The Trail Blazers’ 2019-20 season is firmly in the rearview mirror and the 2020 NBA Draft is now on the horizon. As of now, the draft is scheduled for November 18. Unlike last year, the Blazers enter the process with two picks at their disposal. Portland currently owns the No. 16 pick in the first round and the No. 46 pick in the second round.
Today’s profile covers Florida State wing Devin Vassell. Vassell is one of the premiere three-and-D prospects in this year’s draft and is an ideal fit for the Blazers at No. 16.
- Height: 6’6”
- Weight: 180
- Wingspan: 6’10”
- Shoots: Right
- Position: G/F
- Age: 20
- Projected draft range: 7-17
- PTS: 12.7 | Per 40: 17.6
- REB: 5.1 | Per 40: 7.0
- STL: 1.4 | Per 40: 1.9
- BLK: 1.0 | Per 40: 1.3
- FG%: 49.0
- 3P%: 41.5
- FT%: 73.8
I generally start this section with a player’s offensive strengths, but Vassell really separates himself from other wing prospects with his defense. He’s a great team defender who recognizes passing lanes and tags cutters well; his 6’10” wingspan leads to a lot of deflections and steals in those scenarios. He closes out on shooters well, contesting the shot but also staying on the ground to counter a pump fake. On the ball, Vassell is horizontally quick and doesn’t fall for dribble fakes.
Offensively, the Florida State wing is a solid outside shooter – he made more than 41% of his attempts from three as both a freshman and sophomore on limited attempts. It appears as though he altered his shot form during the offseason, which might affect that high percentage. Vassell plays with high energy, breaking out in transition or crashing the offensive glass at opportune moments for easy baskets. He also has a floater game.
Despite impressive three-point shooting percentages, Vassell is fairly limited as a perimeter threat. He won’t get open via off-ball movement and needs his feet set, something he doesn’t do extraordinarily quickly, before hoisting up a triple. He’s also not a strong ball handler and doesn’t have a creative arsenal of dribble moves. That, combined with his pedestrian burst, kept him from beating defenders for chances at the rim. When he did make it to the paint, he struggled to finish through contact.
On defense, Vassell doesn’t change direction smoothly despite being laterally quick. Additionally, he can be posted up by stronger wings; he doesn’t play too physical on defense. Both factors limit his on-ball defensive success against shifty guards or bigger forwards.
As a sophomore, Vassell led Florida State in both points and rebounds. He spearheaded the team’s switch-heavy defense, serving as a vocal communicator to guide the FSU starters. His contributions on both ends played a big role in the school winning its first ever regular season ACC Championship. He received All-ACC 2nd team honors and was named to the Midseason Finalists lists for 2020 Naismith Award Defensive Player of the Year and the Julius Erving Small Forward of the Year by the Basketball Hall of Fame.
An additional note: It wasn’t technically during the 2019-20 season, but between Vassell declaring for the draft and now, he altered his shot form. His release is now behind his head and the overall form is slower, something to keep an eye on going forward.
Vassell has the potential to be one of the best three-and-D wings in this draft, and his skillset could immediately help teams drafting in the mid-to-late lottery. There are some concerns about his shooting which could impact his draft stock; he has to be a floor spacer to stay on the floor no matter how good his defense is (see: Lu Dort). He won’t beat defenders off the dribble or be a reliable shot creator for teammates, so his offensive value must come via opportune shooting.
Defensively, Vassell should benefit any squad. He thwarts offensive motions by impeding passing and cutting lanes, as well as his smart closeouts. Those traits will translate to the NBA. His on-ball prowess should allow him to pick up multiple assignments at the next level.
Vassell is one of the best defensive prospects in the draft, showing intelligence and skill both on and off the ball. Portland needs a player who can make the right rotations to bail out its guards, as well as someone who can pick up the opponent’s best scorer. With experience and some development, Vassell can be that guy.
However, Vassell might be another question mark in terms of outside shooting, something the Blazers can’t afford. He doesn’t need to immediately evolve as a ball handler, shot creator or at-the-rim finisher when sharing the floor with Damian Lillard and CJ McCollum. He does need to knock down open threes and occasionally break out in transition for an easy basket. Ultimately, even with the questions about his new shooting form, Vassell would be a valuable addition at No. 16.