I want to love Greivis Vasquez. Of course it's tongue-in-cheek when I call him "The General", but the Raptors are a more fun team when Vasquez is doing well. The way I evaluate him will never be free of bias after reading this story by Bruce Arthur about GV's time in Maryland.
How can you NOT love Greivis? He runs about as fast as I do, has as little muscle mass on a professional athlete as I've ever seen, but when he's on, he'll drop 25 in your mug and make sure the entire arena knows about it, home or road. Whether he's shooting 1-for-10 or 7-for-9, he'll have no shame and lack no confidence in taking a contested 3-pointer to tie a game late, and shimmy his way back to the bench like we were stupid to question him. So, so stupid. Greivis Vasquez is the embodiment of this version of the Raptors, hate it or love it.
Away from all the histrionics, there's actually a useful player in there. Although he'll never let you forget, here's a reminder: Vasquez led the entire league in assists in 2012-13. After taking to his bench role very well in his first season with the Raps, fitting in alongside a ball dominant guard Lou Williams proved to be a bit of a challenge this year. The struggles were compounded when Kyle Lowry's injury pushed Vasquez into the starting lineup for 20+ games. Overall, his numbers stagnated across the board, while being given more minutes.
82 Games (29 Starts), 24.3 mpg, 95 ppg, 40.8 FG%, 37.9 3FG%, 75.8 FT%, 2.6 rebs, 3.7 asts, Net Rating +2.5
January 28, 2015 vs. Sacramento (119-102 Win)
After going through a bit of a rough patch at the turn of the year, the Raptors were going for their 4th straight win at home against the Kings. Remember, this was when Terrence Ross had been replaced in the starting lineup in favour of Greivis Vasquez. GV rewarded the faith by putting in his finest performance of the year. He played a perfect foil to Lowry in the starting lineup, pouring in 18 points on 7-9 shooting, 4-5 from 3, and chipping in with 6 assists as well, as the Raptors ran away from the Kings 119-102.
January 4, 2015 @ Phoenix (125-109 loss)
As I alluded to earlier, the Raptors hit their first rough patch of the season in the late December/early January range. The Phoenix loss came on the heels of a blowout loss at Golden State. (That west coast road trip is an annual killer.) While two of the Raptors' bench players put in productive shifts for a cumulative +/- of +19, Vasquez almost undid that work by himself with a -15. He shot 0-6, 0-4 from 3, had 3 turnovers and 4 fouls in 22 minutes. Ugly.
Strengths & Weaknesses
+ Improved outside shooter; struggled from 3 for his first three years but is very dependable now
+ A good creator on the ball when he's in distribution-mode. Once led the league in assists.
+ Can play 1 or 2. Has size, length and mentality to handle playing shooting guard in a pinch. Affords roster flexibility
- Can only be relied upon situationally. Too much of a chucker (shot 40 percent this season).
- Gets destroyed on defence by quick guards.
Role Next Season
I'm split on where I see Greivis fitting in next year. The Raptors need depth on the wing and front court severely. (Stop me if you've heard this before.) While Lou Williams is more of a 2 than a 1, having them on the court at the same time means that minutes for guys like James Johnson are hard to come by at the wing. Preferably, one of Lou or Vasquez departs this offseason, so as allocate minutes in a more conventional manner across the backcourt and wing spots. In 2013-14, Greivis had a more defined role, which let him play a more controlled, efficient (slightly) offence. It felt like he was pressing and out to prove something this year. Given that he'll be in a contract year, that could be a good or a bad thing. Vasquez is undoubtedly a useful player in the right system. But you can't transform your system to fit a guy like him. Hopefully, the Raptors can rediscover the balance that made GV effective.