The San Antonio Spurs again beat the Phoenix Suns, this time in convincing fashion, though they lost Devin Vassell in the process. Vassell missed the second half of the game after experiencing groin tightness. Coach Gregg Popovich didn't sound optimistic about Vassell's injury prognosis, leading to questions about just how long the Spurs' second-best player will be out for.
After missing 42 games last season with a knee injury, the fact that this injury is unrelated is a relief, though it comes at a particularly bad time for San Antonio. Whether it be a week or a month, the Spurs will need other players to step up in his absence.
Doing so would help the team avoid losing the positive momentum they built up by beating the Suns not once but twice on their home floor. Fortunately, they have several options that they can hopefully rely on to pick up the slack in Vassell's absence, though it will likely be more than one player. With that in mind, let's take a look at three players who will need to pick up the slack while Vassell is out of the lineup.
3.) Cedi Osman
Through the Spurs' first five games of the season, Cedi Osman has been the team's second-best player off the bench. Considering that the Spurs acquired him from the Cleveland Cavaliers in a salary dump so the Cavs could sign and trade for Max Strus, it's clear that he has exceeded expectations thus far.
He's averaged a terrific 12 points, shot 50% on his nearly five threes per game and provided instant energy off the bench. Osman has also played better-than-expected defense and is proving to be a capable passer. While he is unlikely to start in Vassell's absence, he may see an uptick in minutes after averaging just under 21 minutes per game to start the season.
Given how well he has played, that likely wouldn't be a bad thing. One of the reasons the Spurs have been successful in late-game situations against the Houston Rockets and Phoenix Suns is how well they play with blended lineups that feature bench players such as Osman.
His presence has been a big reason why San Antonio ranks in the top-12 in 3-point shooting and around league average in offensive rating after finishing 26th and 29th in those categories last season. With Vassell out of the lineup, Popovich could entrust Osman to play a larger role following a sizzling start.