Fran Vazquez

Fran Vazquez profile
Drafted #11 in the 2005 NBA Draft by the Magic
Height: 6'10" (208 cm)
Weight: 229 lbs (104 kg)
Position: C
Hometown: Chantada, Spain
Current Team: Zaragoza
Win - Loss: 13 - 21


Blogging through the Copa del Rey (Part Three)

Jonathan Givony
Jonathan Givony
Feb 26, 2009, 07:17 pm
One of the revelations of this year’s ACB season has been the sudden revival of Barcelona big man Fran Vazquez. Already left for dead after struggling to get off the bench last season playing for the very strict and demanding Dusko Ivanovic (now in Tau), Vazquez has taken full advantage of the opportunity presented to him by new head coach Xavi Pascual, emerging as one of the most productive rebounders, shot-blockers and finishers in European basketball. He ranks #1 in both in the Euroleague and ACB in blocked shots per-40 pace adjusted, 4th in the ACB in rebounding, and 1st in the ACB in FG%. Physically, he looks better and his confidence seems to be way up.

Coach Pascual has done an excellent job simplifying the game for the physically gifted, but not terribly skilled or smart big man. His role is essentially to run from rim to rim and back, maximizing his strengths while minimizing his weaknesses. Almost all of Vazquez’s shots come in the immediate area of the paint, where he is an awesome finisher thanks to his freakish length and athleticism. He makes an incredible 82% of his attempts around the basket according to Synergy Sports Technology, and is a constant target for lobs and simple drop-offs from his very generous teammates.

Vazquez gets to the line at a decent rate, and shoots a solid 75% once there (69/92 this season). He has a very nice looking stroke from mid-range, but hardly if ever gets a chance to show it, as he usually plays alongside the perimeter oriented David Andersen on a team that has quite a few players with quick triggers. Inside the post, Vazquez is pretty limited with his back to the basket, showing insufficient strength, poor footwork and a pretty average feel for the game, not being particularly fluid or graceful when forced to create his own offense. Not much of a passer, Vazquez regardless knows how to stick to his strengths and doesn’t seem to be very turnover prone these days.

Speaking of strengths, Vazquez has really embraced his role as defensive stopper this year, showing terrific activity level on this end of the floor. As mentioned, per-minute he ranks as the #1 shot-blocker in both the Euroleague and ACB, and his impact extends beyond the paint, as he’s able to accurately hedge pick and rolls and even stay in front of opposing guards. As a post-defender, Vazquez is not quite as effective, as he lacks the strength to hold his ground against the bigger and burlier big men he’ll go up against at times, and also some awareness not biting on fakes on such, as he’s not the smartest guy you’ll find around. Still, his combination of size, length and athleticism makes him quite a presence on this side of the floor, and would also make him a valuable asset in the NBA. Not particularly known for his mental toughness, and never considered much of a self-starter, he’s done a better job staying focused and motivated this season, even when things aren’t going his way.

Even though his development was stunted somewhat as he struggled to live up to expectations since being drafted back in 2005, Vazquez seems to be back on the right track and is clearly having the best season of his professional career. Still only 25 years old, Vazquez is very clearly an NBA caliber rotation player, and relative to his price would be an excellent addition for the Orlando Magic if they were somehow able to bring him over.

Vazquez has just one more year on his contract after this, and considering his salary slot on the NBA’s rookie scale as the #11 draft pick—nearly two million dollars—could still be a realistic target if Orlando (or any team that trades for his draft rights) were able to bring him over. Talking to his NBA agent Marc Cornstein about that, he thinks that from the Magic's perspective "the door has always been open for him if he wants to play in the NBA," although he pointed out that he has not discussed that matter recently with them. "With Fran it's always been more a matter of desire rather than money."

Scouting the NBA Rights-Held Players at the 2008 Copa del Rey

Luis Fernández
Luis Fernández
Jonathan Givony
Jonathan Givony
Feb 19, 2008, 02:18 am
It seems pretty likely that F.C.Barcelona wouldn’t mind parting ways with Fran Vazquez and his monstrous contract if he weren’t Spanish and there wasn’t any quota requirement to meet in the ACB League (5 Spanish guys per team). He’s certainly playing that bad.

Vazquez has never been able to come close to his last season in Málaga, where he was surrounded and supported by a bunch of excellent team players (like Jorge Garbajosa) with a very structured game put in place by coach Scariolo. His style was greatly facilitated, getting regular open looks near the basket to exploit his dunking abilities, and in the mid-range distances to take advantage of his jumper.

