How Devin Vassell Might Fit in New York

Kris Pursiainen

[This is the ninth prospect in the 2020 draft that I've done a breakdown on. You can read about Cole Anthony here, Deni Avdija here, Tyrese Haliburton here, Anthony Edwards here, RJ Hampton here, Killian Hayes here, Onyeka Okongwu here, or Obi Toppin here.]

Devin Vassell is a 6'7" 194 lb sophomore wing from Florida State. Vassell will be 20 by the time the draft occurs, but the extent to which some of his skills are already NBA ready is reason enough for a team to use a lottery pick to select him. 

Vassell's ability as a team defender alone makes him one of the better players on that side of the court from this year's class; whichever team ends up with Vassell will be getting a productive team defender who knows how to affect plays even when his man doesn't have the ball. He has an incredible motor in regards to both his individual and team defense: his closeouts, switches, and sharp defensive movements in general are all high energy and fundamentally sound. Whether jumping to try and block a shot, keeping his hands out or up to make things tough on his man, or staying active in the passing lanes and reaching for steals, Vassell will be making impressive defensive plays. I believe his 6'10" wingspan and technical ability will certainly be of benefit to him when doing so. 

Offensively, Vassell could step right into the "3 & D" role many teams have wings play in. In his sophomore season, he made 41.5% of his three-point attempts - of which there were 3.5 per game. The low volume implies that the percentage might not translate once he begins taking more shots, but the notably high percentage and his developed release demonstrate the baseline technical ability Vassell possesses to hit shots from deep. His high release on his jumpshot, footwork, and awareness on either end of the court will allow that skillset to easily translate to the NBA level.

Vassell isn't the strongest player, but using his ballhandling skills, Vassell is at times able to create space for himself to get a shot off even when he has no path to the rim. If he is able to drive into the paint, he has trouble finishing those looks at a high rate - a problem that may be at least partially addressed with a year in an NBA weight room. He fits the typical 3&D mold as of right now, but has certainly flashed potential to expand his game a bit further.

Despite the issues with "switchability" and beating defenders off the dribble due to his size, Vassell should be able to contribute right away to whatever rotation he becomes a part of this fall. As one of the class's best defenders, and a player with a growing offensive game that already involves high-level shooting, Vassell has a lot of potential in the NBA. He and RJ Barrett have a chance of becoming nice complements to each other on the wing, as his trouble finishing and willingness and ability to shoot from deep might serve as the perfect yang to the successes around the rim and failures from behind the arc of Barrett's rookie campaign. 

Vassell won't do much with the ball off the dribble, but he will knock down shots when open or able to use his size to get a shot off. This ability to space the floor would greatly benefit the likes of Mitchell Robinson, along with the rest of the Knicks' young core, due to the fact that the lack of spacing provided by last season's supporting cast resulted in too many packed paints for either Barrett or Robinson to operate in.

The absence of large separation between this year's lottery prospects makes it difficult to predict exactly where a player like Vassell will be taken. Will a team think they might have the next Donovan Mitchell-type player on their hands and use an early pick on him? Will his age cause him to slip a few spots in favor of younger and more "moldable" prospects? These questions can only be answered with time, rumors, and draft results. For now, Knicks fans can look forward to the NBA Draft Lottery on August 25, 2020. 

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