Gregg Popovich Gives Thoughts on Spurs Rookies Devin Vassell, Tre Jones Ahead of NBA Season

With the NBA season just under a week away, many teams had just a bit of time to prepare following the restart several months ago. That includes the San Antonio Spurs, who have several rookies on the roster with Devin Vassell and Tre Jones. Both of the team’s newcomers got some minutes in the Spurs’ three preseason games, and based on comments from coach Gregg Popovich, he’s pleased with what he’s seen so far.

Vassell, Jones Gained a Bit of Preseason Experience

The Spurs had a lottery pick in the 2020 NBA Draft, something they hadn’t had in quite some time. With their No. 11 pick, they chose Devin Vassell from Florida State. He’s likely to play a key role for the team as they go forth this season, especially due to injuries that have sidelined Derrick White and Keldon Johnson.

While the team went 0-3 in their preseason games, Vassell logged some decent minutes off the bench. In his 26 minutes against the Houston Rockets on Thursday night, he shot 8-for-13 and recorded 18 points in a solid effort. He also grabbed six boards, had three assists, and stole the ball twice.

In the team’s other game versus Houston, he got 32 minutes off the bench. The rookie tallied 11 points, four rebounds, four steals, and an assist in the 112-98 loss. In the Spurs’ 121-108 loss to OKC, Vassell had 12  points, six boards, three steals, two assists, and a block for a full stat line.

In the second round of the 2020 draft, the Spurs added Duke Blue Devils prospect Tre Jones. The 6-foot-3 guard hasn’t had quite as much playing time as Vassell, but still got a bit of experience in the preseason.

Jones played seven minutes versus OKC, and then had games of 12 minutes and four minutes against the Rockets. He hasn’t scored more than three points in a game but is still learning as he gets some time on the floor.

What Does Gregg Popovich Think of the Rookies?

With teams reporting for practice earlier this month, and preseason games taking place over the past several weeks, the regular season now looms. For the San Antonio Spurs, it officially begins with a game against the Memphis Grizzlies on Wednesday, December 23.

Since the rookies had no Summer League and a very quick transition into NBA action, it’s meant having to learn and adapt to a new system quickly. However, head coach Gregg Popovich thinks they’re doing fine so far.

“They’ve done a good job,” Popovich said, per News 4 San Antonio. “They all picked up on what we’re doing during the practices.”

In addition to learning a new system after their college days, Devin Vassell and Tre Jones also have to learn other aspects of the game. That includes the way players communicate on the court, as well as the style of play.

“They’re trying to figure out the language,” Popovich noted. “The effort has been great and they been very attentive.”

Luckily for the two rookies, they have one of the greatest coaches in the history of the NBA with Pop. They’ve also got a number of veteran players to help them out, including Patty Mills and DeMar DeRozan.

“It’ just me being a vet,” DeRozan said with regards to helping out Devin Vassell. “A lot of time, even in practice, he comes to me and he asks questions and that’s big for a young guy to go to our vets.”

DeRozan was once in Vassell’s shoes, learning about the Toronto Raptors from the team veterans. That ultimately gave him the tools and confidence in the development of his own game. He’s now a multiple-time All-Star helping newcomers learn the Spurs’ system and NBA style.

“They were all in my shoes at one point. So for me to learn from them is just great,” Vassell said as far as having the Spurs’ veteran players to help.