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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Attacking and getting to the line at a higher rate will help Vassell & Spurs

If there is one thing that great shooting guards typically do that Vassell doesn't, it's attack the rim and get to the line at a high rate. Admittedly, Vassell's game more closely resembles the styles of Khris Middleton and Klay Thompson than Devin Booker or DeMar DeRozan but it would still help to see him attack the cup more than he does today.

Vassell averages just under nine drives per game, noticeably fewer than peers such as Jimmy Butler (14.8), Anthony Edwards (14.7), or even Bradley Beal (11.8). It's not that he's ineffective; he shoots 55 percent on attempts off of drives—better than all of the players we just named—he just doesn't attack the rim as frequently.

Why this matters for Vassell and the Spurs is that by shying away from opportunities to attack the rim, Devin is passing up opportunities to create contact and get to the line. When you think about a lot of the great shooting guards in the NBA, many of them were able to finish through contact and convert from the line. Vassell can do both; he's just not showing it today.

Devin is averaging just three free-throw attempts per game this season. That's fewer than Coby White, Kelly Oubre Jr., Cam Thomas, and Colin Sexton. As a team, the Spurs are shooting just 20 free throws a game, the second-fewest in the league. They shoot a solid 78 percent from the line but that doesn't matter quite as much as it could when you're getting there as infrequently as they are today.

Getting to the line isn't a prerequisite for being an elite shooting guard. Klay never got to the line at a particularly high rate and neither did Ray Allen after he arrived in Boston. If that's who Vassell is more closely modeling his game after, then more power to him. But if that's the route he's headed down then, as outlined in the previous point, fans need to see more consistency from behind the arc.

Nobody should expect that Devin will ever be a slasher like Ant or Booker but you can't deny that drawing fouls, getting opponents into foul trouble, and getting to the line at a higher rate wouldn't help the Spurs. It's not the most important thing he should focus on but it should be on the short list.

All of these points aim at one goal: building out Devin's offensive game and turning him into a reliable 1B to Vic's 1A. He's well on his way there already but if he can continue to improve as a playmaker, demand constant attention behind the arc and get to the line at a higher rate than he is today, it won't be long before he's widely acknowledged as one of the best players at his position.

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