Sacramento Kings fans are still reeling from an incredibly wild week of action. Losing out on free agents Andre Iguodala and Jose Calderon and then watching former rookie of the year Tyreke Evans take his talents to New Orleans has to be disappointing. But there is a silver lining in all of this.
There is still a lot of red tape to wade through, but it appears that the Kings have obtained 26-year old Venezuelan point guard Greivis Vasquez and two second round draft picks in exchange for Evans. While Vasquez isn’t a household name, he may be a better fit for the 2013-14 Kings than Evans and he didn’t cost the obscene 4yr/$29 million Calderon got from the Dallas Mavericks on Friday evening.
The Kings haven’t had a point guard average nine assists a game; like Vasquez did last season in New Orleans, since Reggie Theus averaged 9.6 way back in the teams first season in Sacramento in 1985-86. And Vasquez’s assist percentage of 44.9 in the 2012-13 season is not only better than any player’s in the Sacramento Kings history, it was second best in the NBA last season to Chris Paul‘s 46.5 percent.
Taken with the 28th selection in the 2010 NBA Draft by the Memphis Grizzlies, Vasquez had a breakout year last season for the Pelicans. He isn’t flashy and he isn’t going to blow anyone away with his first step, but he instantly improves one of the teams most glaring weaknesses – passing.
Evans is clearly a superior athlete, but Vasquez has the court vision and play making skills that the former King does not possess. Vasquez is a true facilitator that will improve the players around him.
In his three seasons in the league, he has improved in almost every facet of the game and showing glimpses of the player he was in college at Maryland. His career-high averages in points at 13.9 and assists at 9.0, show that he is making the adjustment to the pro level. While he isn’t a knockdown long distance shooter (34.2 percent from 3-point range), his steady improvement from both inside the arc and outside are promising.
At 6-foot-6 and 200-pounds, Vasquez gives the Kings a big guard to match with rookie Ben McLemore. You can envision a battle for the starting job with Isaiah Thomas, but clearly Vasquez skill set will help the Kings establish an offense earlier in the game and allow big men DeMarcus Cousins and Jason Thompson the opportunity to thrive, if they work hard to clear out defenders for their point guard.
Defensively, Vasquez is a a work in progress. He is an effort player with strong instincts, but he does not have the raw athleticism that is often needed against the leagues elite guards. Vasquez will also have to learn to play without defensive minded bigmen like Anthony Davis and Robin Lopez, that he played with last season as a member of the Pelicans. He is a player that needs a coach like Michael Malone to hide some of his deficiencies on the defensive end.
Like Evans, Vasquez is an Arn Tellum client. He is entering the final year of his rookie scale contract and has a lot riding on the 2013-14 season. The Kings have the option of extending his contract of allowing him to become an unrestricted free agent next season. At $2.15 million this season, Vasquez is an absolute steal and because of his contract status, Sacramento will have a season to work with him and see if he can duplicate the numbers he put up last season in New Orleans. Evans signed an estimated 4yr/$44 million deal. The Kings saved $9 million in year number one and improved a major weakness.
Vasquez was very impressive last season. He instantly improves the Kings passing game, either as the starter or off the bench. While plenty of Kings fans are going to be unhappy that Evans is gone, they will quickly learn to like this hard working team player.