With no All-Stars on their roster, a bottom-three record in the league, and only a handful of nationally televised games, the Spurs have drummed up little to no attention from prominent media outlets this season. While most of San Antonio's players have found themselves out of the limelight during phase one of a full-throttle rebuild, Devin Vassell and Keldon Johnson earned a well-deserved shoutout from The Ringer.
Vassell claimed the 79th spot on their latest top-125 player rankings, and he received high praise from Michael Pina:
“Vassell’s ceiling is higher than it once seemed. But that evolution has brought greater expectations. He’s a lynchpin piece in a rebuild that could last until his prime. In the here and now, Vassell will get touches, shots, and an opportunity to bloom that otherwise might never have happened. What he does with it will have a huge impact on San Antonio’s future.”
Keldon came in a smidge lower than his teammate, taking 81st place, but he also fetched a glowing review from Kevin O'Connor:
"Johnson isn’t a household name yet, but Spurs fans have seen him develop from a raw talent who could torpedo his way to the basket into a well-rounded player with All-Star upside. After entering the NBA as a decisive, downhill scorer with average passing vision, he now routinely makes skip passes to corner 3-point shooters or hits floaters and midrange pull-ups."
Although only two Spurs graced the list, several Silver and Black alums littered the rankings, including Kawhi Leonard (8), DeMar DeRozan (33), Dejounte Murray (46), Derrick White (82), and Jakob Poeltl (92). All this talent passing through San Antonio over the last few seasons shows how challenging team building can be in the NBA, and the front office is back at square one after hitting the reset button last summer.
Vassell and Keldon have settled in as the primary scoring options for head coach Gregg Popovich following a blockbuster offseason trade that sent Dejounte Murray to Atlanta. With more responsibilities and the go-ahead to experiment on the offensive end, the young tandem has averaged 40.2 points, 8.7 rebounds, and 6.4 assists per game. While their increased production hasn't yielded much team success, both wings have made tangible strides in a positive direction.