Unlike other members of the young core of Spurs. Devin Vassell has joined the team facing high expectations. As the franchise’s highest draft pick since Tim Duncan and ahead of other scheming players, he had the pressure to show from the start that he was worthy of the pick.
At the same time, Vassell was a rookie in arguably the oddest NBA season in years. From a compressed schedule due to COVID to the absence of a normal G-League season, there were all obstacles in its path. It also didn’t help that the team had a few minutes to spare, even under ideal circumstances.
Somehow, despite all of these factors, Vassell managed to have enough good times to keep the fanbase excited about the future, which is frankly impressive. While not having the flashiest rookie season, Vassell has shown he belongs.
Vassell’s 3-and-D ability translated into NBA
Besides his physical tools, two skills propelled Vassell into the lottery: three-point shooting and defense. At the college level, he was an elite off-the-ball and very good defenseman on the ball while making 42 percent of his 168 total outside attempts at Florida State. There were concerns about how the two skills would translate for the pros, as he has an unorthodox release on his shot and there was a chance he would struggle to defend more athletic players, but to his time in the field, there were enough flashes to assure everyone that he definitely has the tools to be a fantastic 3-and-D wing, despite a lack of flashy defensive metrics and a conversion rate of 34 % beyond the arc.
As a shooter, Vassell was actually having a great year until the end of March, logging in on 40% of his outside shots. Then he hit the recruit wall hard. From April until the end of the season, he shot 26 percent on three. These last 26 games count just as much as the others, but given that they were played over 47 days and Vassell had played more games than he had in any season in college at the time- there it is not surprising that he does not have his legs. under him. As for his form, that didn’t seem to be a problem. Vassell has hit 35% of his lines with a defender four feet or closer to him, a very solid number. There’s really no reason to believe that with better conditioning and a regular schedule, Vassell can’t at least be an above-average outside shooter.
In defense, Vassell had some rookie moments, but he also had some mind-blowing ones. Bad stretches often came from the ball, where NBA goal scorers at times proved too cunning for Vassell, while the best plays mostly came from the ball, where Vassell showed the conscience that made him such an intriguing prospect. Opponents were shooting better than they normally did when guarding them and he really struggled in isolation, according to Synergy Sports, but he also averaged more than two actions (steals + blocks) every 36 minutes despite his decrease in the number of flights at the end of the season. More impressive than that, his instincts as an aid advocate were mostly elite.
More experience and a bit of extra muscle should help Vassell improve in individual defense, but the flashes of playing potential to that end are already tantalizing, especially when one imagines lineups that also include Dejounte disruptors. Murray and Derrick White.
The creation of the plan is not there yet, but there is still hope
It’s heartwarming to know that the 3-and-D potential that was so touted about Vassell is there, but there was meant to be more than that. In his second season in college, Vassell became more of a dribbling scorer, and that advantage as a secondary weapon made him more desirable. In this area, his rookie season was more mixed, but there were still enough good times to keep hope for his development.
Only 32% of Vassell’s buckets were unassisted and he only took 41 hits on the edge, an incredibly low number that would have been lower if we had to exclude the transition buckets. Part of the reason he struggled to get shots on his own and reach the edge can be explained by his role as a ground spacer and poor pecking order. Vassell’s hits per game, average seconds and dribbles per touch, and possession times were all the lowest of any player in the Spurs’ perimeter, and in some cases even lower than the greats. At the same time, it was evident in the few possessions he controlled that he didn’t have the explosive first step or the cunning ball handling needed to get to his places at the moment, despite some good plays in the game. pick and roll.
The good news is that he will have time to develop his round, starting with a good summer to prepare and a real training camp to refine his weaknesses. Even though it takes a while to get there, his work on transfers should allow him to be able to create a few short-term clichÃ©s. When he gets the ball already in motion, Vassell seems more comfortable and able to create a separation.
While he’s probably never a good faith first or even second option, Vassell should be able to play well with others while still creating his own every now and then, especially when he can use a screen. to get to their seats.
Vassell’s rookie numbers are rather underwhelming, especially for a lottery pick, but given the circumstances and the role Spurs have asked him to play, they’re not unexpected. In order to determine if he was good or not, there has to be a more nuanced examination of his game, and luckily the more we zoom in, the more promising aspects of his game will become evident.
Even a normal season isn’t enough to determine how good a young player will be, but as far as Vassell is concerned, there has certainly been enough good to keep fans optimistic about his future.