3 ways Devin Vassell can become a top 5 shooting guard in the NBA

Devin Vassell has established himself as one of the core pieces of the San Antonio Spurs but he can still take his game to another level.

San Antonio Spurs v Sacramento Kings
San Antonio Spurs v Sacramento Kings / Thearon W. Henderson/GettyImages
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You have to look past their abysmal record to see it but something is brewing in San Antonio. The team is, by many metrics, one of the worst in the NBA but the nightly box scores don't tell the full story.

Since the turn of the new year, the quartet of Devin Vassell, Jeremy Sochan, Tre Jones, and Victor Wembanyama has found their stride. These four want to play at a frantic pace, strangle opposing offenses, and swing the ball around until they can find a good look. All of that has led to a +4.6 net rating, which gives some level of validation to the hope Spurs fans have for this group.

This group is the core but the Spurs aren't done building yet, not by a long shot. The Spurs are guaranteed at least one top-five pick this season, with another top-ten selection that could convey if the Toronto Raptors can pull their act together down the stretch. Armed with those picks and plenty of cap space, the Spurs are in a great position to build a competitive roster around their rookie sensation and young supporting cast.

Whether it's through the draft, free agency, or trade, the Spurs are sure to add fresh talent from one source or another. But that shouldn't take any focus off of the work they need to do internally. And perhaps no player is as critical to the team's long-term plans of building around Victor Wembanyama as Devin Vassell.

Vassell has improved his game every year he's been in the league and has established himself as one of the best young wings today. You could argue that he's one of the best five shooting guards in the NBA today but it's not a certainty. And there's a significant gap between him and Devin Booker, Anthony Edwards, and Donovan Mitchell.

If you agree that those three comprise the top tier of shooting guards, Vassell likely slots into tier two alongside guards like Desmond Bane, Anfernee Simons, Tyler Herro, and Bradley Beal. Focusing on improvement in these three key areas will help him jump to tier one and lock himself in as one of the top-five shooting guards in the NBA.

Improving as a playmaker is critical for Vassell and the San Antonio Spurs

Vassell came into the NBA with limited playmaking ability but has made significant strides to improve as a passer over the past three seasons. That's been evident this year, as he's averaged a career-high four assists per game and assisted on a career-best 18.6 percent of San Antonio buckets. But to take his own game and the Spurs' overall potential to the next level, he'll need to continue to improve here.

With Tre Jones still on the roster and the Spurs likely to add another guard through the draft or via trade, it's unlikely that Vassell will ever have to prioritize creating for his teammates to the same degree that Devin Booker or Donovan Mitchell do.

That said, it's easy to see how the Spurs offensive could thrive with a playmaking hydra led by Jones, Vassell, Jeremy Sochan, and someone like Rob Dillingham or Trae Young. Distributing the playmaking burden across a group that relentlessly attacks the defense and looks for open threes or easy lobs to Vic can take the Spurs' offense from one of the worst in the league to one of the best. In order to get there, Devin needs to continue to improve as a playmaker, especially off the bounce.

Vassell is already proficient in pick-and-roll situations. He averages 0.94 points per possession as the ball handler, which isn't far off from where Donovan Mitchell (0.96) and Anthony Edwards (0.98) come in but still fairly below Devin Booker (1.07). Still, Vassell's increased comfortability in pick-and-roll situations has been clear to see this season.

There's little doubt that Vassell can become an elite pick-and-roll operator. He's on his way there already. But focusing his energy on improving in this area of the game will make him and the Spurs that much more dangerous on offense.