2020 NBA Draft Watch: San Antonio Spurs need to look at Devin Vassell in late-lottery
By Dylan Carter
With a draft pick late in the 2020 NBA Draft lottery, the San Antonio Spurs should take a look at FSU’s versatile forward Devin Vassell.
In all likelihood, the San Antonio Spurs are picking at the back end of the lottery during the 2020 NBA Draft. This will mark the first time in over two decades that the team picks from outside of playoff range, meaning it’ll be their highest pick since newly elected Hall of Famer Tim Duncan went No.1 overall in 1997. In order to move back into the playoff race as fast as possible, they’ll need to make good use of this pick.
With their draft range being what it is, San Antonio should take a long, hard look at Florida State forward Devin Vassell. A 6-foot-6 wing with a 6-foot-10 wingspan, Vassell is projected to be a borderline lottery pick whose high basketball IQ, clean jump shot, noteworthy two-way prowess and instinctual rebounding skills make him one of the most dependable picks out of the NCAA this season.
There aren’t as many surefire picks in this draft as there were last year and the small forward depth is a bit weak. In a guard-heavy draft, Vassell is going to be highly regarded once pre-draft workouts come around and NBA scouts get to know him.
A Georgia native, Vassell brings a huge defensive edge to his team by staying active both on and off the ball while taking advantage of weakside coverage and adding blocks whenever he sees fit. He’s able to play positions two-through-four in college but is more likely to stick on the wing once he makes the leap to the NBA. Still, in small bursts, he can slot down to the small-ball four.
Averaging 1.4 steals and a block per game, Vassell is adept at reading the movement of opposing ball handlers and keeping up with plays even when his teammates cannot. He helps peers when he’s needed, but boasts strong recovery and great athleticism that allows him to roam around and recover on defense.
Devin Vassell’s breakout sophomore season was a BIG reason why @FSUHoops captured their 1st #ACCMBB regular-season crown! pic.twitter.com/s6bYjU5lfO
— ACC Men's Basketball (@accmbb) March 19, 2020
As a scorer, Vassell is a reliable three-point shooter at 41.5 percent in his sophomore campaign and 70-for-165 in his collegiate career. His high point of release and quick trigger makes him a candidate to be deadly from three-point land once he hits the NBA. His 72 percent free throw percentage in college is indicative of his bright future as a shooter in the pros.
While he’ll get coined by many as a 3-and-D prospect, Vassell is much more than just a floor spacer and defender. The 2019-20 All-ACC selection is a skilled finisher who’ll benefit greatly from NBA weight training and conditioning regimens.
At only 19 years old, Vassell is already becoming more confident when driving to and playing under the rim. His basketball IQ shines on the offensive end of the court, where he picks and chooses his spots according to what his defender is giving him and where he feels most comfortable. This is a quality that Spurs head coach Gregg Popovich will pick up on quickly and implement into his role with the team.
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In his sophomore campaign, Vassell was extremely efficient, shooting 49 percent from the floor including 53.2 percent on two-point shots. He’s a solid finisher on putbacks under the basket, which he grabs by boxing out his matchup and sneaking up for unsuspecting boards over big men and through contact.
Hustle and heart shine through when you watch Vassell play, making him an excellent fit to complement the Spurs’ rambunctious young core as they begin the next era of silver and black basketball.
The only glaring weakness in Vassell’s game is his playmaking, which the team already has in boatloads. San Antonio has a handful of players who’re signed on for next season and beyond who can dish off to their teammates, but they need players who can hit tough shots when they’re available and hustle on both ends of the floor.
His draft stock is likely to rise as the draft process continues, and players of his archetype are few and far between. However, if Vassell falls to the Spurs late in the lottery, he’d fill a lot of the holes they’re looking for as they take their next step toward the future.