The very nature of Vasquez’s preferred shots make him the ultimate trick-or-treat player — he can be extremely effective or look extraordinarily awful on any given night. In both of the Raptors’ recent multiple-overtime losses, Vasquez was essential. On Feb. 27 against Washington, he went 11 of 19 from the floor, and his success opened the floor up for others. In last Friday’s game against Oklahoma City, he shot 9 of 11 before fouling out in the second overtime. The Raptors probably would have won that game if he stayed on the floor, replaced instead by John Salmons. Since that game, however, Vasquez is shooting just 33%. The reserve unit that he often heads has been struggling badly without the injured Patrick Patterson. Accordingly, he said he will try to diversify his offence in the off-season, working harder on his three-point shot — he shoots a below-average 33% from beyond the arc for his career. Yet, there is something nice about seeing a player trying to make it in the league.
“I see myself like Manu Ginobili. He hits some crazy shots because he’s very crafty — probably with more athleticism than me. You’re always trying to pick up things from different players. Jason Kidd: At the end of his career, he wasn’t the fastest guy. But he was smart. He knew how to play the game. That’s something I wanted to reflect in my game.” Vasquez added Andre Miller to the list of guards who manage to succeed despite lacking elite foot speed. Those might sound like ambitious comparisons, but Vasquez emphasized the extent to which he was still learning the game, noting, “I think I’m going to be the point guard that I want to be in this league eventually.” He has some time, especially playing behind Kyle Lowry in Toronto. At the moment, Vasquez is averaging 8.6 points and 3.7 assists per game, a decrease commensurate with his role being reduced from his days in New Orleans.
Toronto is going to need Vasquez’s ‘A’ game to be successful in the postseason. The 6’6 guard has proven to be a great change of pace and style from starting point guard Kyle Lowry and when Vasquez is hitting his shots, the Raptors can go to a very effective two point guard line-up that allows Lowry to play off the ball. Toronto has won some games with big fourth quarter performances from Vasquez already and this is one player that wants to be in the big moments. “I can tell you this, I am not afraid at all,” Vasquez said. “I am not going to be afraid of the moment. I like big moments and that’s just my personality since college. I just got to do whatever it takes to help the team win games. Whenever my name is called, I am just going to go out there and do my job. I am ready to go. It’s all about confidence and believing in yourself and I got all of that.”
No one knows how players such as DeRozan, who has never appeared in a playoff game, will react when the pressure intensifies and virtually every possession is do or die. Not many teams start two second-year players, but in Jonas Valanciunas and Terrence Ross there’s a wild-card factor any team will have to adjust. During one possession in Boston, Valanciunas and Ross ran an inside/outside sequence that showed patience, the kind of basketball the post-season demands. When adjustments are required as teams take away first and second options, Valanciunas has to be assertive in the post, while Ross cannot be settling for his jumper.