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Achieving Some Balance with Vasquez
Greivis Vasquez has been the source of a good deal of discussion lately in posts, in comments, and in the podcasts.
There are at least two `sides’ here. There is a camp that maintains that Greivis is not starting material on most NBA teams. Another camp contends that he is actually superior to this.
These conversations lead to others like . . . do the Hornets need to upgrade . . . if so, when . . . will the return of Eric Gordon make him expendable or more valuable to the Hornets. . . should the Hornets trade him while his value is high for a player with different skills . . .
I’m pretty sure there’s a camp that just wants those conversations to just stop, or at least change.
After sitting back and watching this for weeks, I’m tossing up an article with how I see the situation, as the Western Conference Player of the Week Award as brought some new weight to the conversation. This is the first time the award has gone to a player for the New Orleans Hornets since Chris Paul won it for the week of November 1, 2010 – November 7, 2010, and indication of Vasquez’s output relative to what has been produced over the past two years.
We will look at what Greivis Vasquez is and is not good at, how he compares to other NBA players getting a large number of minutes, and if he fits on the New Orleans Hornets significantly better than he would on many NBA teams.
The following data was gathered from Basketball Reference, pulled on 2013.01.01 before the games of the day were integrated into the statistics.
We start with aggregate statistics that are not dependent upon minutes played per game.
- Of the 91 players averaging at least 30 minutes per game, 3 players have the worst DRtg (expected number of points allowed per 100 possessions) in the group, which is 112: Greivis Vasquez, Mo Williams, Kemba Walker.
- Of the 91 players averaging at least 30 minutes per game, 19 players have an ORtg (expected number of points scored per 100 possessions) equal to or worse than Greivis’ 101.
- Of the 3 players with the high DRtg above, Greivis has the worst ORtg. Of the 19 players with the low ORtg, Greivis has the worst DRtg.
- Of the 91 players averaging at least 30 minutes per game, 5 players have an ORtg-DRtg difference of -11 or lower: Greivis Vasquez (-11), Alonzo Gee (-11), Dion Waiters (-15), Byron Mullens (-16), and Andrea Bargnani (-16).
- Of the 91 players averaging at least 30 minutes per game, 5 players have a WS/48 difference of 0.039 or lower: Greivis Vasquez (0.039), Alonzo Gee (0.031), Byron Mullens (0.012), Dion Waiters (0.004), and Andrea Bargnani (0.004). Clearly, these are the same players as the net rating detected and in nearly the same order.
- Among these, Vasquez’s 34 minutes per game is the most among these five players. Going up the list, the player with the lowest net rating getting more minutes than Greivis is Ty Lawson (-7 at 35 minutes per game, WS/48 of 0.062).
The above statistics paint Greivis as a lower-level starter at best, or a lower-level player getting starter minutes if you wish.
30m is a nice line in the sand, as Vasquez’s minutes land him 46th among those 91 players . . . so 45 players get more, 45 get less. This also means that Vasquez gets the 46th most minutes per game in the NBA. Of these 91 players, only 2 have played less than 500 minutes: Steve Nash and Baton Rouge’s own Garrett Temple. Only Steve Nash ends up in the comparisons directly (below). Feel free to change 91 to 89 or 90, etc. in article if that seems right . . . the conclusions are not sensitive to this.
This is not the whole story, however. The whole of the offense and defense do not fall on his shoulders no matter how much floor general talk there is. Vasquez is on the floor to do specific jobs, not just generally help out.
- Of the 91 players averaging at least 30 minutes per game, 17 players (none of which are Lillard) have an AST%/TO% ratio exceeding 2. Only 10 players have a ratio higher than Greivis’ 2.228: George Hill (2.261), Jrue Holiday (2.353), Deron Williams (2.423), Kyle Lowry (2.437), Raymond Felton (2.628), Kemba Walker (2.746), LeBron “I’m not a point guard” James (2.966), Russell Westbrook (3.088), Tony Parker (3.313), and Chris Paul (3.383).
