Greivis Vasquez knows what’s being said about him. The fourth-year point guard hears the chatter regarding how he’s played so far this season. He knows there are doubters who’ve come away unimpressed with his performance through four regular season games.
“I have to be patient,” the 26-year-old veteran said after practice yesterday of finding his way in Sacramento. “I can’t rush it. I’m not going to change this in a game or two. I gotta do my part and go out there and play hard.”
But Vasquez is accustomed to dealing with skepticism. This is not something novel for the Sacramento Kings’ new starting point guard.
“I’ve been questioned my whole life, man,” Vasquez said to a small group of reporters during media availability Wednesday. “Ain’t nobody thought I was gonna be in the league. Ain’t nobody thought I was gonna lead the whole league in (total) assists. Ain’t nobody thought I was gonna be one of the most improved players last year.
“So it’s a new year, it’s only four games, I’ll find my way.”
Vasquez knows he’s underwhelmed thus far in his new digs. After averaging a career-best nine assists in 34.4 minutes per game last season, Vasquez’s passing numbers are down this year. He’s averaged just 3.8 assists per 25 minutes a contest through one week of action.
Isaiah Thomas’ play hasn’t made matters easier for Vasquez’s situation. The former starting point guard has come out of the gates blazing, leading the Kings in scoring (20.8 points per game), field-goal percentage (49 percent) and 3-point percentage (46.7 percent). Vasquez is well aware that his teammate’s play early this season has caused debate about Michael Malone’s decision to start him over the 5’9 point guard.
Though Thomas may be breathing down Vasquez’s neck for playing time, it hasn’t caused any acrimony between the two teammates. Malone was complimentary of the way the two guards competed against each other all throughout training camp, and Vasquez says that Thomas’ success only motivates him even more to step up his game.
“That gets me hyped,” said Vasquez, applauding Thomas’ early-season showing. “That gets me better. That challenges me to be a better player, and we’re on the same team. When I see him playing against Chris Paul doing what he’s doing right now, that gets me better, man.”
Health has been a factor in Vasquez’s slow start. After offseason ankle surgery, the 26-year-old guard stayed off the court for several months. Vasquez didn’t start playing basketball again until training camp in Santa Barbara. And even then, the Kings limited his practice time, and he only saw action in five of Sacramento’s seven preseason games.
Coming off surgery and playing for a brand new team, Vasquez believes he has yet to show what he’s fully capable of and that he’s still searching for his rhythm. He’s still shaking off rust, which he admits has caused to him overthink his play on the court.
“To be honest man, I can’t even go to sleep sometimes because I want it so bad,” Vasquez said of his desire to play well for his new team.
Through his first week of action, Vasquez concedes that he’s pressed. Instead of letting his game come to him, Vasquez says that he’s forced the issue and that he’s tried too hard to make plays. He’s also feeling a step behind, unable to anticipate plays before they unfold.
“I’m trying to make a play so hard that I ain’t making anything,” Vasquez said. “I’m trying to make the right pass, I’m trying to get us into sets and I’m not thinking about (just letting) me (play) my game. I think if I just be myself, that will be enough to help my team win.”
Vasquez is committed to the process, though. He wants to find his rhythm and his chemistry with new teammates. The veteran guard remains confident that he will, but he knows that a solution to the issues that have plagued him early this season won’t come overnight.
“I don’t think I have to panic yet,” Vasquez said. “I know how committed I am to the team and what I can do for this team. But I’m aware that I’m not playing to my best of my abilities. So I’m gonna pick up my play. I just gotta play.”