Greivis Vasquez is one of the best kept secrets in the NBA.
I was familiar with him prior to his NBA career as the starting point guard for the New Orleans Hornets. Vasquez played four years as the starting point guard for the Maryland Terrapins. During the 2008-2009 season, Vasquez had a triple-double against the national champion, North Carolina Tar Heels. Maryland won this game. This game was one of only four losses for the Tar Heels that season. Vasquez was pretty much unstoppable. Vasquez was also the 2010 ACC Player Of The Year in his last season at Maryland.
At 6’6″, 211 pounds, Vasquez is a terror for small point guards. He is a pure point guard, that can score at will. If he did not play with Anthony Davis, Ryan Anderson, Eric Gordon and Robin Lopez, then he would average well over 20 points a game. Currently, Vasquez averages 13.9 points, 9.4 assists and 4.6 rebounds a game.
When he began his career as a rookie in the NBA, Vasquez was on the roster of the Memphis Grizzlies, and actually backed up the current point guard at Memphis, Mike Conley, Jr.
Let’s fast-forward to 2013. Conley is currently averaging 13.3 points, 5.9 assists, 2.4 rebounds and 2.2 steals per game. These statistics are not bad, but keep in mind that Conley played alongside three all-star caliber players in Rudy Gay, Zach Randolph and Marc Gasol. Barely averaging six assists a game with this set of teammates is not good in my book.
Don’t get me wrong. Conley is a good point guard. However, there is huge difference between barely averaging six assists with all-star players as teammates compared to someone who almost averages 10 assists a game playing with no all-stars.
This boils down to the title of this column. Memphis made a mistake by letting Vasquez go. In my opinion, they did not realize the kind of player that he was. In his second NBA season, Vasquez doubled all of his statistics except blocks. Now, Vasquez is on the cusp of leading New Orleans back to the playoffs, whereas Memphis is trying to find their identity after shipping Gay to Toronto.
We can compare Vasquez’s stats to Conley’s stats all day, but one thing we should be able to agree on is that Vasquez makes his teammates better on a scale that is greater than Conley’s.