After trading Dejounte Murray to the Atlanta Hawks this past offseason, almost everybody expected the San Antonio Spurs to be mired in the Victor Wembanyama sweepstakes. The Spurs' dynasty began when they landed Hall of Famer Tim Duncan with the first overall pick in 1997, and no one would blame the franchise for attempting to catch lightning in a bottle 26 years later. But not if breakout wing Devin Vassell has anything to say about the matter.
In the Spurs' latest 115-106 win over the Minnesota Timberwolves, a game they led by as many as 35 points, Vassell continued his good run of form, scoring a team-high 23 points in addition to nine rebounds and seven assists. And all the talk about the Spurs bottoming out has fueled what has been such an impressive start to the season from the third-year guard.
Devin Vassell was adamant in his assertion that no professional basketball player steps on the court to lose games on purpose.
“I try not to listen to the outside noise, but I’m not going to lie, it does get frustrating when everybody is talking about tanking, tanking, tanking,” Vassell said, per San Antonio Express-News (subscription required). “We are professional athletes. We all want to play. We all want to win. And that’s how we are going to approach every game. We don’t look at anybody and say, Oh, we are going to lose this game, or we are going to lose that game. Hell, no. We are competing every day and that’s what we are going to keep doing.”
A lot of pundits were down on the Spurs because of their overall inexperience, with Devin Vassell and fourth-year forward Keldon Johnson suddenly being thrust into go-to-guy roles, and other players such as Tre Jones being given newfound responsibilities. But with Gregg Popovich at the helm, Vassell knows that one variable the young Spurs can control is the effort they put in night-in, night-out.
“As a young team, we can’t control us making shots and missing shots,” Vassell added. “But I think we can always control our energy and our effort on the defensive end, and that’s been our mindset these past three games.”
The 11th overall pick of the 2020 NBA Draft, Devin Vassell looks every bit of a player who'll have a long, prosperous career in the NBA. At 6'5, Vassell's combination of shooting and defense, to go along with the improved ballhandling and playmaking he's shown thus far, should make him a fixture of the Spurs rotation for years to come.