- In this list, however, only Kemba Walker, Jrue Holiday, and Raymond Felton have a WS/48 below 0.1 (considered to be the production of an average player in a regulation game). Greivis’ is the lowest in the list until Waiters shows up at 27th.
So, Vasquez is very good at distributing the ball relative to his turnovers. His large assist rate is pointed to by his supporters, while his large turnover rate is pointed to by his detractors. Both are high because he passes more than most guards. Criticisms can be made of who he distributes to, but his overall passing game is effective. This very good skill, in the second tier in the NBA, on a great value contract is nothing to take lightly. However, his tremendous ability here in light of the low level of play among these high-minute players actually makes the rest of his game look that much worse.
- Of the 91 players averaging at least 30 minutes per game, 15 players have a TS% under 0.500. Greivis Vasquez has the highest TS% among these 15 players at 0.499. The other guards on the list are Dion Waiters, Raymond Felton, Ty Lawson, Monta Ellis, Alonzo Gee, and Brandon Jennings.
- Of the 91 players averaging at least 30 minutes per game, 17 players have a STL% of 1.1 or less. Greivis Vasquez is one of these players with a STL% of 1.1. The other guards (at least sort of) are Joe Johnson, Brandon Knight, Aaron Afflalo, J.J. Redick, and Steve Nash.
These are clear weaknesses that feed into the low summary numbers above and to the evaluation of Vasquez as a low-level starter or good backup.
Clearly, Vasquez is capable of very good games and very good stretches of games, as the Western Conference Player of the Week award indicates, and he is skilled at the primary job he has been tasked with, which is distributing the ball, which he does effectively and at a high volume. He’s also clearly passionate, a hard worker, and is focused on doing well in New Orleans.
Also clearly, Vasquez has meaningful holes in his game, being nearly one-dimensional in overall play. It’s unrealistic to expect every player to be at least average in all categories . . . this is actually pretty rare . . . but it is realistic to expect a basketball player getting a large number of minutes to have a few aspects of their game that are above average.
Hopefully the return of Eric Gordon and ongoing coaching by Monty can help Vasquez be placed in situations where he is most likely to succeed until that game develops.
Some quotes from Monty today:
“It is (a nice honor) for the organization and Greivis. I’m sure they threw a parade for Greivis somewhere in Venezuela – he’s such a hero down there. We’re proud of him. He’s worked his butt off. I’m harder on him than I am on anyone else on the team – it’s not even close. To see this kind of recognition is good for the team and good for our young guys, to see that we’ve been through a tough time, but the league recognizes that he’s playing well.”
“I’m tough on him because I think everybody wants to be coached. Guys don’t like to be embarrassed, but they still want to be coached. I don’t want anyone to leave our program and feel like they didn’t get better. I’m tough on everybody. If you really want to be good, (a player perceives it as) coaching. If you’re shallow, it’s criticism. It depends on who you are.”
“He’s got to keep his turnovers down and defend the pick-and-roll. That’s his biggest, if he has any negatives – and we all do – that’s a big one for him. Keep his turnovers down, and knowing when to make the home-run play. He’s a young guy who is still learning, but he’s getting better every day.”
So, Monty echoes the facts above, giving Greivis a vote of confidence while indicating areas of need.
Finally, if he’s such bad overall player, then why is he playing?
- Of the 355 players averaging at least 10 minutes per game, 20 have a DRtg of 112 or less, the lowest being 114. 5 of these players are on the Hornets’ squad: Greivis Vasquez (112), Roger Mason (112), Lance Thomas (112), Austin Rivers (113), and Brian Roberts (113).
- Xavier Henry and Ryan Anderson each have a DRtg of 111, for reference.
See all the Hornets guards? Part of the reason Vasquez is a clear starter on this team is the fact that there are not two guards on this team that offer significant upgrades on defense (a known key for Monty), and Greivis, as noted, is the best distributor among them.
This just reinforces that it’s this situation that is allowing Greivis to thrive.
I think every Hornets fan is happy that Greivis is playing as well as he is and is working hard to get even better, but to say that he will thrive on half the teams in the NBA is unsupported.
