San Antonio Spurs: What the heck happened to Devin Vassell’s shot?

Florida State guard Devin Vassell, a San Antonio Spurs draft prospect, lines up his 3-point shot Saturday, March 7, 2020.
Florida State guard Devin Vassell, a San Antonio Spurs draft prospect, lines up his 3-point shot Saturday, March 7, 2020. /

Should the San Antonio Spurs be worried about the talented wing player?

As we approach the 2020 NBA Draft there are a few players who have caught the eyes of San Antonio Spurs fans more than others. Deni Avdija is the overseas star we all want but probably won’t get, Patrick Williams is a player who has been consistently mocked to the Spurs and could be an interesting addition, and then you have Devin Vassell.

Vassell is one of the best prospects in this draft from a Spurs perspective. He’s a great 3 & D wing who would bring excellent size and floor spacing ability to the Spurs lineup. He’s young, he’s got the ability to switch on all sorts of defensive lineups, he plays hard. What’s not to like?

One of the most attractive parts of Vassell’s game is his outside shooting. There are a few truly elite shooters in this draft class like Tyrell Terry and Aaron Nesmith but Vassell isn’t a slouch from behind the arc either.

He hit on 42 percent of his long-range attempts in college and over his two years he consistently showed off a smooth stroke with a beautiful high release. But something has changed in Vassell’s shot lately.

San Antonio Spurs Draft: Devin Vassell’s jump shot undergoes a makeover

Yesterday on Twitter videos emerged of Vassell working on his shot in an empty gym and something looked distinctly different in his form. He’s bringing it much further behind his head than he did throughout the season.

Right now it looks more like a catapult throw than it does a jump shot. This wouldn’t be bad if he was cosplaying as an ancient Roman siege weapon but as a basketball player, it’s pretty concerning.

Devin Vassell looks to have completely changed his jumpshot a month before the draft. This is form is not what made him a top ten pick

— Joe Casey (@Joe_Casey1) October 15, 2020

Just watch the tape from his lights-out performance against Virginia Tech from earlier this year and you’ll clearly see a different shot. He was still bringing the ball behind his head a bit but it wasn’t nearly as pronounced as we’re seeing now.

It looks a little odd but if it works it works. Tyrese Haliburton has a somewhat strange-looking shot too but he shot 43 percent from behind the arc in his two years at Iowa State so no one questions it.

Look, players tinker with their shots all the time. It’s not a huge deal. But usually, when a player makes substantial changes to their form it’s to get closer to what coaches would describe as a textbook shot.

Lonzo Ball is a perfect example of this. He had one of the wonkiest looking jumpers in the league when he first came to the NBA. But three years of tweaking and refining later he’s got a smoother jumper and is coming off a season in which he connected on 37.5 percent of his long-range attempts.

Vassell isn’t following that route. If anything his shot has gotten less smooth. This could be an overreaction but I’m picking up hints of Markelle Fultz here. Admittedly, there was a lot more going on with Fultz physically when he tried to reform his shot shortly after he was drafted.

Still,  Fultz went from a player who shot 41 percent from behind the arc to whose career-high is 28 percent from deep in the NBA so pardon me for being skeptical when I see a player tinkering with what was already a smooth looking shot this close to the draft.

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Maybe we’re making something out of nothing. Maybe Devin Vassell is just doing a little tinkering with his shot and he’ll be just as good of a shooter in the NBA as he was in college. But this is an area that bears watching by the San Antonio Spurs and every other team interested in adding him to their team.