 Starts, 8.9 PPG, 5.4 APG, 2.6 RPG, 82.1 FT Pctg., 31.9 3PT FG Pctg., 43.0 FG Pctg., 14.2 PER, 101 Offensive Rating, 107 Defensive Rating
February 1st vs. Phoenix (20 Points, 12 Assists, 6 Rebounds, 1 Steal in 28 Minutes during a 120-103 loss)
Without question my favorite player on this year's team, Greivis Vasquez was acquired by the Hornets exactly two days before the season started for Quincy Pondexter so that he could come in and be the back-up to Jarrett Jack. Vasquez, a terrific college player, was a surprise first round draft pick who really struggled last year in Memphis. But he had a really impressive showing in the postseason for the Grizzlies last year against the Spurs and there was hope that he could come in and be a capable back-up with extended minutes in New Orleans. Vasquez was certainly that.
Vasquez struggled to adjust to his role early on but, after awhile, Vasquez quickly became one of the better players on this Hornets squad. He was one of only three players to play in all 66 games (with Marco Belinelli and Al-Farouq Aminu), he improved in every statistical category this season and the team performed very well when he was on the court. In fact, a lot of the Hornets' most successful lineups were with Vasquez at the point guard position. A big reason for that is that Vasquez is a natural point guard. That's no knock on Jarrett Jack, but Vasquez is a classic "pass-first" type of player who has a very good understanding of the game.
To bring some light to that actual topic,Vasquez had an assist% that ranked among the top 14 at his position. And that was with a usage rate higher than 10 of the people in front of him. He was asked to do a lot and he was productive in his time on the court. Vasquez, also, was a huge catalyst in helping Gustavo Ayon get acclimated to life in the NBA this year. He worked hard in whatever role he was given and performed well considering that his position on the time changed from game to game, it seemed, down the stretch.
It may sound like I'm hailing Vasquez as the point guard of the future but people must understand that there are real limitations with him. He's already 25 years old. He doesn't have ideal speed or lateral quickness to stay in front of guys on defense. He also turned the ball over a lot (averaging over 4 a game the last week or so of the regular season). And, honestly, he isn't a very good outside shooter. But Vasquez was a welcome addition to this squad. You just had a feel that he would run through a brick wall in order to get a victory for this team. And, honestly, who can't appreciate that? He still has work to do to be a better basketball player, but I'm fine with the point guard combination of Jarrett Jack and Greivis Vasquez moving forward.