Maybe not underrated, but certainly worth keeping an eye on.
Despite his stellar career at the University of Maryland, Greivis Vasquez was not considered a top prospect when the Memphis Grizzlies drafted him 28th overall in the 2010 draft.
His first year in the league was remarkable for being unremarkable. He averaged only 12 minutes per game, though his per-36 minute stats (10.4 points, 3.1 rebounds, 6.3 assists) hinted at the well-rounded offensive approach he has taken as New Orleans’ starting point guard.
So far this year, Vasquez has delivered on the promise he showed at Maryland.
He average 9.4 dimes per game and is leading the league in total assists — 478 compared to Russell Westbrook’s 412. As New Orleans’ young roster continues to improve, I would expect his per-game assist numbers to improve (particularly if Austin Rivers develops into something other than an offensive black hole). Factor in his 14.8 points per game, Vasquez has become a genuine double-double threat who can score from both the paint and the perimeter (2012-2013: .522 FG% at the rim, .365 3pt FG%).
More importantly, Vasquez has shown an ability to to modify his approach as he has taken on a greater role facilitating the Hornets’ offense.
Originally drafted as a shooting guard, Vasquez took approximately 30 percent of his shots from mid-range during his sophomore season. The mid-range jumper is widely considered the least efficient shot in basketball, and that certainly applies to Vasquez, who has hit only 41 percent of his mid-range attempts this year, and 43.2 percent the year before that (I’m defining mid-range has anywhere from 10 feet outside the rim to the three-point line).
Thankfully, Vasquez’s improved efficiency from beyond the arc has led to a greater number of three point attempts per game — 3.1 this season compared to 2.0 in 2011-2012 — and that development has come at the expense of his mid-range attempts. Only 19.9 percent of Vasquez’s shots have come from mid-range this year, compared to 29.6 percent in 2011-2012.
Although his greater reliance on the three point shot has led to a decline in his true shooting percentage, his effective field goal percentage — which takes into account the value of 3pt attempts made over 2pt attempts made — has increased by 10 points over last season.