Jeremy Sochan's areas for improvement
If you're like me, you like to get the bad stuff out of the way first. And while I'm confident that Sochan will be a very good NBA player, he does not come without some concerns. Coming into the league, these are Sochan's main problem areas that will require further development at the next level.
The most glaring hole in Sochan's game is and always has been his shooting. In his MVP-winning campaign at the FIBA U16 European Championship, through eight games, he recorded 56/27/57 shooting splits. During his season in Germany, through 25 games, he had 42/25/53 shooting splits. This past season at Baylor, he ended the season on 59/30/59 shooting splits.
Even considering Sochan’s improvement from this past season compared to his lone season in Germany, his inefficiency from the free-throw line and from beyond the arc does not make me comfortable enough to project an improved jumper in the future. Even with Chip Engelland at his disposal on the Spurs, improving his jumper could prove to be incredibly challenging.
Even if the stats don’t look particularly promising, though, that isn’t necessarily the be-all, end-all when projecting a player’s jumper. While Sochan’s shooting has overall been very inconsistent from distance, his mechanics on his jump shot look good—the energy transfer on his shot looks good (to the point that he often overshoots), he has a high release point, and there isn’t any noticeable hitch.
I won’t expect it to look fantastic out of the gate, but it could be a different story two or three years from now.
Sochan is often labeled as a subpar athlete, and I won't be the first to say otherwise. However, I think that statement is a bit overblown and too all-encompassing. More specifically, I think it’s Sochan’s lack of explosiveness—both in his first step and in his vertical leaping ability—that could use improvement rather than his overall athleticism.
Despite having good lateral and forward/backward mobility for his size, he isn’t the twitchiest athlete with the ball in his hands compared to Paolo Banchero, for example, and he sometimes struggles to create space for himself on drives because he’s unable to create enough space with his first step from a standstill.
He also doesn’t have the leaping ability of a similar-sized player like Tari Eason despite being able to catch the occasional lob in the dunker’s spot. For these reasons, increasing lower body strength should be a developmental focus for him early in his NBA career.
For a player that’s 6’9” with long arms, I would say that Sochan’s ballhandling skills are actually quite good being that he’s only about to turn 19 years old, and I’ll add that I think he’s on the same tier if not already a good bit better than both Jabari Smith and Keegan Murray in this department.
Even so, the flashes of self-creation that Sochan has shown on offense make me think that better ballhandling would be a great complementary skill for him to focus on. He’s already shown quite a bit of promise as a ballhandler in transition, but if he can ever get to the point where he can be a consistent secondary pick-and-roll ballhandler, his offensive game could dramatically open up.