The good thing for us and him is that we only need to worry about him starting on this team, even in terms of trade partners since Vasquez has such a small contract ($1.19m this season, $2.15m next season, with a qualifying offer of $3.2m to make him a restricted free agent in the following offseason).
Everyone knows the back court is going to be overhauled, and Greivis is on the inside track to get the job if he can make the adjustments necessary to be the Hornets starter when those improved alternatives are available. Monty is there telling him exactly what he needs to do, after all.
((If you feel that another analysis should be added to this, indicate it clearly in the comments, and I may do the analysis if it seems like a good idea and I have time. The point of this to have a complete look, which I tried to do; if it fell short, I’d like correct that.))
First off who ever thinks this post is bias is looking at it more with their emotions. I get it, I love the way GV plays, but there are obvious glaring issues with his game, and a lot of it is on the defensive end. All I see here is a good article presenting facts. The facts though don't show a passionate player that loves working hard for this organization and above all, right now, that is what the Hornets need until they start competing for playoff spots. At that time we can start swinging. The Hornets have much bigger issues then starting point guard **cough**SMALL FORWARD**cough**. EG is the best wing defender on the team so hopefully a lot of GV's defensive issues will be less glaring as they become acclimated with one another. Put EG on the better wing, etc. He is playing a lot better than any of us anticipated and I would still rather him than Pondexter. And I still want lottery balls this season anyway.
It is important to point out that increase in playing time does not always translate in increase in production. GV has improved tremendously this year and of course whether we like it or not he is getting rewarded with a high amount of minutes because of the poor level of play that the team has showed. The data presented does show statistical proof and a potential explanation of why the team is not winning. As we all know, statistics are only one side of the story and all players’ present statistical inconsistencies in their game. With that being said, defense is without a question one of the biggest problems for the team. However, this cannot be attributed to the presence of one particular player on the court this is a team effort. Factors such as; points on the paint and defensive rebounds have to be taken into consideration. I should add that steals is not a relevant factor, because I remember a player named Allen Iverson that led the league in stills, but took every night off in defense. To conclude, I do not think there are enough tools to make a fear assessment and maybe he would come from the bench on another team. As of today, I’d say yes he will come of the bench if he was with a more competitive team. Also, I’d like to point out the players you refer too play for poor teams and the rest (of the 91 players) are either super stars or surrounded for a better cast. The point has been his improvement, willingness, and resourcefulness when playing the game of basketball. And here added the fact that there is still room to learn the game. You can compare Greivis Vazquez with Jose Calderon, but GV has a lot more potential to grow. Enjoyed the article. Thanks.
gv isnt The perfect Point Guard... But as noted He iS By Far Our Best Option... There Is No Question He Is Our Most Improved Player From Last Season. And His Play Of Late Is Promising... And His Play Should Only Improve As EG Comes Back... He Is Only In His Third Year... StilL On his rookie Contract... Incredible Value I Believe I Have Been The Biggest GV Supporter Around Site Since We First Got Him From The Grizz... I'm Excited About His Opportunity And Watching Him Grow In His First Season As A Starter!
I think Vasquez is having a nice season. I understand the argument and appreciate the article trying to point out both his statistical strengths and weaknesses. I do however think that stats miss some data. He seems to have amazing work ethic and passion to succeed, more then can be said for several starters in the nba on poor teams cashing checks. I think the other hole in the Vasquez haters corner is that 'clearly Vasquez has holes in his game. Being nearly one dimensional in overall play.' Did we criticize Rodman for his lack of offense? Or Kerr for his defensive deficiencies? I think there is power in players specializing in one/two things. Role players! You need two stars on an nba team and supporting cast full of players that may have limitations, but understand and excel in their role. Unfortunately I don't have a better system for evaluating data. I do think however that stats are over rated. Kyrie Irving, James harden, Kobe Bryant, rajon rondo all receive high praise from basketball analysts around the nba...and all of them produce more turnovers per game then Vasquez. Why are they not talking about these glaring holes in there games? This new age way of thinking that everything can be calculated gets rid of the human nature of basketball. Value as a leader, teammate, work ethic, confidence.
