New Orleans Hornets
With all the talk surrounding the New Orleans Hornets' first round draft picks, many of the returning players have almost become an afterthought. Even Eric Gordon isn't getting as much attention as Anthony Davis and Austin Rivers. But another Hornet will play a vital role in the team's success regardless of how the Austin Rivers point guard experiment works out.
Although all the Hornets stepped up last year and gave their best effort, one player was a particularly surprising contributor. Greivis Vasquez came to New Orleans prior to the 2011-12 season in a trade for Quincy Pondexter. Due to injuries and a youth movement, Vasquez averaged over 25 minutes per game for the Hornets.
I was very impressed with how quickly Greivis Vasquez picked up the Hornets' offense for such a young player. In fact, he didn't join New Orleans until Christmas Eve. But Vasquez played in every game, logged minutes at point guard and shooting guard, and averaged 8.9 points and 5.4 assists per game.
Thanks to the Hornets matching Eric Gordon's contract and Austin Rivers trying to become a point guard, Greivis Vasquez appears be the odd man out. I'm not suggesting that Vasquez should start over Gordon. But New Orleans should start Greivis Vasquez at point guard while Rivers goes through the growing pains of being an NBA rookie.
Nothing would make me happier than seeing Eric Gordon suit up for 82 Hornets games this season. But his injury-prone past makes this is highly unlikely. In the event that Gordon does get hurt, Greivis Vasquez should start at shooting guard. Although he isn't the scorer or athlete that Gordon is, Vasquez would be an adequate replacement.
And even if New Orleans gets a healthy Eric Gordon and Austin Rivers becomes an all-star point guard, Vasquez should be the first substitute for both. I expect Vasquez to average over 20 minutes per game for New Orleans and his statistics should be similar to, if not better than, last year's.
So regardless of how things play out in New Orleans this season, Greivis Vasquez will play a key role in the Hornets' fortunes.
Patrick Michael was born in New Orleans and currently resides in the Big Easy. A loyal New Orleans NBA fan, Patrick was a diehard New Orleans Jazz fan and now cheers for the Hornets. Patrick was in attendance the night the Hornets were one win away from the Western Conference Finals. Follow Patrick Michael on Twitter at patmichael84.
More from this contributorCP3 or C-3PO?