Pass-first Vasquez focuses on win column

By: Jim Eichenhofer, Hornets.com, @Jim_Eichenhofer

In his three NBA seasons, Greivis Vasquez has learned a multitude of lessons that have helped him adjust to life in the league. Perhaps the best piece of advice, though, came from one of his closest friends, former Memphis Grizzlies teammate Marc Gasol.

“He told me it’s not about individual numbers,” Vasquez remembered. “Point guards are measured by how many wins the team gets. I could average a double-double, but what if we have a losing season? It doesn’t matter. It’s about winning.”

Gasol received a direct benefit from the Grizzlies emerging as a contender in 2012, earning his first-ever selection to the NBA All-Star Game as a center for the Western Conference. Although from a team standpoint New Orleans struggled to a 21-45 overall record last season, the Hornets were a competitive 12-14 in Vasquez’s 26 starts. Several of NOLA’s role players performed better with Vasquez on the floor, earning the 6-foot-6, 211-pounder praise in the locker room for his ability to set up teammates for high-percentage shots.

“He has a really, really good feel for the game,” praised Hornets power forward Lance Thomas, who calls Vasquez the NBA’s most underrated player. “I feel like he could adapt to any situation. He’s not the most athletic player, but he does so many other things so well that you don’t even notice that. He has great court vision and is a very selfless player.”

The native of Venezuela finished 20th in the NBA in assists per game (5.4) in ’11-12, despite coming off the bench 41 times and barely playing half of each game (average of 25.8 minutes).

“I have to lead this team,” he described. “I’m not here to score 40 points a game. I’m here to make my teammates better, to distribute the ball and control the game.”

In the Hornets’ preseason home opener, Vasquez went 0-for-5 from the field, scoring just one point. Sounds like a frustrating, forgettable night for the 25-year-old, right? Think again – he dished out 11 assists, helping every other New Orleans starter reach double digits in scoring, highlighting a blowout victory. He’ll gladly take that result every night.

“My goal is to get everyone involved,” he said. “My game is to improve my teammates and put them in a great spot to succeed.”