Everything You Need To Know About Devin Vassell

The label of 3-and-D wing is often overused when it comes to the draft, but Devin Vassell fits the description perfectly. With his outside shooting and versatile defense, Vassell should be an early lottery pick.

Finding 3-and-D wings who can play substantial minutes has grown into a necessity for teams to combat their opponent's versatility. Devin Vassell's shooting, team defense, and length make him not only an easy lottery pick but also the currently most well rounded 3-and-D wing prospect.

Throughout the season, Vassell has slowly risen from a promising Freshman prospect to a sure-fire lottery pick. He has an optimal physical profile for what teams look for on the wing, which is enhanced by his high basketball IQ.

Vassell exhibits his excellent feel for the game on both sides of the ball. On offense, he sees the floor well, moves exceptionally well off the ball, and knows how to create just enough space to get his shot off. Defensively, Vassell is rarely out of position and is one of the best team defenders in this class.

The 3-and-D label on draft prospects has become overused and banal because it is often misplaced. When a prospect's description is "hopefully he can develop an outside shot," he isn't a 3-and-D prospect and shouldn't be labeled as such. However, Devin Vassell has proven that he is a reliable shooter in all three phases and can defend nearly every position on the court.

As far as efficiency goes, few in the country were more efficient at scoring than Vassell. Per Synergy, Vassell scored 1.083 points per possession (PPP), ranked in the 95th percentile. Based on his role, Vassell worked mostly as an off-ball scorer. This role resulted in a lot of transition and spot-up situations in which Vassell thrived.

At first glance, Vassell's competence in transition is surprising. His lack of explosiveness and footspeed suggest he would struggle in the open court, and yet, he ranked in the 94th percentile in transition scoring with 1.411 PPP.

Even though Vassell isn't a top tier athlete, he uses his cunning, body control, and positioning to create simple scoring opportunities, as we can see below. As Vassell retrieves the long rebound, he is immediately looking to score. Knowing that a quicker defender is chasing him down, Vassell dribbles into the retreating defender's path and uses his length (he may get away with a bit of a push but nothing egregious) to slow him down; effectively dispatching him from the play. As he approaches the three-point line, his glance to the side informs him that his once streaking teammate is no longer open. By changing his path earlier, Vassell has now also shifted the last defender more towards the lane. This movement creates a slight opening for Vassell to change his drive directly towards the block. As Vassell takes off, he gets into the defender's chest to limit his shot-blocking ability while using his body to shield the ball and his length to keep the ball from the defender's outstretched hands.

Scoring in this fashion will be more difficult against NBA level athletes, but it is an excellent indication of Vassell's awareness of his opponents and himself. Vassell knows that he isn't the strongest or most explosive player on the floor, so he didn't try to go through the defender at the rim. He knows that he isn't the fastest, so to avoid being caught, he cutoff the quicker defender's path early. By playing to his strengths (utilizing his length to finish around the defender), Vassell shows that he is smart enough to adapt on the fly.

Vassell's most translatable offensive skill, though, is his off-ball shooting. In spot-up situations, Vassell scored 1.039 PPP (80th percentile) and shot 41.5% from three. Additionally, Vassell scored 1.22 PPP (87th percentile) when shooting off the catch and 1.247 PPP (92nd percentile) on three-point jump shots. This skill will immediately endear him to his teammates, who can rely on him when they need bailing out or must pass out of a drive.

As we can see below, Vassell's floor awareness and off-ball movement help create a wide-open three for himself. As Vassell swings the ball and relocates, he sets a quick rub screen that stuns the defender just enough to create an opening for his teammate to penetrate. Vassell continues his relocation, but as his teammate drives and the teammate in the corner cuts towards the rim, Vassell slides to the corner. This movement is a subtle movement of only a couple feet, but by doing so, he creates a much easier pass for his teammate, and he can now get a little bounce into his shot, instead of shooting from a standstill.

Again, we see how Vassell's constant off-ball movement creates space for an open jumper. As he initially drives, Vassell does an excellent job of finding his open teammate in the corner once the defense commits to him. From there, Vassell then pops back out to the elbow for better spacing. Once he realizes his teammate begins to drive to the middle of the floor, Vassell continues his movement by sliding to the top of the arc, where he gets a wide-open shot.

This move may seem obvious, but so many young players stay stagnant once they pass the ball. Vassell's subtle slide is instrumental for quality spacing and the offense to continue running if the first play doesn't work. By moving to the top of the key, Vassell's defender had to commit who to defend. If the defender stays with Vassell, then the ball-handler will likely get into the lane. By committing to the ball-handler, the defender let the top of the arc wide-open and lost track of Vassell's positioning, so he had no chance of recovering to the shot. If Vassell had stayed on the elbow, his defender would have been able to dig on the drive while still quickly recovering to Vassell.

