Apr 14, 2013; New Orleans, LA, USA; New Orleans Hornets point guard Greivis Vasquez (21) drives with the ball past Dallas Mavericks point guard Mike James (13) during the first quarter of a game at the New Orleans Arena. Mandatory Credit: Derick E. Hingle-USA TODAY Sports
Greivis Vasquez, Sacramento Kings:
After having an insanely productive season with the (then) New Orleans Hornets last year, Vasquez figured he’d be set up for a starting role and a big pay increase next year. Unfortunately the NBA Draft came and took a shovel to those dreams and beat the heck out of them. New Orleans changed their name to the Pelicans, traded their first round draft pick, and picked up another point guard in Jrue Holiday. In doing so, they essentially guaranteed that Vasquez would be on his way out given the crowded backcourt situation there.
In a pretty inexplicable move, the Pels traded Vasquez to forever miserable Sacramento for Tyreke Evans (even though they already have enough guards who need the ball in their hands). Vasquez goes to the place where careers do not flourish; the Kings will crush your will to play. Fortunately, Greivis might actually be in luck with the Kings, who haven’t had a competent pass-first point guard since Sergio Rodriguez.
As it stands now, Greivis will be competing with sophomore Isaiah Thomas for the starting point guard spot, and you have to like his chances. Thomas is about ten inches shorter than Vasquez, and while he is definitely a better scorer, is nowhere near the passer that Vasquez is. Kings head coach Pete D’Allesandro is probably going to be looking for a passer like Vasquez to help set up offensive weapons DeMarcus Cousins, Ben McLemore, and Marcus Thorton.
Vasquez should be able to thrive in this offense (and maybe even get some production out of Jimmer Fredette), but it’s Sacramento so history tells you things won’t go well. He will get an ample amount of minutes though, and I fully expect him to continue his solid play when the season begins soon enough.
Alex Len, Phoenix Suns:
Poor Alex Len. Drafted fifth overall in the first round by Phoenix, Len has had more surgeries on his ankle (1) than minutes played in a Suns uni (0). When news broke that Len had another surgery on his opposite ankle, both Terps and Suns fans weren’t feeling too good about the Ukranian big man’s chances of thriving in the NBA.
Fortunately, the surgery on the right ankle was precautionary, and more a decision based on making him better in the long run rather than something that needed to happen. The Suns could have simply not operated on Len, but their medical staff deemed it a wise idea.
If there’s one thing I’ve found since covering the NBA, it’s that you never, ever, ever question the Suns medical staff. They’re the absolute best in the business, managing to get productive play out of an old Shaquille O’Neal and an even older Steve Nash with ease. If the Suns want to operate on Len now, then you have to accept that it’s the right move. They’re the equivalent of the San Antonio Spurs trade decisions: the decisions may seem weird, but it works.
For Len, there’s no other place he should be right now, and I have full faith that he’ll make a strong recovery.
Terrell Stoglin, Cholet Basket (France)
Since leaving college early for the NBA, Stoglin has had a tough time cracking an NBA roster. In 2012, he played for the Toronto Raptors Summer League team, but didn’t make enough of an impact to stick with the squad. Instead, he opted to play for Greek team Ilysiakos last year, where he was their leading scorer. Rather than continue with the team, though, he decided to re-up elsewhere in Europe: France.
Stoglin landed in perhaps the best spot for him, playing for Cholet Basket in the LNB Pro A. Cholet isn’t the best team, but they are adequately prepared to filter players from their own team into the NBA. Former Terp Mike Jones previously played for them, but more importantly guys like Nando de Colo (Spurs), Rudy Gobert (Jazz), and Rodruige Beaubois (Mavericks) have came to the NBA after being on Cholet.
If Stoglin can show that he has improved as a player, there’s absolutely no reason that he will impress some NBA scouts. The Pro A league is constantly being looked at, and if Stoglin shines he could very well be asked to come over and play. It’s not impossible with someone who can score as well as Stoglin, but he has to refine the rest of his game.
Jordan Williams (Free Agent):
Jordan Williams, another Terp who left school early, is also having a hard time sticking on an NBA roster. Williams was initially drafted by the Nets in 2011, but was an afterthought in a trade to the Hawks for Joe Johnson. Williams never played a single minute for the Hawks, and found himself off an NBA roster this summer.
Fortunately, Williams found his way on the Lakers Summer League squad, and things presumably looked up from there. Kind of. Williams played in two games for the Lakers, and I use the term played loosely because he only averaged five minutes a game. His lack of playing time limited the exposure he could get, and right now there’s a slim chance of him making it on the Lakers roster.
James Gist, Panathinaikos:
Gist is doing more than just playing in the BALL League with a bunch of other Terps alumni. The former Terp just re-upped his contract with Greek League champion Panathinaikos, signing for two more seasons. Gist initially started last season with Unicaja Malaga, but swapped teams midway through the season. He ended up averaging 8.3 points and 5.2 rebounds per game for then, and 7.8 points and 4.4 rebounds per game during Euroleague play.
For those that don’t know, those are actually pretty effective stats for someone in European ball. I’m not entirely certain that Gist will end up in the NBA anytime soon after being drafted by the Spurs in 2008, but I do know that he’s putting together quite a resume in Europe. Serbian Cup MVP, Spanish League Slam Dunk Contest Champion, Greek Cup champion, and Greek League champion. Hats off to you, Gist!