After the shocking trade of All-Star Dejounte Murray, the San Antonio Spurs now find themselves in unfamiliar territory. The Spurs have finally fully bottomed out for the first time in more than 30 years and appear to be facing a much longer rebuild.
Fortunately, two of the team's best young players, Devin Vassell and Joshua Primo, are already working hard to get better. Vassell and Primo were selected 11th and 12th overall in the 2020 and 2021 NBA Drafts and are wisely taking advantage of the long offseason.
So far, the results have been impressive, with both having clearly bulked up even before the summer officially started.
All of that should come in handy next season now that he'll have a much bigger role with Murray and Lonnie Walker gone. Last season, in both the NBA G League and the NBA, Primo proved capable of playing with the ball in his hands. Still, he'll need to get better, so it's probably not a coincidence that he's working on his handles this summer.
In fact, it's possible that he'll start at point guard and be tasked with helping run the team's offense, which is a lot of responsibility for a teenager. However, the Spurs wouldn't do so if they didn't think that he could handle it.
Devin Vassell's time to shine is now
While Primo may be thrust into a new role, Vassell has already had a chance to adjust to his. Vassell began starting back in March after Derrick White was traded, and his play down the stretch helped the team make the play-in tournament. Now that he'll likely be the Spurs' second-best player next season, he'll be given more offensive freedom and counted on to help carry the scoring load as well as defend.
With Murray and Walker gone and Doug McDermott and Josh Richardson likely on their way out, his shooting will also be key. Those four players combined to attempt more than half of the team's threes last season, but the Spurs likely won't replace their shooting in free agency or in trades.
Thus, Vassell, who led the team by averaging 5.4 3-point attempts, will have to help pick up the slack by potentially taking a couple more per game. That alone won't fix the Spurs' shooting woes, but it could be crucial for Vassell to take the next step offensively.
Ready for bigger roles?
The Spurs' sudden offseason shakeup means that Vassell and Primo will have much larger roles next season, which will provide both of them with a valuable opportunity. For example, Vassell played more on-ball in college and will now have the chance to do so with the Spurs.
He’s already shown that he’s an effective scorer inside of the arc, shooting 49.2% on 5.4 2-pointers per game, but he'll now have to create more of those shots himself. If Vassell can, it will help him make a major scoring leap in Murray's absence.
Primo will also be given the same opportunity since the Spurs will count on Primo and Tre Jones to create. Jones appears ready for it, as evidenced by him having one of the best assist-to-turnover ratios in the NBA last season. Primo, on the other hand, has the potential but not the experience, so he'll be thrown into the fire.
That may hurt the Spurs in the short-term, but they won’t exactly be competing for the playoffs, let alone the play-in tournament, next season anyways. Therefore, starting Primo will give him the perfect chance to learn in hopes that he’ll quickly develop into a true point guard.
Ultimately, the Spurs have two young and talented players who will be relied on to play bigger roles now that Murray's no longer on the team. Luckily, Vassell and Primo are already working hard to improve and should be able to take their games to the next level next season.