It's Time for the Spurs to Unlock Devin Vassell's 3-Level Scoring

Devin Vassell, Darius Bazley
Devin Vassell, Darius Bazley / Ronald Cortes/GettyImages
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When the San Antonio Spurs drafted Devin Vassell 11th overall in 2020, the pick was quickly lauded as a match made in heaven. Between his tremendous upside as a deep shooting threat and instant defensive impact, Vassell filled an obvious void on the Spurs’ roster. Now midway through his second year in the NBA, Vassell is showing why he’s much more than a 3-and-D specialist.

Though he’s moved up in the Spurs’ depth chart, Vassell is still waiting in line behind a handful of players drafted before him. Besides a few starts during the heights of COVID protocols and short-term injuries, coach Gregg Popovich hasn’t prioritized him over the likes of Keldon Johnson or Lonnie Walker in his rotation.

Unlike his counterparts, Vassell fits nicely at a handful of positions. Closer to a wing than a guard, the 21-year-old primarily plays small forward with roughly a quarter of his minutes split between shooting guard and power forward this year. At this juncture, he needs to play off a lead guard when operating in the Spurs system. 

This oftentimes leaves him waiting on the wing for a kickout 3-pointer. There aren't many team sets that actively put the ball in Devin's hands without expecting him to launch a triple or zip the ball around the horn to a teammate within seconds of receiving it.

But when the rock is put in his hands with an opportunity to play freely, Vassell flashes the three-level scoring upside needed for any player looking to break the mold of their core archetype.

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