After a disappointing season last year, Greivis Vasquez was labeled as the dreaded “life-long backup point-guard” (which I guess really isn’t that dreaded because your still getting paid upwards on 2 million dollars to sit on the bench). The expectations for Vasquez coming into this season were low, to say the least. I talked to a few Hornets fans back in October that said they were “petrified” of the thought that he would be the number one playmaker on the Hornets with Gordon sidelined until mid-season.
The confidence in Vasquez was not only low from the fan base, but also from the organization. Back in April, the Hornets went out and drafted Duke’s Little Doc Rivers (sorry, I mean Austin Rivers) with the 10th pick of the draft. You could argue that this was more of a “best available” pick, but the Hornets were obviously enticed with the thought of an Anthony Davis-Austin Rivers pick and roll offense for years to come.
Well, Vasquez refused to get accustomed to being in a backup role on this Hornets team, as he came into this season hitting on all cylinders. The improvement he has shown this year is both in the statistics and his newfound leadership role.
Discounting his rookie year in Memphis, where he only averaged 12 minutes per game and was not in a great situation for him to develop as an NBA point-guard, let’s take a look at his key stats from last year compared to this year’s in bar graph form (prepare to be amazed by the beauty of this bar graph):
*Bows from the display of beauty that was shown in that bar graph*
The numbers that jump out at me the most are the MPG, PPG, APG and 3P% that are all new career-highs. The jump from 8.9 PPG last year to 13.9 this year are huge for Vasquez and the Hornets (I think that’s what their name still currently is, or it could be some stupid bird’s name, I’m not sure). Also, the APG is up to 9.4 from 5.4, which I believe is the most impressive improvement in Vasquez’s game. The 3P% and RPG are also up which shows the impact that he has in all aspects of the game, showing his all-around skills. The one concerning stat is that his TOV are up from 2.2 to 3.4, but that could be a result of his MPG going up around 9 minutes. His TOV% (which is an estimate of turnovers per 100 plays) is down to 19.4 from 20.5, which levels this concern.
Of course you can interpret these stats how you would like, whether that is saying his stats were down last year because of the shortened season, or the tough situation New Orleans was in. But overall, the jumps in these numbers do show improvement that cannot be argued.
Along with the improvement he has displayed on the court statistically, his leadership role has filled a void in a relatively young Hornets team. At The Hive’s RedHopeful recently wrote in his mid-season review (which he gave Vasquez an –A for the first half): “Aside from the numbers, Vasquez needs to be given serious props for filling the leadership vacuum. He has become the team’s undisputed leader.”
Also to Vasquez’s credit, in December he became the Hornets first Western Conference Player of the Week since Chris Paul in November of 2010.
Seeing Vazquez play this year compared to last, he looks like a completely different player. Sometimes stats can be misleading, but after watching Vasquez play on three occasions this year, I am confident in saying that he is definitely in the battle for Most Improved Player for the 2012-2013 NBA campaign and that the Pelicans (ugh, I am still not over how stupid that name is) have a very nice player in their midst for years to come.