Vasquez Thrives as Hornets’ Lone Point Guard
In the New Orleans Hornets’ first game of the season, starting point guard Greivis Vasquez dished out a career-high 13 assists, which was a good enough performance to inspire confidence in a kid who’s getting his first real opportunity to run a team. What’s he’s done in the two games since hasn’t done anything to change anybody’s mind.
Granted, Vasquez started 26 games for the Hornets last year, most of which came when Jarret Jack was injured, but it wasn’t until Jack was traded in the offseason that it became clear Vasquez would be running the team in 2012-13. In fact, other than rookie Brian Roberts, he’s the only true point guard currently on the Hornets’ roster.
It’s the kind of opportunity young players can only dream about, and Vasquez is certainly aware of what he’s been gifted.
“It’s a good opportunity for me to take advantage of these minutes and keep growing, keep learning,” Vasquez said after a win over the Chicago Bulls that pushed the surprising Hornets to 2-1 on the young season. “It will help me learn the bigger picture at a faster pace, so it’s a really good opportunity for me.”
That’s probably putting it lightly, but whatever the perspective, Vasquez—only 25 years old—is ready to be the kind of leader his team needs him to be.
“It’s running the offense, getting everyone involved,” Vasquez said. “That’s what I do. The scoring will come, but I want to create and make the guys better around me. That’s my job.”
Of course, a year ago the Hornets were struggling mightily, obviously headed for the lottery. This season, they’re off to a hot start despite injuries to Eric Gordon and Anthony Davis, and Vasquez credits past struggles for current successes.
“We went through a lot when I was on the team last year,” Vasquez said. “There were a lot of injuries, and we had to overcome a lot of things. We lost a lot of games, but didn’t get blown out or anything like that. We were in every game, and we’d lose in the last two minutes of the game, so we’re kind of used to that.
“In the meantime, it’s a good opportunity for all the guys to step up, and that’s what this team is all about, taking advantage of these opportunities. There are a lot of guys in this locker room who are trying to prove ourselves, and like I said, it’s a great opportunity for all of us.”
The opportunity for Vasquez, however, extends beyond just getting a starting job after two relatively ho-hum years in the league. He’s one of a record-tying number of international players in the NBA this season, giving the word “opportunity” even more weight.
“I grew up watching this league, grew up watching the Chicago Bulls and Michael Jordan,” Vasquez said. “I grew up watching a lot of big-time players—Tracy McGrady, Allen Iverson—and now all of a sudden, I’m playing in this league and am a starting point guard. That’s a dream come true, sometimes you don’t want to wake up from [it]. But I am awake. I am aware, and at the same time I’m very thankful for this opportunity because playing in the NBA, it’s the best feeling in the world.”
The Hornets are hoping he makes the most of it, and so far through three games he has, scoring 13 points per game in addition to averaging 9.7 assists and 4.7 rebounds. If he maintains that pace, he’ll keep his job as the team’s starting point guard and, all of a sudden, the Hornets will be competitive much sooner than anyone expected. Thanks in large part to the play of Vasquez, they’ve already begun to exceed expectations.