Mar 16, 2019; Charlotte, NC, USA; Two San Antonio Spurs rookies go at it as Duke Blue Devils guard Tre Jones (3) shoots the ball against Florida State Seminoles guard Devin Vassell (24) in the second half in the ACC conference tournament at Spectrum Center. Mandatory Credit: Jeremy Brevard-USA TODAY Sports
Here’s how we think the San Antonio Spurs did at the 2020 NBA Draft
Coming into last night’s 2020 NBA Draft there were a lot of questions about how the San Antonio Spurs would approach the evening. Would they ship out one or more of their veterans to move up into the top-three, would they try to pick up assets by trading down, or would they, in typical Spurs fashion, do nothing?
Turns out the tried and true strategy of sticking with their gut and holding onto their picks worked out just fine for San Antonio. They’re coming away from the draft with two great additions in Devin Vassell and Tre Jones.
Both Vassell and Jones are players that we highlighted as potentially great fits for San Antonio and we really couldn’t be happier that they’re coming to our Spurs. These are both high character young men who should be able to have an immediate impact on the team.
They do add to an already crowded backcourt but we’re not going to worry too much about that right now. There is still plenty of time before the season starts and the Spurs are sure to have no shortage of suitors for DeMar DeRozan and Patty Mills. And even if they do enter the ’20-21 season with all of their guards still on the roster you won’t find us complaining too much about such an impressive collection of talent.
With the 2020 NBA Draft finally in the rearview mirror, let’s grade how the San Antonio Spurs did with both of their picks.
Next: Devin Vassell
Florida State Seminoles guard Devin Vassell (24) celebrates a big play during a game between FSU and Pittsburgh at the Donald L. Tucker Civic Center Tuesday, Feb. 18, 2020.Fsu Vs Pittrsburgh 021820 Ts 3134
San Antonio Spurs 11th overall pick, Devin Vassell
I remember back in the late parts of the spring and early parts of the summer when it seemed like Vassell would be the first Florida State Seminole off the board. We thought there was no way that he would slip past the Knicks or Suns.
But here we are, months later, watching his teammate go fourth overall to the Chicago Bulls, and the player Spurs fans have wanted all along fell right into their laps at 11. Tell me if you’ve heard this story before – an immensely talented player falls to the Spurs and ends up thriving in San Antonio? Remind you of anyone?
Vassell’s game is perfectly suited for what the Spurs needed. He’s an excellent 3-point shooter – he connected on over 41 percent of his 3-point attempts during both of his years at Florida State- but he’s more than just a shooter.
His Inspector Gadget wingspan makes him a dangerous finisher inside and he’s already shown off flashes of a pretty nice mid-range game. He’s got a few moves in his bag that will remind San Antonio Spurs fans of DeMar DeRozan. Now, he’s nowhere near the Kobe acolytes mastery of the game but his affinity for side steps and turnaround jumpers is quite DeRozan-esque.
A huge benefit for the Spurs is that, unlike many of their other 3-point shooters, Vassell is a lockdown defender. Isaac Okoro might have been the best man to man defender in this class but not by much. And as a total team defender, Vassell might have the edge.
He averaged 1.4 steals and 1 block per game during his sophomore season with the Seminoles and get this, 30 percent of the pick and roll possessions he defended resulted in a turnover. Yes, you read that right, 30 percent.
With most teams in the NBA running pick and roll sets on north of 20 percent of their possessions, there will be no shortage of opportunities for Vassell to prove that he can be just as dangerous at the next level.
This is such a good pick for San Antonio. Devin Vassell does exactly what they need on offense but also comes with room to grow. And on defense, he’s Gregg Popovich’s dream come true. Congratulations, Brian Wright, you nailed this one.
Next: Tre Jones
Feb 22, 2020; Durham, North Carolina, USA; Duke Blue Devils guard Tre Jones (3) reacts after hitting a three point basket against the Virginia Tech Hokies during the first half at Cameron Indoor Stadium. Mandatory Credit: Rob Kinnan-USA TODAY Sports
San Antonio Spurs 41st overall pick, Tre Jones
Can I say something that might sound a little out there? I think I might actually like this pick more than the previous one. Don’t get me wrong, I’m over the moon for Vassell. But I thought there was no way that Tre Jones would be there of the taking at 41. I physically lept off my couch when this pick was announced.
Now I know there are going to be some Spurs fans complaining with something along the lines of “why did we take another point guard, we already have too many” and believe me, I hear you. But when you have the opportunity to add the ACC Player of the Year and ACC Defensive Player of the Year with a mid-second round pick you don’t turn it down.
He isn’t the flashiest passer and won’t jump out of the gym but Jones might be one of the most well-rounded point guards in this entire draft class and that includes the guys who went in the top-ten. During his final season at Duke, he averaged 16.2 points, 6.4 assists, and 1.8 steals per contest and looked in complete control of the game.
Now, there are some concerns about his outside shooting ability. He shot just 26 percent from deep as a freshman but over the summer he dedicated himself to improving on that area of his game and connected on 36 percent of his looks from deep as a sophomore.
Some people see that as a fluke year, I see it as a player reaping the rewards of his hard work. If he can continue that habit in the NBA there is no limit on what he is capable of.
Almost more important than what he can do on the court is what Jones brings to the team off the court. Here is what Coach K had to say about his point guard in an interview earlier this year.
“Just a natural progression with talent, commitment, attitude. When you have that combination of still-developing talent to go along with work ethic, great attitude and a willingness to be taught, you’re going to get better. At anything.
He’s a treasure. He was as competitive as anyone in the country. He not only developed offensively, but he developed his leadership skills. He is a joy, just a joy, and was so deserving of the honors that he received and helped lead a team that was very young.”
Coach K isn’t walking around gassing up every one of his players like that. If he’s speaking that glowingly about a player it carries weight.
I cannot stress this enough, this is such an excellent pick by the San Antonio Spurs. In ten years, when Jones has been conducting the Spurs second unit like a maestro, we’re going to look back and wonder how he ever slipped this far.
What a night for the San Antonio Spurs. I have no complaints. Hats off to the entire front office, they did a phenomenal job.