Meanwhile, in Barcelona he seems pretty lost, exposing his great limitations in terms of basketball IQ, and nothing seems to point towards him finding himself anytime soon. His performance at the Copa was no different, as he was only able to add two points through a dunk.

2007 King’s Cup: A Look at the Oldies (Drafted Players/Free Agents)

Luis Fernández
Luis Fernández
Feb 14, 2007, 02:52 pm
It was a strange tournament for Vazquez. He barely played 27 minutes, and only scored 10 points in 3 games, but he left a sweet final taste. How was this possible?

He hadn’t spent even 3 minutes on the court in the quarterfinal against Unicaja Malaga when Vazquez fell to the ground, hitting his head on the floor after attempting to block a shot. He left the game for good as a preventive measure. Things got even worse in the semifinal against DKV Joventut. Fran was severely outplayed while defending the low post in consecutive plays by Andrew Betts, who is far from being any type of paint dancer. It was so obvious that Joventut ran the same play again for a third time, but in this opportunity Vazquez stayed cool, wasn’t faked by any of Betts’ moves, and avoided conceding the basket. He didn’t stay on the court much longer anyway, enjoying only 8 minutes of playing time.

As if he had finally learned a lesson, his defensive effort in the final was much more efficient. He had to deal with Felipe Reyes, a very dangerous inside player who moves really well on the paint. This time Vazquez focused on staying in front of his rival, preventing Reyes from his right-handed drives, and controlling his desire to attempt to block every shot. Still, he had time to record 4 excellent blocks, most of them on defensive rotations, and showed much better criteria in terms of deciding when to attack the ball. Offensively, he took advantage of the good ball movement of F.C.Barcelona to score easy points under the basket.

Fran is still an intriguing player NBA-wise. His combination of length and athleticism is terrific. This season, he even managed to deliver a triple-double in the ACB League, recording double digits in blocks. Besides, the recent injury of Mario Kasun is helping him, as now he always shares the floor with a power forward (he feels much more comfortable playing center) and obviously enjoys more playing time. Anyway, there are doubts about his willingness to go to the NBA anytime in the future, and certainly he’s not the most endeared figure in Orlando.

Euroleague: Who's Not

Kristian Hohnjec
Kristian Hohnjec
Dec 28, 2006, 11:59 am
When Orlando selected him with the 11th pick of the 2005 NBA draft, Fran Vazquez was a player on the rise. He was coming along nicely in all parts of the game, improving his skill-set and basketball IQ and was regarded as a player whose upside was still great despite being automatically eligible for the draft as a 1983 prospect.

Almost two years later, Fran is pretty much the same player. After signing a very rich contract with Akasvayu Girona and rejecting the Orlando Magic, Fran disappointed his new team and was shopped to a Barcelona team who was willing to take on the burden of his large contract. So far, he has not made Barca’s GM Zoran Savic look smart. Just like at Girona, Fran is forced to play the PF spot, which isn’t his natural position considering that he doesn’t have the skill-set that usually goes with it.

Vazquez’s offense still revolves around two weapons and has become quite predictable. He is a solid shooter from 12-14 feet and has an effective jump-hook shot. Regarding his statistics, the only thing that jumps at you are his blocks per game, which are quite high. He is using his length and excellent leaping ability to swat away shots, but his rebounding rate is not quite as good, since he gets outmuscled and does not always establish good position under the rim.

Given that Orlando has found their frontcourt of the future in Dwight Howard and probably Darko Milicic, Vazquez is not at the top of priority list for them. He has been shopped around as filler in many trade rumors so far, and no NBA team is yet to bite. Even if Fran disappointed with his progress, his length, athleticism and dependable mid-range shot will probably secure him a place in Orlando’s rotation once he decides to try his luck in the U.S. But considering what they’ve gotten out of him so far, their former #11 draft pick can’t be considered anything less than a disappointment.

King's Cup: Drafted Players and Potential Over-22 Free Agents

Luis Fernández
Luis Fernández
Feb 23, 2006, 02:46 am
A very forgettable performance by Fran Vazquez in this King’s Cup, looking rather lost on the court in a quarterfinal loss that left his team out of the competition. Coming off a very inconsistent season, this outcome was a strong possibility in advance.

