Player Profile: Greivis Vásquez – The Journeyman

After their offers sheets for Tyler Johnson and Allen Crabbe were matched by their original teams, the Nets needed a plan B. They executed it by signing Greivis Vásquez to a $5 million, one-year deal. Vásquez is a combo guard whose value has plummeted after suffering an ankle injury that saw him play only 23 games with the Milwaukee Bucks last season. From the Nets’ standpoint, this makes sense – they’re biding time until the 2017 free agency class comes along. As for Vásquez, he’s probably itching to prove he can still be a valuable contributor in the NBA.

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Greivis Vásquez made a name for himself while playing for the Maryland Terrapins. Following a relatively quiet first two years with the Terps, Vásquez exploded in his junior year, recording a triple-double in an overtime win against North Carolina and becoming the first player in the school’s history to lead the team in points, rebounds, assists and steals. While the NBA scouts were suitably impressed, he decided to return to Maryland and play out his senior season. As arguably the best guard in the ACC, Vásquez averaged 19.6 PPG, 6.3 APG and 4.6 RPG with the Terrapins. Along the way, he became the only player in ACC history to register 2,000 points and 700 assists. In the 2010 NBA draft, he was selected 28th overall by the Memphis Grizzlies.

After a stellar four years in college, it seemed like Vásquez was poised to become a star in the NBA. However, most of his potential went unfulfilled. Up to this point of his career, Vásquez has been the definition of an NBA journeyman, having gone through five clubs during his seven years in the league: Memphis Grizzlies, New Orleans Pelicans, Sacramento Kings, Toronto Raptors and Milwaukee Bucks. In his second year with the Pelicans, he seemed like he was ready to step up. He started in all 78 games he played in, averaging 13.9 points, 9.0 assists and 4.3 rebounds per game. He finished the season as the league’s assist leader and came second in the voting for the Most Improved Player. As it stands right now, that season might have been a one-year wonder for Vásquez. His performances upon leaving New Orleans Pelicans were decidedly less impressive.

Whether it was in college or in the NBA, Vásquez has shown he can be a good floor general. He can slow down the tempo, doesn’t succumb to pressure and makes the right play most of the time. His superior size (6’6”) allows him to tower over his defenders and create scoring opportunities for his teammates. Though his slow first step limits his options somewhat, he is very adept at running pick-and-roll. He is also a crafty shooter, more than capable of scoring from the perimeter or pulling up in transition. If his shots are not falling in, he knows when to stop forcing the matter and start focusing on other aspects of his game. By all accounts, Vásquez is a high-character guy who won’t be a problem in the locker room.

Greivis Vásquez biggest issue remains his slow footwork and poor mobility. He struggles to contain speedy point guards well-versed in the slash-and-kick style of play. Whenever the team’s defense is compromised, he becomes very vulnerable on the perimeter. Also, his shooting has been somewhat inconsistent lately. In those 23 games with the Bucks, he averaged 32.6% from the field and 24.7% from the three-point line – by far his worst percentages since he arrived in the NBA.

In the Brooklyn Nets, he’s likely to be a backup point guard to Jeremy Lin. At this point, Vásquez is a proven commodity in the league capable of providing a spark coming off the bench. The Nets need some veteran presence and a guy who can create for himself and his teammates while Jeremy Lin is resting, and Vásquez has shown he can do that at a high level throughout his career. The Nets fans probably don’t need reminding that their team had the fifth-worst offense in the NBA last season.

If Vásquez’s stint with the Bucks hadn’t been cut short by an injury, the Nets probably wouldn’t have been able to afford him. As it is, the one-year deal holds little risk for either party. In addition to proving he can still play in the league, Vásquez will be hoping to earn a multi-year deal in the next free agency. Considering the salary cap will spike even further, it’s hard to imagine Vásquez will lack motivation while playing for the Nets.

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