The second-year forward has seen a 33% increase in minutes this season, and his production is following suit. The 41 minutes he played on New Year's Day marked a new career-high as he finished with 19 points on 5-of-12 shooting from beyond the arc. He also tallied four rebounds, four assists, and three steals in just his second start of the season and ninth start overall.
Vassell is one of the most versatile players on the team, capable of covering just about every position on defense while frequently displaying efficient offense. While Keita Bates-Diop has had some flashes, I don't think it's controversial to say Devin should get the starting nod over him when some guys are out, and he might even deserve the start when the team is fully healthy.
Even though it came due to the Spurs being short-handed and going into overtime, the increased playing time for Vassell is an encouraging sign from Coach Gregg Popovich. Derrick White is the only Spur who has logged more minutes in a game this season, and it came in the same overtime loss.
Devin Vassell's Time is Now, and He Must Take Advantage
With Walker, McDermott, and possibly Murray and Bates-Diop missing more time, the runway is wide-open for Devin to continue to showcase his all-around talents. After eclipsing the 14-point mark a total of four times in his rookie season, he's already done so 11 times this season, including six games scoring 19 or more.
The 12 attempts from the outside marked a new career-high for Vassell, and seeing him searching for his shot more should be a welcome sight, team injuries or not. One of the few knocks I can think of about his game has been a tendency to shy away from the spotlight and not be as assertive as he should be.
Devin has everything you need to be a star in this league, and I truly believe he will be one day. After all, he's only 21 and has shown growth beyond his years with just over a full season's worth of games under his belt. But his upward trajectory can grow exponentially with opportunities like this one.
So far, Vassell is off to a good start with his increased role, but if he calls his own number more often and searches for his shot while keeping up his stellar defense, he can make yet another leap in his career -- one that I see as inevitable no matter what.