Latest loss exposes how Spurs are misusing Devin Vassell this season

Devin Vassell, Jordan Hawkins
Devin Vassell, Jordan Hawkins / Jonathan Bachman/GettyImages

In the days of the old guard, the San Antonio Spurs ran their offense under one strict principal. Even from the perspective of a casual viewer, that rule was straightforward: The best players will touch the ball on almost every possession. Running actions through your most dynamic scorers and playmakers consistently applies pressure to the opposing defense during the game. That philosophy is seemingly lost and is one of many problems that reared its head against the New Orleans Pelicans.

Devin Vassell should be one of two focal points when Victor Wembanyama is on the floor. Without Wemby, he needs to be the main character early and often. At the eight-minute mark in the second quarter, the former Florida State standout had taken three shots. Meanwhile, Zach Collins had seven, and Cedi Osman had six. Vassell finished the first half with five field goal attempts. That is far from the type of output Spurs fans expect from their recently paid shooting guard.

The San Antonio Spurs still need to define player roles

The season is still young, but the sample size is large enough to start forming educated opinions about the product on the floor. The Spurs operate their offense like the pieces are interchangeable at times. The core pieces are not polished enough to be referred to as a big three or big four, but everyone knows the best players on this team. Though the natural game flow often determines who shoots the ball in their hands, Vassell needs to take charge of shaping possessions.

This latest matchup against the Pelicans perfectly illustrated how disjointed the offense continues to be as it struggles to find a consistent identity. San Antonio would be wise to get their premier scorer easy baskets to establish his rhythm and cement a valid threat from tip-off. Even when Vassell gets early looks, they often come from highly contested threes or long twos. Deep midrange jumpers are the worst shot in basketball, and routinely leaning on them bails out the defense.

Vassell finished the game with a team-high 14 points in 26 minutes off the bench, but he only registered 12 shots and one trip to the free throw line. The Silver and Black need more aggression from their fourth-year swingman. He possesses an array of effective moves accentuated by a feathery touch, but Gregg Popovich must get more out of his second-best player on a nightly basis. That will be the key to San Antonio unlocking their offensive potential this season.