How Good is Greivis?
After greatly outperforming Rivers in the season’s opening months, Vasquez kept hold of his starting spot when Gordon returned about a month ago. And in a season where the Hornets have gained the most attention through the rookie campaign of Anthony Davis and the much-hyped return of Gordon, it’s Vasquez that undoubtedly deserves the most acclaim.
This past Friday, Vasquez recorded his first NBA triple double, putting up 21 points, 12 assists and 11 rebounds in a 111-100 win against the Hawks. His averages on the season: 14.1 points and 9.4 assists. He also recently became the season-leader in total assists, now with 478. Rondo is currently in second with 420, then Westbrook is next at 412.
While the Hornets as a team still have a great amount of work to do in order to become a serious competitor in the West, they can at least take solace in the fact that their trade in December of 2011 was undoubtedly one of their best moves in at least the past half-decade, maybe longer.
Vasquez was selected with the 28th overall pick in 2010 by the Grizzlies. In his four years at Maryland, Vasquez started 123 of 136 games and averaged 16 points, 5.7 assists, and 4.8 rebounds. A 6’6” guard, there wasn’t any question he had the size to make it in the NBA, the main question was whether he was quick enough for the biggest stage. His jump shot wasn’t ever a specialty – though it has definitely gotten better especially in the past year – so at Maryland he relied a lot on inside scoring to bolster his team’s offense.
Apart from a few splashes in the 2011 playoffs, Vasquez was pretty unutilized in Memphis. Then in December of 2011, the team shipped him over to New Orleans in exchange for winger Quincy Pondexter, a trade the Hornets will gladly do 100 times over. That’s not to say that Pondexter hasn’t been a great fit in Memphis. He plays an efficient 20 minutes a game and the team already had their point guard role held down by Mike Conley, so they can’t be too unhappy. But clearly the Hornets came out on top.
At 17-34, New Orleans is lottery-bound once again, but with Vasquez, Davis, Gordon, and Ryan Anderson to build around, there’s a lot to be excited about if a few more of the right pieces come into place.