When using an early lottery pick, you hope that the pick can do more than just act as an off-ball shooter. The dream is that he can also create his shot. This season, Vassell scored .852 PPP (68th percentile) when shooting off the dribble.

This stat is a reasonably good number and is entirely attributable to his shooting form. We saw in the earlier clips how Vassell has a high, smooth release. Thankfully, his form stays the same when he shoots off the dribble. Despite his success in this area, I have some legitimate concerns with Vassell's ability to create his shot.

Vassell's lack of footspeed, first step, and explosion truly hinder his ability to create his shot, as we can see below. Vassell gets a favorable matchup against a much smaller opposing guard. He should be able to back him down or separate from him. Instead, he takes a few dribbles and pulls up for a heavily contested mid-range jumper.

Here, we see a more common match up with Vassell against an opposing wing. This time he shows a little more creativity with his dribble moves but is still unable to get rid of the defender.

I understand that Vassell makes both shots. I love his release point and ability to make tough shots. What I don't like is his tendency to settle for lousy mid-range jumpers and his inability to separate from inferior college defenders. Vassell is a much better shooter than Jarrett Culver, but this reliance on making tough shots off the dribble concerns me. If he struggled to create space in college, how is he going to fare against NBA defenders?

Devin Vassell's off-ball shooting is undeniable, but his defense is what fascinates me. Despite his lack of athleticism, Vassell is still one of the best wing defenders as his length, instincts, and timing make him wonderfully disruptive.

As an on-ball defender, Vassell's length gives him a lot of room for error. He can recover quickly, poke the ball away with ease, and block shots from an unexpected range.

Vassell's most significant impression on defense, however, is with his off-ball and overall team defense. Vassell has incredible instincts and is always aware of his surroundings. Besides just having strong defensive positioning, Vassell is excellent at jumping passing lanes and rotating to help protect the rim.

In the below clip, we see how Vassell processes his rotations. Vassell has dropped down into the paint to help the dunker's spot because the ball-handler has beaten his initial defender, and his big man has to rotate to cut off the drive. On its own, this is a solid rotation that helps take away an easy bucket. Vassell is an elite team defender, though, so he has more work to do. As the ball-handler gets cut off, he must spin back to try and find an open teammate. Once the ball-handler picks up his dribble and turns away from the basket, Vassell knows that the dunker's spot is no longer a threat, and his man at the top of the arc is the only option. Vassell starts to rotate back the second the ball-handler spins away from the rim and jumps the passing lane for an easy steal and flashy dunk.

Florida State is typically a team full of great athletes with great size and length. This style of play led to Vassell frequently guarding numerous positions every game. Doing so in the NBA won't be much of a transition as he is already used to rotating and picking up the open man.

The below play begins with Vassell successfully denying the entry pass to the post to the larger opponent. North Carolina instead finds an open cutter who snakes his way to the rim. The result should be an easy layup, but since Vassell quickly disengaged from his man, he was able to rotate and use his length and timing to block the shot at the rim.

Here we see Vassell's great reaction to a cutter when he is defending on the wing. His teammate gets entirely fooled by a minimal ball fake, and his man has a wide-open lane to the rim. Vassell reacts immediately and makes his rotation the second the ball handler's eyes move to the cutter. Many young players would try to go for the steal and commit a foul. Instead, Vassell knows that he will get there a fraction late, so he goes to interfere with the cutter's path. By doing this, Vassell gets himself between the ball and the rim. He does a great job of staying vertical before blocking the shot and not committing a foul.

Vassell has some of the best defensive instincts in this draft. He may not fill up the stat sheet with turnovers or shock you with suffocating on-ball defense, but he will do all the little things exceptionally well that lead to good team defense. He times his rotations flawlessly, he has the length to we a weakside rim protector, and he has the versatility and willingness to guard anyone on the floor.

Devin Vassell may be the only genuine 3-and-D prospect in this draft. He is a great off-ball shooter who has a high, fluid release. Defensively, he can guard anyone on the floor while being a menace away from the ball. His two-way versatility is reflective of games like Khris Middleton, Robert Covington, and Tayshaun Prince.

Devin Vassell likely won't turn into an All-NBA level player or reach the expectations most fans have for a player who is selected high in the lottery. What he will do, though, is be an incredibly good role player at the least. If he can improve his ability to create space off the dribble, his ceiling will skyrocket. Until then, Vassell is currently the best 3-and-D prospect right now in a draft full of role players and uncertainties.

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