All eyes have been on Victor Wembanyama since the San Antonio Spurs selected the generational prospect with the first overall pick in the 2023 NBA Draft. While the Parisian phenom has dominated national headlines, his new teammates are no slouches. The front office has loaded up on a handful of talented youngsters in recent years, and two of them have caught the attention of the observant analysts working for ESPN.
The worldwide leader in sports released their list of sophomores to watch in the NBA this season, and their panel of writers showed Malaki Branham and Jeremy Sochan some well-deserved recognition. The former supplied impactful minutes off the bench when injuries left the Spurs shorthanded, and the latter carved out a crucial role in the rotation as a full-time starter and was among the most productive rookies in the league.
Sochan was one of the names mentioned as a breakout candidate, and he should have a golden opportunity to make that prediction come true when he shares the frontcourt with Wembanyama. Nevertheless, the 20-year-old forward must soon outduel Keldon Johnson and Reggie Bullock at training camp and during the preseason if he hopes to retain his coveted spot in the starting lineup. May the best man win.
As for Branham, he landed in a collection of under-the-radar players who experts believe will be instrumental contributors to their club this season. The second-year swingman struggled to score efficiently at times across his first go-round in the league, but an excellent Summer League showing has him poised to take the next step in his career. His off-ball movement and three-level shotmaking should continue to flourish.
Though Blake Wesley and Dominick Barlow were nowhere to be found in this recent article, they have each displayed a mesmerizing combination of smooth athleticism and two-way skills that have Spurs fans drooling over their long-term upside. The 2022 Draft Class is already shaping up to be a massive success for the Silver and Black, and the rest of their young core gives them one of the brightest futures in the association.