Devin Vassell is stepping in as the Spurs' new finisher
Not all wins are valuable, particularly in a season where the goal is to land a top talent in the NBA Draft. But young, rebuilding teams need to learn how to collectively close out winnable games, and that starts with finding a player to give the ball to down the stretch. Despite missing the first of the Spurs' two latest wins, Devin Vassell returned last night and is slowly proving that he is now the Spurs' go-to guy to get a bucket in tight games.
In recent seasons, the Spurs' finishers were often one or both of Dejounte Murray or DeMar DeRozan, both of whom were able to take their defenders off the dribble and rise up for a shot in the midrange. One of the lingering questions that remained after their departure was who would fill that role, and whether or not a player capable of doing that even existed on the roster. As I suspected would be the case, Devin Vassell has risen to the occasion in an incredibly impressive way.
Vassell is currently leading the Spurs' regular rotation players in pull-up field goal attempts per game (6.4) and is knocking down a solid 40.9% of those shots, which leads roughly half of the roster despite the much higher volume of shots. Furthermore, when eliminating Vassell's pull-up three-point shots from that field goal percentage, it shoots up to 46.8%. Considering he's taking nearly double the shots off the dribble per game that he took last season, this is an extremely encouraging sign of what he'll be able to do in the future.
The next step for Vassell to become an elite late-game scorer is to work on his finishing around the rim and stretching his pull-up shooting out to three-point range. If he can continue to improve in those areas and find the balance between offensive and defensive effort, he may have a long and successful NBA future ahead.