TBG Player Previews 2016-2017: Greivis Vasquez

Greivis Vasquez
(AP Photo/Kathy Willens)
(AP Photo/Kathy Willens)
(AP Photo/Kathy Willens)

Greivis Vasquez, point guard

2015-2016: 20.0 MPG, 5.7 PPG, 4.0 APG, 2.0 RPG, .326 FG%, .247 3P%, .846 FT%, .435 TS%, .391 eFG%, 23 G

Who is Greivis Vasquez?

Greivis Vasquez is a fine example of an NBA journeyman, as the 29 year-old Venezuelan will be suiting up for his sixth team in his seventh season in the league. He’s generally regarded as a true pass-first point guard, and is more than capable of spacing the floor — he shot 36.8% from deep on 883 attempts between 2012-2013 and 2014-2015 — when he’s healthy. At 6’6, Vasquez towers over much of his opposition at point guard and while that height comes in handy on defense, it doesn’t quite make up for his lack of athleticism.

In 2012-2013, Vasquez handed out 9 assists per game with the New Orleans Hornets, good for third-best in the league, only trailing Rajon Rondo and Chris Paul, so he’ll distribute the ball better than any of the Nets’ options from last season. Additionally, he’s also accustomed to coming off of the bench and leading second units, which is the role he’ll be playing in with the Nets behind Jeremy Lin.

On July 10th, the Nets signed Vasquez to a one-year deal worth just over 4.3 million.

2015-2016 Recap:

Last year represented a lost season for Vasquez, playing in just 23 games due to foot and ankle injuries that required surgery in December. With the Milwaukee Bucks, Vasquez posted career-worsts across the board, and was clearly playing at less than 100% both prior to and after returning from surgery. The Nets have landed a solid point guard if he regains his strength and court vision, something that has, along with his three-point shooting, looked a bit rusty during preseason thus far.

What Did the Pundits Say?

Brian Lewis of the The New York Post spent just about as much time discussing a potential interest in Dion Waiters as he did Vasquez and his fit with the team, saying:

“The 6-foot-6 Vasquez can back up Jeremy Lin at point guard or play in the backcourt with him at times, considering the inexperience of the Nets’ backup point guards (rookie Isaiah Whitehead, injured rookie Caris LeVert and undrafted rookie Yogi Ferrell) and their inability to land a starting-quality off-guard.”

Additionally, Lewis mentions that he’s taken and made “a number of big shots” — including this one — over his career.

James Herbert of CBS Sports added:

“Brooklyn needed another playmaker, and Vasquez can fill that role for a season. He’s not likely to be a part of the long-term core, though, and that’s why this news isn’t particularly exciting.”

What Does Vasquez Bring to the Table?

If you choose to dismiss last season as an aberration due to injury — and we do — it’s fair to think that the Nets will, eventually, get the same Vasquez he’s been throughout his career. He’s a fine back-up point guard. capable of both running an offense and spacing the floor — definitely two skills the Nets lacked in 2015-2016. And, if that isn’t exciting enough for you, Adrian Wojnarowski of The Vertical wrote that Vasquez is a “versatile, mature and poised combination guard.”

Understandably, it’s difficult to mock the move in this regard, despite his poor 2015-2016 and the otherwise lukewarm response. Prior to his lost season, Vasquez had demonstrated the ability to run multiple offenses, often showcasing the ability to learn and execute a game plan through his teammates’ tendencies in short order. That skill will be a boon to a young and relatively inexperienced team and coaching staff, if nothing else.

Vasquez may not be a serious difference-maker, but he’s as trustworthy as a back-up point guard and should keep the team’s offense humming without Lin.

The Vasquez Highlight Theater:

If this is the Greivis Vasquez that’s suiting up for the Nets this year, their point guard duo may well be among the ten or so best in the NBA — and, no, that isn’t as hyperbolic as you may think.

The Bottom Line:

Last season, the Nets’ top lineup by minutes played featured Donald Sloan at the point. Lineups two and three had Jarrett Jack, and, of course, the fourth was Sloan again. Again — the Nets’ point guards were absolutely dire in 2015-2016 — and Vasquez will make a world of difference almost automatically. While Sloan and Jack both shot the ball well at times, the difference between Vasquez and those two as a ball handler and playmaker is tremendous. The fact that the team’s back-up point guard is better than their starting point guards from the prior season is a good sign that the Nets will improve on last year.

Vasquez will not be the difference between the lottery and playoff contention, but he’ll be a steadying presence off the bench, with the potential to see some minutes alongside Lin when his shot is falling.

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