Let’s remember that Vazquez was selected last June with the 11th draft pick by the Orlando Magic, but chose to remain in Spain after signing a lucrative four-year deal with Akasvayu Girona, an up-and-coming team financially. This move would allow Fran to develop his game at the power forward position, where he enjoys the most potential considering his athleticism and physical characteristics, as Girona’s paint game is filled with centers.

However, and this was just another competition where he left it clear, Vazquez is far from becoming a complete forward. His offensive skills are still basically limited to a nice jumper (that wasn’t falling for him here) and his ability to finish near the basket. There is no trace of go-to skills, little to no ball-handling skills and very limited post production. Although it’s not usual for him, he went scoreless in this game.

On the defensive end, in spite of a couple of good sequences coming off the bench in the first quarter, highlighted with some intimidation and rebounds taking advantage of his athleticism, inconsistency was again the dominant factor, suffering particularly against Dimos Dikoudis in the second half. All in all, it was rather a frustrating game for Fran.

Anyway, we shouldn’t jump to hasty conclusions. It has only been half a season since Vazquez left Malaga and the beneficial frontcourt company of Jorge Garbajosa which created plenty of spaces for him. Now he suffers more pressure because of his draft position and the gross contract he signed, while he has to adjust to a position on the court where he still doesn’t feel comfortable. Next season should be more accurate to evaluate his possibilities of development.

2005 Spanish King's Cup

Luis Fernández
Luis Fernández
Feb 23, 2005, 01:40 am
One of the top international prospects right now, we can't say Fran Vazquez disappointed, especially considering that he was part of Unicaja's big success winning the tournament, but he didn't stand out either.

He showed flashes of his game and potential, scoring most of his jumpers, delivering some strong finishes above the rim, blocking shots and showing his athleticism. The three pointer he scored also deserves to be mentioned, it might be the first one he attempted in a game in his pro career (meaning not a trey forced by clock circumstances or something similar). He looked very natural while taking and making it, and it doesn't come as a big surprise considering how consistent he is right now in the mid-range area.

Fran started for Unicaja Malaga in the quarterfinals and in the finals, but coach Scariolo decided to replace him for Zan Tabak in the starting lineup against Pamesa Valencia in the semifinals, playing him off the bench instead. That's easily explainable: the lack of consistency that Vazquez sometimes shows defending the low post was too much of a risk against a team that starts with Fabricio Oberto and Dejan Tomasevic, two excellent post specialists near the basket.

All in all, it has been just another step in Fran's developing run that will eventually lead him to the NBA.

Euroleague: Youngsters Fighting for a Place Under the Sun

Luis Fernández
Luis Fernández
Sadik Iliman
Sadik Iliman
Matiz Tratar
Matiz Tratar
Feb 18, 2005, 09:56 pm
The opportune (for him) injury that Zan Tabak suffered during the first part of the season allowed Fran Vázquez to become a starter for Unicaja Málaga. And while his team certainly suffered under those circumstances, losing depth in the inside rotation, and ultimately not qualifying for the top-16 stage, Vázquez took advantage to showcase his game at the premier European level. And you can bet he hasn't disappointed.

Vázquez has provided his team with size, athleticism, intimidation, rebounding and scoring. He has played center full-time, teaming with the more perimeter oriented (and leader of the team) Jorge Garbajosa at power forward. Fran's main duty on the offensive end has been to take advantage of the spaces created from his teammates attacking the basket (his dunks have become a routine) or deliver mid-range jumpers. Indeed, his mid-range shot is probably his most improved skill since last season. Nobody will deny that he played his part after scoring 70% of his 2-point shots (second in the Euroleague).

Not everything has been a secondary role for him. Fran has eventually showed his potential to become a good scorer as well. His game against CSKA Moscow, the strongest team in this regular season, deserves to be mentioned especially. Vázquez had 17 points here while taking his team on his shoulders offensively during some stretches of the game, playing one-on-one ball effectively in the low post and scoring on contested shots.

Also, a guy with his wingspan and athleticism has to be a presence on defense, and being ranked in second place among all Euroleague players in blocked shots isn't a coincidence. But besides this glamorous detail, he remains a pretty raw defensive player who still makes youthful mistakes. Things like not knowing to when and where to concede space to his matchup, getting fooled when a rival player fakes a shot, not properly boxing out his defender for the rebound, and so on.

However, the bright spots outshine his flaws, many of which he has time to work on. Being one of the youngsters who benefited most from this competition, he might have worked his way into the lottery for next June.

