Leading up to the draft, you got my scouting report on lots of the players I felt the Grizzlies were scouting for #12 pick, but hardly even had a chance to write about the prospects at #28. I wanted big point Terrico White, a Memphis native, but ultimately the Grizz chose to roll with Grievis Vasquez. Here's Pete Fleischer's take on the pick, with a bit of myself mixed in for good measure in the italic paragraphs.
After seeing Greivis Vasquez go nutty when his name was called as the 28th overall selection by the Memphis Grizzlies, a sports fan couldn't help but be happy for the guy. Realizing your lifelong dream is clearly something to celebrate.
But should Grizz fans be excited about the pick? Vasquez certainly has potential. He steadily improved at Maryland, and he's got some skills that might translate well to Memphis' high tempo attack.
Vasquez is a big guard at 6'6'' who's got a nice feel for the game; Chad Ford calls his basketball skills "excellent". His best skill is his passing game averaging 6.3 assists per games a senior. That stat might not stun an NBA fan, but it's actually a fantastic assist number for college ball. For comparison, No. 1 pick John Wall averaged 6.5 assists per game on a loaded squad, Steve Nash never averaged over 6.4 assists at Santa Clara, and both Deron Williams and Chris Paul were in 6 assist range during their final years in school.
Scouts know that Vasquez can pass, but they're concerned about the rest of his game. Vasquez began his career in College Park with really limited shooting range. However, his shooting improved as a senior, when he shot a respectable 36% from beyond the arc. He thrives shooting off screens; Draft Express shows 14.2% of his looks came that way last season. The worry, though, is that Vasquez's limited athleticism will make scoring success much more difficult to come by.
That lack of athleticism is the primary reason Vasquez fell to 28. He's a guy that already struggled athletically in the ACC, so there's the potential for him to completely flop against faster guys in the NBA. Vasquez is a bigger guy, but he's not like Rajon Rondo, who uses his combination of length and speed to get to the hole and stop pressure ball handlers.
I'd compare him more to Shaun Livingston before his horrific knee injury. Greivis plays the game much like a smaller point, but uses his size and length to make tough passes and see the floor. How well will that fit with the Grizzlies? Get over the jump to find out.
As much as I see the Shaun Livingston at times, my take is that Greivis is really a lot more like Jason Kidd. Not Hall of Fame Jason Kidd, though. I'm talking about the fossilized but productive Jason Kidd, that still orchestrates the Mavs offense, but is an immediate liability on defense. Vasquez has the same understated but clever ball-handling, dribbles with his head up and eyes open, but also looks like he's only scoring efficiently if you double off him. Check the highlight reel below to see what I'm talking about.
Dude, you can shoot without it being a floater. Who knows if that will work in the NBA? Antwan Jamison has certainly cashed in on a similar approach, but over he's 3 inches taller. His touch looks fantastic from way up in the key, though, which is a rare skill for a rookie. Will he ever shoot over 40%? Probably not, but neither did Kidd.
The most important thing I see, though, is awareness of his eyes, head, body, and spacing on the court. Vasquez is almost constantly faking, and the threat of his passing clearly keeps defenders on their back foot. That's a skill that should translate to the NBA-level as long as Vasquez remains confident in his game. But if he's nervous at the next level, that part of his game is gone, which makes him considerably less intriguing.
So essentially you're just about guaranteed to be getting a big guard that should pass well and creatively in the open floor.
Then there are the question marks. Vasquez might shoot well. He might be able to use his size to dominate smaller guards. But those are not givens. Vasquez has not proven to be a consistent marksman, nor does his athleticism promise that the NBA guards who are both big and fast won't eat him alive.
To make the most of his size, Vasquez could develop a post game like Baron Davis. However, he didn't do that in four years in the ACC, so it's probably not going to happen against the world's best in the League.
Vasquez's attitude is a red flag, as well. This guy seemed to annoy just about everybody who played against him at Maryland, definitely coming off as an arrogant guy at times, especially early in his career. Remember the Vasquez shimmy, anyone? No, I don't know him personally, but without a veteran point guard to rein him in, you've got to wonder how Vasquez will fit in and grow in the professional ranks.
And yet, I have to admit that the guy has an endearing, dare I say, Joakim Noah-type feel to him. He made the most of a barely average team at Maryland most of his career, willing them to win against much stronger opponents like Duke, North Carolina, and Michigan State. Vasquez was by and large a winner at Maryland, like him or not. He could be the type that's hated by most, but loved by his own team and fans.
Even with the all that winning, I certainly don't understand Chris Wallace's end game strategy. Didn't the Grizzlies just pass on FIVE quality point guards in last year's draft to give Mike Conley more time to develop? Now they take a point guard in the first round after Conley had a somewhat encouraging year in his third season?
Vasquez is actually already older than Conley, and is the type of player who probably won't improve a ton at the next level. I get that Conley needs a quality backup, but did the Grizzlies just consciously draft a backup PG in the first round? I sure hope not.
Pete's right that the Grizzlies certainly got their drafts backwards, with Whiteside as a similar value to Thabeet at 28 this year, and multiple potential All-Star points to choose from at 2 last year. That doesn't mean that taking Greivis at number 28 this season was a concession, though. Draft-day steals come in all shapes and sizes, they don't have to be elite athletes who can't play ball yet or hidden Euros.
Consider the case of Steve Nash or Carlos Boozer, who were both extremely productive college players, but who scouts dropped because they question if they're merely "college players" and weren't big enough, strong enough, or athletic enough to excel in the NBA. Sometimes a winning basketball player just is a winning basketball player, and drafting off years of collegiate success doesn't necessarily mean a player won't improve.
This is the way it should have happened. Flashback to 13 months ago, Mike Conley is coming off a disappointing season in which his minutes go up, but his numbers don't improve much. Memphis could have grabbed a better point to play alongside O.J. Mayo -- Brandon Jennings or Stephen Curry, anyone? -- with the 2nd pick.
Then this June, when the Grizz are staring at numerous high-ceiling project bigs at 28, like Hassan Whiteside and Daniel Orton, they can grab one with no pressure. At the end of the first round, there is low risk, so you draft for high reward.
But if Vasquez somehow sticks, he's a fantastic fit next to O.J. Mayo because he can defend shooting guards. Look at the history, Vasquez could continue to defy all odds and succeed, well, if that's the case, he's a hell rare find for the Grizzlies. Sounds like enough reward for me.
Vasquez is simply not a high risk, high reward player. He's more like average risk, low reward. He might be a decent NBA player, but he almost certainly has no chance of being a great one.
Who knows, maybe Vasquez will grow into a great backup with flashy passing skills in transition and a knack for drawing fouls. But on a team without shooters or frontcourt depth, color me skeptical that this pick was the good value.
- Pete Fleischer