I should’ve known better.
This isn’t a Shaq-Christian Wood situation. I promise I was indeed familiar with your game at Baylor.
In fact, I was a big fan of your defensive game in college. The way you comfortably glided between smothering guards to pestering bigs. The unteachable instincts subconsciously pulling you toward the opponent’s critical action, coupled with timely, disruptive hands.
On offense, the flashes were certainly intriguing. As you well know, Coach Scott Drew doesn’t blindly trust any freshman to handle the ball, much less ask a 6’8 forward with raw-albeit-burgeoning skills to initiate offense at times. That level of trust is especially uncommon for a reigning national championship team with tourney-tested upperclassmen.
And with the ball in your hands, you thrived. You initiated sets confidently, found open teammates with heady passes, and even weaponized your frame effectively to generate looks for yourself in the paint or midrange.
This equation typically points to a stalwart-in-the-making. One we all should’ve seen coming. Alas, shooting percentages proved to be inescapable eyesores that kept creeping up in the periphery.
“Numbers aren’t the end all, be all,” I’d try to tell myself.
These numbers — specifically not reaching thresholds of 60 percent from the free throw line or 30 percent from three — appeared to be borderline disqualifying, in my opinion. Could the lack of production from these areas severely cap a prospect’s ceiling, leaving him better suited as a role player? Would it limit the canvas available for a young Sochan to paint masterpieces and undercut the prodigious passing ability?
So far, so good, Sochan. Not only did these shooting shortcomings fail to dim your star, they provided a platform to display your true self.
Spurs fans have seen their fair share of young players working through shooting kinks, but never have I witnessed one so unencumbered by outside noise and committed to improvement that they start shooting one-handed free throws in game. Doubly, I can’t recall a young player, much less a rookie, who implemented such drastic measures to alter mechanics midseason and found significant, quantifiable success.
Jeremy Sochan FT Form
2-Handed (1st 23 games)
1-Handed (last 33 games)
This brings me to my greatest oversight and the attribute I admire the most — your mindset.
You never shied away from a challenge at Baylor; you eagerly embraced tough defensive assignments and role shifts, all while navigating the distance between Waco and your support system across the pond. You seemingly took everything in stride with a jovial spirit belying your competitive streak.
I have little doubt your mentality is what will ultimately allow you to ascend past any ill-conceived, pre-draft expectations. It’s already taken you to All-Star Weekend once as a Rising Star. It’s what helped you persevere through the typical Year 1 up-and-downs, all the way to a Second Team All-Rookie team nod.
It’ll continue to serve as your buoy during inevitable growing pains that come with cementing one’s place in the league. Your self-assuredness can only help when naysayers jab at perceived holes in your game and unimaginatively clamor about a “role player” ceiling.
Please keep that same energy, always. Especially now, as the Spurs organization gets ready to compete sooner than later by introducing Victor Wembanyama to the mix and seeing continual growth in Devin Vassell, Keldon Johnson, and others.
Again, I should’ve known better. Szczerze przepraszam.
Now, I’ll just look forward to pulling up a chair at Chez Sochan and eating my pre-draft words for the rest of your lengthy career.