Florida State wing Devin Vassell, a projected lottery pick in next month's NBA Draft, is a prototypical 3-and-D wing. He shot 41.7% from 3-point range in two seasons with the Seminoles on 168 attempts. He rated in the 80th percentile as a spot-up shooter last season, per Synergy data. And he finished in the top-15 in the ACC in both steals and blocks, profiling as a difference-making defender whose nearly 7-foot wingspan has quietly propelled him up draft boards all summer.
But a concerning development this week has emerged: A video circulating on social media showed Vassell's shooting form has changed -- and for the worse. In the video, in which he's launching catch-and-shoot 3-pointers, the form elongates the speed of his release and his launch point has changed as well.
Here is the video.
Even without a side-by-side comparison, it's easy to see that this doesn't look right. Look at how unbalanced he is here in a screenshot at the top of his release. His elbows (!) are almost square with the rim. The ball is cocked back so far behind his head it looks as if he's rearing back for a dunk.
Then compare that to this: a screenshot of the top of his release from a shot last season. Here, you can see the ball's launch point is directly above the head and not cocked behind the head. And his body is straight up and down in this shot. With good balance, he's able to pull up quick, get into his shooting motion and drop it from the top of the key.
Here's another example of what his shot looks like, this screenshot from a different angle. Again here, good balance. No fish-flopping motion like the video we saw. Maybe falling forward a bit, which is perfectly fine. And the release point directly above the head.
For more context, here's a highlight reel I put together of some of his shots from last season at Florida State.
Funny enough, the results of the new video showing Vassell's new form is being ignored, so it's worth noting he made every 3-point attempt in the video. But the outcome doesn't meet expectations. He's already got a longer release for a player projected to function in large part as a catch-and-shoot player at the next level. If anything, he should be working on speeding up the release. Instead, he's added more motion, and further complicated a generally reliable shooting motion.
Workout videos like this one -- which is just 20 seconds in length, we must remember -- don't always tell the full story. Maybe he was messing around and we're overreacting. (The video has since been deleted from his team on social media, though it's been shared elsewhere.) Maybe making sweeping judgments based upon two shots in a video on social media is ill-advised. But maybe, just maybe, this is a very serious development to be monitored. Vassell is a bona fide lottery prospect who could go as high as No. 6 in this draft. I have him going No. 12 and Gary Parrish has him going No. 13 in our latest mock drafts.
Did one of the draft's most consistent shooters change his form a month before the draft? It's possible. Teams will want to make heads and tails of what we're seeing here. But unless there's more evidence of a drastic change, we're in a wait-and-see mode as prospects gear up for the home stretch of the draft calendar. You can bet he'll be asked plenty about this subtle shift in form knowing what's at stake and how much capital one team may invest in him.
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