Devin Vassell is the Next Man Up in San Antonio

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Devin Vassell
SAN ANTONIO, TX - APRIL 3: Devin Vassell #24 of the San Antonio Spurs shoots the ball during the game against the Portland Trail Blazers on April 3, 2022 at the AT&T Center in San Antonio, Texas. Copyright 2022 NBAE (Photos by Michael Gonzales/NBAE via Getty Images)

In the last nine months, the San Antonio Spurs roster has undergone a number of changes. That has left fans left playing Tetris trying to put together a good starting lineup. The team is known for playing traditional basketball, so the best way to construct the starting five is to indicate which player most embodies the qualities of their “position”. One player that has Spurs nation on their toes is Devin Vassell.

With former teammates like Dejounte Murray, Lonnie Walker IV, and Derrick White on the court, Vassell seemed to be confined to a “3-and-D” role. The main goal on offense was getting himself open for the three and knocking down the shot. His role, however, first began to expand once White was traded to the Boston Celtics.

Devin Vassell is Poised For a Bigger Role in San Antonio

The NBA is becoming more saturated with players who are expanding the horizon of their traditional positions, and versatility on the court is more valuable as the game changes. No matter how blurred the lines become between positions, the average player will always have their strengths and weakness. The role Vassell plays on the court in the next season will have a major effect on the success of the team.

Vassell debuted in the starting lineup earlier in February against the Atlanta Hawks. He helped bring the win to San Antonio after having a beautiful 20-point game in his hometown. Still, he remained faithful to getting open for a three, putting in both perimeter attempts for the night. Although he executed the three well, however, he attempted and knocked down more shots from inside the arc.

Since becoming a starter, Vassell’s playing time increased to an average of 30 minutes per game. He doubled his points per game average from last season going from 5.5 to 12.3. During his playing time, Vassell showcased his ability to read switches and re-evaluate his next move in time to create a new scoring opportunity for his team. He’s agile on his feet and can get to where he needs to be to become useful outside of just scoring. In games where his scoring was low, he contributed elsewhere with assists and rebounds. The question is where does an ever-evolving player like Vassell fit with this new rebuild?

Where Does Devin Vassell Fit in a Starting Five?

As far as a position, I could see Vassell sinking more into that shooting guard role, though he has the skill to roam like a small forward. I’m expecting his points per game to at least increase to a solid 18 by the end of next season. He will be able to show the expansion of his skillset with more freedom on the court to control the ball. Quite frankly, he’s a third-year vet who has earned respect from this audience as a key player. Not having to rely on an assist, strong ball-handling will allow him to maneuver more candidly.

Getting open for the pass or shooting contested shots is a groove I think he has maintained. I do think with him touching the ball more often, soon creating his own space with the ball will increase the number of shots he can take down in a game. If he does master this quality, it would be a dangerous game for any defender looking to block his shot. What’s great too, is Vassell has no fear of shooting from all angles.

One of the beautiful things about watching Vassell play is how smooth he moves and his assurance of himself. There were many instances last season where the sniper put up a shot moments before the buzzer. In last season’s opener, with the final possession and three seconds left in the third quarter against the Orlando Magic, Vassell didn’t hesitate to put up a corner three. On the dribble, his turnover ratio isn’t even a single-digit number because he is so cautious with the rock.

Go Ahead and Invest in Vassell Spurs Fans

It is about time Spurs Nation starts appreciating the security they have in Vassell to be a good player. With the work he’s put in over the summer, I believe this season is where he starts to show he is a great player. Hopefully, with his name being said more, people will learn to pronounce it correctly too. I wouldn’t even be surprised to see Vassell moments in more NBA Instagram compilations.

Some may have seen Vassell’s potential sooner and just questioned his box office appeal. That may simply be because he came into this organization looking to learn not to showboat. Now that he’s been called to the front lines, Vassell looks to exude the confidence and leadership the team needs. That’s exactly what San Antonio needs from anyone looking to be a part of the next championship run.

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