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.