COMMENTARY | Although Greivis Vasques leads the NBA in assists and he could win the 2013 NBA Most Improved Player Award, many New Orleans Hornets fans are not completely satisfied with their starting point guard. Vasquez lacks the closeout speed of many NBA guards to defend perimeter shots and he doesn't create nearly as many steals as Chris Paul did with the Hornets.
But the biggest complaint that I hear from Hornets fans in New Orleans is the number of turnovers Vasquez commits. In addition to leading the NBA in assists by a wide margin, Greivis Vasquez also ranks fifth in total turnovers. However, for several reasons, Vasquez's high turnover numbers should take nothing away from the incredible season he's having in New Orleans.
The Hornets are the second-youngest team in the NBA. Before the season, New Orleans head coach Monty Williams said that he would be scaling back the Hornets' offensive playbook by 40 percent because of his team's inexperience. As Vasquez and his New Orleans teammates grow and develop cohesion, there are bound to be growing pains.
Another factor beyond Vasquez's control that has contributed to his high turnover numbers is Monty Williams' bizarre rotations. Knowing that the Hornets won't be in the playoffs this season, Williams has treated his rotations much like a mad scientist treats chemicals. Given New Orleans' different lineups, rotations, and fluctuations in minutes played, it's a miracle Vasquez doesn't have more turnovers.
Of course, the standard by which Hornets fans judge Greivis Vasquez is understandably high considering whom he's following at point guard in New Orleans. I similarly feel sorry for the Saints quarterback who will take over for Drew Brees later this decade. But a brief look back at Chris Paul's tenure in New Orleans shows that he had similar issues with turnovers.
The last time Chris Paul led the NBA in assists with the Hornets (as Vasquez is doing this year) was 2008-09. That season, Paul also ranked seventh in the NBA in turnovers with 231. With 174 turnovers through 52 Hornets games, Greivis Vasquez is on pace to commit 274 turnovers this season. Considering Chris Paul did not have to deal with any of the aforementioned issues in New Orleans that season, Vasquez is holding up well against the gold standard.
Another factor to consider is that most of the NBA players who are among the league leaders in turnovers are outstanding players. When the ball is in your hands a lot and you're trying to get your teammates involved in the offense, occasionally turnovers happen. Look at the star power on this list.
2012-13 NBA Top 10 in Turnovers (through 2/12/2013)
1. James Harden: 200
2. Kobe Bryant: 186
3. Jrue Holiday: 183
3. Russell Westbrook: 183
5. Greivis Vasquez: 174
6. Kevin Durant: 166
7. Greg Monroe: 161
8. Damian Lillard: 157
9. Jeremy Lin: 156
10. Nicolas Batum: 152
Greivis Vasquez is the only player among the top six in turnovers who won't be an NBA All-Star this year. As the Hornets mature and Monty Williams works on his concoctions in New Orleans, Vasquez will continue to improve. So far this season, his positives far outweigh his negatives.
Patrick Michael was born in New Orleans and currently resides in the Big Easy. Patrick has followed the Hornets since they moved to New Orleans and has covered the team since 2010. He was in attendance the night the Hornets were one win away from the Western Conference Finals. Follow Patrick Michael on Twitter at patmichael84.
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