Fran Vazquez NBA Draft Scouting Report

Jan 30, 2005, 07:25 pm
Fran Vázquez is an athletic paint player who displays great speed and mobility, nice coordination and very good leaping ability. He's gifted with very long arms and decent strength despite his skinny appearance.

On the offensive end, he takes advantage of his superior speed to beat the defense by running the break or using screens to get an open position. He plays quite well without the ball, particularly in pick and roll situations. He's a pretty explosive finisher: he can receive the ball and dunk it in a second. Perhaps his best offensive weapon is his jumper out to 12-14 feet, being able to deliver it with a slight fade-away movement, which, combined with his wingspan and vertical, makes his shots very difficult to stop. He also displays a semi-hook shot, which is very reliable and helps him to produce in the low post. He's also consistent from the free-throw line.

On defense, he can be a good intimidator. Using his long arms and leaping ability with perfect timing, he gets a good amount of blocks on a regular basis. He has the physical tools, such as wingspan or quickness, and shows the right attitude to become a reliable defender. He's also a nice rebounder, getting many defensive boards thanks to his athleticism.

Vázquez is a natural-born worker, always trying to get better, always improving on his weaknesses, and pretty intense on the floor. He's really serious about the game and shows great maturity and character; he doesn't hesitate if he's needed to lead his team. He knows his current limitations and plays under control.

Given his physical profile and attitude, he still has lots of potential.

Unlike most of the European bigs, Fran Vázquez is far from really being a skilled player. His array of offensive weapons is rather limited. He has problems playing with his back to the basket, as his post-up moves are somehow poor, although his hook shot makes up for it up to a certain degree. Facing the basket, his slashing ability is limited by his average handles. Given his quickness, he should work in this department, because it could be a great source of offensive production. His best option here is trying to fake a penetration to deliver a fade-away jumper. All in all, he still fails to produce from one-on-one plays on a regular basis.

Besides, Fran's defense needs some serious refining. His positioning, especially in one-on-one defense, is not always accurate, making some bad decisions and getting outwitted. He must learn when to go for the block, because he risks too much looking for production in this department. He also would benefit from a better boxing-out technique in rebounding situations.

A matter of concern about Vazquez's game is his role. Is he a center or a power forward? Fran is not strong enough for a center. He sometimes gets banged on defense and his rebounding production suffers, fighting against bigger opponents. He will need to gain weight and strength to play at the next level. He still doesn't look totally developed physical-wise. Also, he doesn't have ideal size, although his wingspan and athleticism could make up for it. On the other hand, he isn't skilled enough for a power forward, although he's improving. Considering his physical set, that would be the ideal position for him. He's quite raw for a player of his age, but lately he's catching up fairly quickly.

Vázquez grew up as a player at the esteemed Siglo XXI center, signing afterwards with Unicaja Málaga. He has played in all the youth categories of the Spanish National Team. For the 2003-2004 season, he was loaned to Auna Gran Canaria, where he started the season as the replacement off the bench for Pat Burke. With Burke's departure to Real Madrid mid-way through the season, he earned a starting spot.

Playing in the ACB League, he has been facing top competition for a while now. His stats on the 2003-2004 regular season were 6.8 points, shooting 53% from the field, and 5.1 rebounds in 16 minutes per game. In a spectacular playoff series against European powerhouse F.C.Barcelona, his numbers raised to 19.75 points (56% shooting), 5.5 rebounds and 2.25 blocks in 30.25 minutes per game.

For the 2004-2005 campaign, Unicaja Málaga recovered him, and due to Zan Tabak's injury, he has been starting throughout the season. In the Euroleague, he currently averages 8.7 points, 4.8 rebounds and 1.6 blocks (ranking second in this department in the competition), while in the ACB League he's having 10 points, 5.4 rebounds and 1.6 blocks (ranking first in Spain).

Fran Vázquez's development has made him a lock for the first round in the 2005 draft, when he's automatically elegible. His exact stock this coming June is pretty much up in the air, as he looks like he is in constant progression. Somewhere around the middle of the first round would likely be his place.

Fran Vázquez is still very raw for the NBA level, but shows great conditions to play the game. His potential is great, but he must work on it. He could very well use an extra season in Europe polishing his skills to become more versatile. Otherwise, he would risk becoming a role player devoted to defensive and rebounding purposes, while hitting some mid-range jumpers from time to time on the offensive end.

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