Still in just his fourth NBA season, Toronto Raptors point guard Greivis Vasquez is learning—and learning from some of the best. To compensate for his minimal athleticism, Vasquez described some of his inspirations, according to the National Post's Eric Koreen:
I see myself like Manu Ginobili. He hits some crazy shots because he’s very crafty — probably with more athleticism than me. You’re always trying to pick up things from different players. Jason Kidd: At the end of his career, he wasn’t the fastest guy. But he was smart. He knew how to play the game. That’s something I wanted to reflect in my game.
Vasquez added Andre Miller to the list of guards who manage to succeed despite lacking elite foot speed. Those might sound like ambitious comparisons, but Vasquez emphasized the extent to which he was still learning the game, noting, "I think I’m going to be the point guard that I want to be in this league eventually."
He has some time, especially playing behind Kyle Lowry in Toronto. At the moment, Vasquez is averaging 8.6 points and 3.7 assists per game, a decrease commensurate with his role being reduced from his days in New Orleans.
While the production isn't entirely there yet, Vasquez has a point in terms of playing styles. Like Ginobili, he has to use footwork to get to the rim and a variety of floaters and crafty layups to finish when he gets there. Even in his prime, Ginobili wasn't going to out-sprint you.
Similarly, Jason Kidd was a master of timing. When he ran the pick-and-roll, it wasn't as a means to dart to the basket. It was run patiently, waiting for plays to develop and options to emerge.
DraftExpress' Kyle Nelson saw the writing on the wall for Vasquez back during his time at Maryland, noting in 2010 that, "though his average athleticism is a significant obstacle, his unique style of play allows him to succeed at the collegiate level."
So far, the same is holding true at the pro level.
Much like Ginobili, Vasquez has also been known to frustrate his coach with his improvisational approach to the game. Per Koreen, "When Vasquez arrived in Toronto in December, Raptors coach Dwane Casey said it took some time to get used to Vasquez’s decisions — that bad shots for others can be good ones for him."
It may take Casey a little more time before he's fully used to Vasquez's enigmatic play. In the meantime, maybe he can help him become a little more like Ginobili and Co.