30Q: Can Greivis Vasquez replicate his New Orleans Success in Sacramento?

Jerome Miron-US PRESSWIRE

Greivis Vasquez was pretty darn good in New Orleans last year, but was that a fluke or could it happen again in Sacramento?

Aside from the ownership & management change, the Sacramento Kings weren't exactly world shakers this offseason, but they still managed to make some big changes. The biggest, of course, being the sign-and-trade of Tyreke Evans to the New Orleans Pelicans for Greivis Vasquez.

Vasquez has been a very nice story since coming into the league. Not many people thought he would be successful due to his slow foot speed and poor lateral quickness, but he has found a way to contribute to each team he's been on so far. While with the Grizzlies he played a big role in their first-round upset of the San Antonio Spurs as a rookie. And last year, he was a Most Improved Candidate after leading the entire league in total assists and having career-highs in almost every major statistical category.

Vasquez's acquisition was probably the most interesting one of the offseason for Sacramento because he brings a much different play style than most of the previous guards Sacramento has employed. He's a pass-first point guard who can also score instead of a score-first guard who can also pass. Last year Vasquez had an assist rate of 44.9% meaning that almost half of the field goals scored by the Hornets while he was on the floor were assisted by him. In comparison, Isaiah Thomas had the highest assist rate on the Kings at 24.6%. In fact, no player in Sacramento Kings history has ever cracked the 40% mark for assist rate:

Assist_rate_medium

Now, assists aren't everything. Despite having one of the league's best passers on their team, and Sacramento being one of the most selfish teams in the league, New Orleans finished 23rd in total assists to Sacramento's 25th, and also finished with a worse record. To be fair, they were without two of their best players (Anthony Davis and Eric Gordon) for a significant period of time.

But did Vasquez make the Hornets better? According to 82games.com, he did. New Orleans' offense was 5.3 points better per 100 possessions with Vasquez on the floor than off it. However, the defense was 4.1 points worse.

So can Vasquez make the Kings better? First, he'd have to beat out Isaiah Thomas for the starting PG spot, which isn't a given just yet (underestimate Thomas at your own peril). Should he do so, I think there's a very good chance for Vasquez to shine. DeMarcus Cousins in particular could see a big pump in his production by playing with a pass-first guard like Vasquez. Of the top scoring big men in the league last year, Cousins was by far the least-assisted at only 47.7%, meaning he had to create a lot of his own shots, thus decreasing his efficiency. According to HoopData, the league average for percentage of assisted field goals for big men is around 65%. Cousins will always be a shot creator, as it's one of his biggest strengths, but having a guy like Vasquez who can find him in better spots should up that enough to where his efficiency can see a big boost.

Another reason Vasquez can replicate or even possibly surpass his success last season is the fact that there will be similar players around him. In New Orleans, one of his favorite targets was Ryan Anderson. Sacramento doesn't have Ryan Anderson, but we do have Patrick Patterson, who shoots a very similar percentage from long range, albeit at a much lower volume. Marcus Thornton and Ben McLemore are also terrific shooters who will benefit from Vasquez's ability to find the open man. Jason Thompson and Carl Landry will make great pick and roll partners, and there is even the possibility of Vasquez and Thomas playing together at times, perhaps in the same vein as Denver with Andre Miller and Ty Lawson or Golden State with Jarrett Jack and Stephen Curry.

The Kings have not really had a player like Vasquez before. He's improved every single year he's been in the league and will be playing for a big new contract. There's no reason to believe that he can't continue to improve and that he could be a big contributor for this year's Kings team.

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