San Antonio Spurs Draft: Envisioning offense & defense with Devin Vassell

HARTFORD, CONNECTICUT - MARCH 23: Devin Vassell #24 of the Florida State Seminoles celebrates his basket against the Murray State Racers in the first half during the second round of the 2019 NCAA Men's Basketball Tournament at XL Center on March 23, 2019 in Hartford, Connecticut. (Photo by Rob Carr/Getty Images)
HARTFORD, CONNECTICUT - MARCH 23: Devin Vassell #24 of the Florida State Seminoles celebrates his basket against the Murray State Racers in the first half during the second round of the 2019 NCAA Men's Basketball Tournament at XL Center on March 23, 2019 in Hartford, Connecticut. (Photo by Rob Carr/Getty Images)
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HARTFORD, CONNECTICUT – MARCH 23: San Antonio Spurs draft prospect Devin Vassell #24 of the Florida State Seminoles celebrates his basket against the Murray State Racers in the first half during the second round of the 2019 NCAA Men’s Basketball Tournament at XL Center on March 23, 2019 in Hartford, Connecticut. (Photo by Rob Carr/Getty Images)
HARTFORD, CONNECTICUT – MARCH 23: San Antonio Spurs draft prospect Devin Vassell #24 of the Florida State Seminoles celebrates his basket against the Murray State Racers in the first half during the second round of the 2019 NCAA Men’s Basketball Tournament at XL Center on March 23, 2019 in Hartford, Connecticut. (Photo by Rob Carr/Getty Images)

What could the San Antonio Spurs do with Devin Vassell in the rotation?

The 2020 NBA Draft is approaching in a matter of months. This year’s draft is sure to be full of intrigue, especially for the San Antonio Spurs who will have their highest pick since they took Tim Duncan back in 1997.

This pick is crucially important for the Spurs. They’re not going to get a star player, this isn’t a draft class that has stars through the lottery. But they are in a great position to select a player who can contribute right away.

There’s some debate around what San Antonio should do with their choice. They could trade down and still get a solid player in the 20s but there are a few guys in the top half of the lottery that might be too good to pass on.

Devin Vassell is one of those players. The former Florida State Seminole is one of the best players in this class and would be a near-perfect fit for the San Antonio Spurs roster at this point. He’s got prototypical size and would easily slide into the Spurs rotation on day one, this is not a guy who would have to spend time in Austin.

If Vassell is on the board when it’s San Antonio’s turn to pick they’ve got to take him. If we’re lucky enough to see that happen, here’s what the Spurs rotations might look like with him in the mix.

Next: Devin Vassell's impact on the San Antonio Spurs offense

ANAHEIM, CALIFORNIA – MARCH 28: NBA Draft prospect Devin Vassell #24 of the Florida State Seminoles shoots the ball against the Gonzaga Bulldogs during the 2019 NCAA Men’s Basketball Tournament West Regional. (Photo by Harry How/Getty Images)
ANAHEIM, CALIFORNIA – MARCH 28: NBA Draft prospect Devin Vassell #24 of the Florida State Seminoles shoots the ball against the Gonzaga Bulldogs during the 2019 NCAA Men’s Basketball Tournament West Regional. (Photo by Harry How/Getty Images)

Devin Vassell would bring a floor-spacing threat to San Antonio Spurs

The most obvious and attractive of Vassell’s abilities on the offensive end of the floor is how smoothly he knocks down looks from behind the arc. This young man has as pure of a stroke as you’ll find in the 2020 draft class.

He hit 42 percent of his 3.5 3-point shots per game during his sophomore year at Florida State, with many of them coming from well into NBA range. He’d immediately be able to come in and give the Spurs an additional, and much needed, weapon from deep.

Right away Vassell would likely lean on catch and shoot shots to contribute. With the amount of slashing guards have on their roster, he’d be able to feast on a healthy dose of open looks from the corner or on the wings.

