2020 NBA Draft: A deep dive into Devin Vassell, a surefire first-round pick

Devin Vassell (Photo by Michael Hickey/Getty Images)
Devin Vassell (Photo by Michael Hickey/Getty Images) /
2 of 6
Devin Vassell defenders (Photo by Ryan M. Kelly/Getty Images)
Devin Vassell defenders (Photo by Ryan M. Kelly/Getty Images) /

Devin Vassell’s versatile defense

In the modern NBA, defensive versatility is all the rage. Teams want players who can guard multiple positions at multiple spots on the floor in multiple ways. There lies, arguably, the main reason for Vassell’s sudden rise in his draft stock: his very versatile defensive impact.

Vassell, who again stands somewhere around the range of 6-foot-6, has an assuring wingspan of 6-foot-9; though it would not be too big of a surprise to find out that he’s even longer. His added weight and strength only makes him a more imposing defensive threat.

Take note of that in the following clip, where Vassell disrupts Louisville’s attack numerous times by switching onto four different offenders in one possession.

That ability alone should have his name highlighted on every NBA team’s draft board. Switching is all the rage in the NBA (whether it be off-ball or in the pick and roll). Vassell’s frame and willingness to compete with any offender of any size will allow him to thrive in that atmosphere.

His length allows him to both successfully trail behind smaller guards and deny larger big men; the prospects of him being able to guard one-through-four in the NBA is not this crazy, esoteric idea.

Related Story. RJ Hampton’s scouting report. light

Vassell is a good on-ball defender, evidently (per Synergy, he ranked in the top 9 percent of all college isolation defenders last year). He doesn’t necessarily have the most active feet and hips, but again, being long sometimes allows a player to forget about their quickness. The real gold mine though, within his defense, is with the impact he has as an off-ball defender.

Vassell’s long arms help him there as well (noticing a trend here?). His ability to intercept passes is reminiscent of an NFL free safety. There are times where he can trail away from his offender off-ball (essentially leaving him open) but still force away any potential passes, simply thanks to his threatening presence as a pass-picker. He’s an off-ball manipulator and the offenders around him seem to be aware of that when passing his direction.

Vassell averaged 1.4 steals per game last year; a lot of those steals were miraculous displays of his off-ball “stretching” ability (think Reed Richards, AKA Mister Fantastic, meets basketball).

Vassell is a defensive playmaker; he can generate instant power/transition plays, all he requires is one poorly calculated pass in his direction. The combination of his one-through-four guarding capabilities and his off-ball presence would make him an instant asset for whatever team that gets lucky enough to draft him this summer (or this fall?).

The perks that a team will get with Vassell is not a one-way avenue, though. He also, for example, has tremendous shooting upside; which only makes him that much more alluring as a prospect.