The San Antonio Spurs have one of the most exciting and promising young cores in the league. Aside from NBA All-Star Dejounte Murray and established players like Jakob Poeltl and Keldon Johnson, Devin Vassell and Joshua Primo lead the way as the future of the franchise.
Tre Jones, Keita Bates-Diop, Jock Landale, and Lonnie Walker are also capable of having excellent stretches. Even Joe Wieskamp has shown flashes of promise as a wing, and Zach Collins dominated his debut in the Silver and Black.
With all the young talent on the team, it’s interesting to look at who the most important piece of the Spurs’ return to contention is. There are three solid answers, but only one player is head and shoulders above the rest.
With the emergence of Zach Collins, the Spurs have seemingly found their backup center (or starter if Jakob Poeltl parts ways with the organization.) In a few G League appearances and limited play in his return, there was not a flaw in his game. He is only 24, fits the rebuild, and provides floor spacing and extra defense the Spurs could use.
Joshua Primo was this season’s lottery pick, and he is expected to develop into a star-caliber player someday. That being said, he won’t even be 25 until the 2027-28 season, and the organization has been very clear they will take their time allowing him to flourish into the exciting player he will eventually become.
The Most Important Player on the Spurs is Devin Vassell
The most important player for the Spurs’ future is the sophomore wing, Devin Vassell. He has already proven that he can be a starting quality player, and he's a talent the Spurs can and should build around. After trading Derrick White to Boston, it looks like Vassell will become the daily starter in the backcourt with superstar Dejounte Murray, which should bolster his already fast development.
Vassell is a career 35% shooter from deep, but expect that number to go up a lot very soon. Popovich and company have made it clear winning games is not their priority this season, which means Vassell has been able to work on his main issue a lot this season.
Vassell was drafted to be a shooter, and he has already shown that he can be a great one in San Antonio. He was often the first guy off the bench, even ahead of Lonnie Walker. Since White was traded away, Vassell is now the secondary ball-handler on the team.
Vassell also gets the ball in his hands when the team needs him to succeed. There is a ton of trust in him. In fact, he leads the team with 11 3-point attempts in clutch situations, meaning the game is within five points with under five minutes to play. Unfortunately, he hasn’t converted on a single one of those 11 shots.
While it’s not a good look at all to have your staring shooting guard be horrid in late-game situations, it shows that the Spurs are putting all their eggs in Vassell’s basket. His development into a big-shot hitter is paramount and San Antonio is willing to do whatever it takes to let that happen.
This season is a wash, but the trust Vassell is getting this early in his career is a great sign that he will be “the guy” moving forward, and the Spurs seem to be in good hands, especially as he improves.
Unlocking Devin Vassell and taking his game to the next step is the most important thing for the entire team as he takes the step from the sixth man to a bonafide starter.