We all saw how effective Derrick White and Dejounte Murray were at collapsing the defense when they attacked the rim. But think how much deadlier they could make San Antonio’s offense if they had another bonafide 3-point threat waiting on the other end of their kick-outs.

Vassell isn’t just limited to catch and shoot looks though. He’s got some skill off the bounce and could develop into an additional slashing threat in time. He looks comfortable dribbling into his looks from deep and has also shown an ability to hit pull up mid-range jumpers when he needs to. Watch his highlights from this season and you’ll also often see him go to a side-step or step-back look that he looks very comfortable with.

As is common with many young players, Vassell is going to need to work on packing muscle onto his frame throughout his rookie season. He’s got a soft touch around the rim and the length to get his shot off over most defenders but until he gets stronger he’s going to be bumped off his path pretty easily. But give him a few years and he could develop into a real threat when he attacks the rim.

While creating for himself or teammates isn’t the most attractive part of Vassell’s offensive game it’s certainly not a lost cause either. Thankfully he’d be able to gradually develop those skills while still fulfilling his role off the bench as a 3-point specialist from day one.

Next: Devin Vassell would immediately improve the Spurs defense

CHARLOTTESVILLE, VA – JANUARY 28: Kihei Clark #0 of the Virginia Cavaliers drives past Devin Vassell #24 of the the Florida State Seminoles in the second half during a game at John Paul Jones Arena on January 28, 2020 in Charlottesville, Virginia. (Photo by Ryan M. Kelly/Getty Images)
CHARLOTTESVILLE, VA – JANUARY 28: Kihei Clark #0 of the Virginia Cavaliers drives past Devin Vassell #24 of the the Florida State Seminoles in the second half during a game at John Paul Jones Arena on January 28, 2020 in Charlottesville, Virginia. (Photo by Ryan M. Kelly/Getty Images)

Devin Vassell could guard four positions for the San Antonio Spurs

Vassell would be able to fill an important albeit limited role on offense for the San Antonio Spurs from day one but it’s his versatility on the defensive end that should excite Spurs fans. This young man can do almost everything on defense.

Let’s start by focusing on just how hard he plays on defense. One of the things that quickly endeared Keldon Johnson to Spurs fans was how he hustled for every loose ball and how he instantly injected a dose of energy into the team’s defense when he was on the floor. Vassell is the same way.

If you want him to lock up his man for a full 94 feet he’ll do it, if he gets beat, which is rare, he will do everything he can to recover and make a play at the rim, he will dive for loose balls and he will get out in transition to get easy points after a turnover. He’s going to give you 100 percent every night, of that you can be sure.

It’d be solid enough if Vassell was just consistently engaged on the defensive end but he combines that with smooth footwork, solid defensive fundamentals, a high basketball high IQ, and a crazy 6’10” wingspan. That gives him all the tools he needs to wreak havoc on opposing offenses.

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Off the ball, Vassell uses his wingspan and high IQ to see opposing players moves before they make them and jump into passing lanes. He averaged 1.4 steals per game this year thanks to his quickness and wingspan, there’s no reason to think that he can’t have a similar impact at the next level.

He’s a great on-ball defender as well. He’s got quick feet, moves well through and around screens, and has the wingspan to recover when if his man gets past him. As mentioned earlier, he could stand to add some weight to his frame. He’s not strong enough to go toe to toe with the Kawhi Leonard’s or Jimmy Butler’s of the league but he can get there someday.

When he’s finally filled out his frame, Vassell has the potential to be able to guard four positions well. That may seem like a high bar but it’s the same thing we’re seeing from Keldon and they’ve got comparable sizes and skillsets. Johnson has a more NBA ready body right now but give Vassell time and he will catch up. If the Spurs are lucky enough to get him they could have two incredibly versatile and skilled wing defenders to go with their dynamic backcourt.

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He might not have the star upside that Anthony Edwards or James Wiseman have but it’s hard to find a more NBA ready prospect than Devin Vassell. He’s perfect for what the San Antonio Spurs are looking to do over the next few years.

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