I think Vasquez has the passion and is a hard worker, but he is a backup - a great backup, but still a backup - given that he is going up against starters this season, seeing the most minutes of his career, and with less talent around compared to last season, maybe he's finding himself having to do more than he is capable at this point of his career (in Memphis he's never seen real minutes)... Would he fare better coming off the bench next season, seeing about 20-25 minutes, with a healthy EJ and a real SF, a more mature AD?? My answer is yes, it wouldn't expose that much his weaknesses. I would also like to see him stop picking up the dribble and rotate in his pivot foot under pressure until someone desperately runs to hand him the ball back with 10 seconds left on the shot clock, as well as post up more his defender. He's 6-6, and while he has below average lateral quickness against him on defense, he could be a matchup nightmare developing his post game and passing to the cutter off the post (can't deny he's a good passer, the numbers showed it in the post)
If anyone truly believes that any of the writers on this site take joy in seeing the players on this Hornets team perform poorly, they are gravely mistaken and I feel sorry for their inability to view the team from an unbiased perspective. We write for this site due to our love for the NBA and the New Orleans Hornets, and aim to provide our readers with as much analysis as possible to help judge how the team stands right now and where it needs to go. Every fan (writer/reader/commenter) is entitled to their opinion on subject matter, but to think that those who write for this site enjoy attacking the talent level of the players on this team is simply absurd.
Great article, Jason. I have a few questions. If this data is of Vasquez without Gordon, then won't this data not matter as much with Gordon back? Vasquez was drawing the best defensive guard from the opposing team every game and guarding the best guard on offense most of the time. Also, I'm not sure I agree with "Eveyone knows the back court is going to be overhauled" because I think it's set besides maybe one offseason pickup.
It's only been 15 hours, but so far the only real attacks on the article have been fumbling attempts to understand the statistics used, distraction, and name-calling. I'm curious to see what the next few hours will bring. There's got to be something else to say.
According to advanced statistics Greivis Vasquez Wining Shares (WS/48) are 0.64 in 2011-12 and 0.39 in 2012-13, eventhough his PER has increased from 14.2 last year to 15.4 this one. Do you believe he is playing better and contributing lesser Dr. Calmes this year than past year? Remember stat is adjusted to 48min.
do not argue, boys. the important thing is that vasquez is pretty and has played very well. i looove watching him play!!
Just want to point out the rating has a lot to do with the performance of the entire team. The website you pointed out simply calculated the offensive rating as the points per 100 possessions the team score and defensive rating as points scored by the opponent per 100 possessions while a player is on the court. As a result, we see Lance Thomas has the same offensive rating as David Lee, Blake Griffen, Carmelo Anthony. They all score 114.
I will say this for Greivis...I didn't think he belonged on an NBA court. He got a bunch of press while in college and it seemed like a gimmick. He just seemed destined for the Phillipines. let's say a less talented/marketable Jimmer. But for good or ill, he has bought himself seven years or so of NBA salary. I can only attribute that to desire and work. I loved the quotes by Monty, like anyone would be surprised that he was hard on a turner-over prone, no defense PG. But at this point I don't know what the Hornets would do without him. Clearly a more valuable NBA property than Jimmer at this point. Perfect article for the site, this is the kind of stuff you can only get at a local blog. Newspapers can't and won't do this stuff, and the rest of the NBA just wouldn't care. Only us. Great stuff.
This post is biased and seems written by someone who isn't very happy about the honor received by Vasquez. I can only regret that. Apparently there is a morbid pleasure in analyzing the defects of a player who has played hard and honored unquestionably the Hornets' jersey and the Big Easy. Congratulations again, Greivis! While his detractors seek to diminish your success, you improve more and more. But there are a lot of people rooting for you. We are with you! Go Vasquez!!!
Nice to see a comprehensive overview of all things Greivis.. I feel that this has been a long time coming. Good stuff, Dr. Calmes.