Last year, the San Antonio Spurs witnessed the year of Dejounte Murray. The homegrown point guard made his first All-Star game and set the franchise record for most triple-doubles. Behind him, Keldon Johnson was quietly putting up career numbers and was expected to be the star of the team after Murray was traded away.
Johnson has been playing lights-out so far in this young season, but it’s been third-year shooting guard Devin Vassell who has cemented himself as perhaps the best player on the roster. Vassell is yet to have a single-digit scoring night and is shooting an insane 47.7% from behind the arc, which is presently 16th in the entire league.
Spurs: Devin Vassell is emerging as a top-tier shooting guard
In an Association dominated by shooting guard and wing talent, Vassell is on pace to be one of the best. His 21.3 points per game average are just the tip of the iceberg, as he plays a well-rounded game and can cover all facets of dominant basketball. When he shoots the ball, fans know it’s going in, and in the waning minutes of a close game, you want him on the opponent’s best player night in and night out.
It’s not just that he gets a lot of touches on a middling Spurs roster. Vassell is the best scorer on the team, but he’s also one of the best scorers in the league. His 1.16 points per possession are third in the entire league, behind All-NBA players Steph Curry and Jayson Tatum. Curry is shooting 41% from behind the arc, and Tatum is stuck at 38%, so one could easily make the case that Vassell is the most efficient player in the league.
At 22 years old and in only year three, Vassell’s season is unprecedented. Let’s look at some of the best shooting guards in the league: Bradley Beal, Jaylen Brown, James Harden, Donovan Mitchell, and Klay Thompson. By all of their year three seasons, only Mitchell averaged more points, and only Brown averaged fewer minutes. No one comes close to the 47.7% from three, with Thompson hitting 41%. Oh, and Vassell is more willing to shoot the ball.
In year three, Vassell is second in assists and rebounds behind only Mitchell, who is now a real MVP candidate. His defense is on par with everyone else listed.
Now, you might think all those players played on bad teams. That couldn’t be further from the truth. In Beal’s third year, his Wizards made the second round. Klay Thompson’s Warriors were on the precipice of the greatest dynasty ever, Mitchell and Brown were both on playoff teams, and Harden won Sixth Man of the Year and made the NBA Finals in his third year.
Vassell is not fortunate enough to be on a team that good at this point in his career, but numbers don’t lie: he is quickly joining some elite company and could very realistically pass some great players on his way to the top.