5. Malaki Branham Makes an All-Rookie Team
The aforementioned Jeremy Sochan is the real focus of this most recent rookie class for a couple of reasons. One, as I said earlier, he slides right into a power forward position bereft of talent and/or size. Two, he was the ninth overall pick while the other two Spurs’ new guys were taken in the twenties.
Three, in almost any video you see of the kid, you can tell his personality is infectious. A capable ball-handler and tremendous defender, Sochan’s one glaring weakness heading into his rookie year is scoring ability. He’s still only 19, so he’s got time to grow into his shot, but the loss of Chip Engelland hurts Sochan just as much as it does Tre Jones.
You know who can score though? The good guys’ second pick (20th overall) Malaki Branham. I posted this video in my Vassell article, but it’s too good not to use again. Branham immediately steps in as one of the Spurs’ best three-level scorers—as seen in the Nebraska game, he can put the ball in the hoop from pretty much wherever he wants.
Depending on how much time he spends with the Austin Spurs, I could see Malaki making a run at an All-Rookie team strictly based on his shot. We saw in Herb Jones last year that a rookie doesn’t need to be a scorer (though Jones grew into that role a bit through the season) to make one of the rookie teams, so Jeremy does have a shot.
However, the ability to make shots helps drum up media attention for young guys. Malaki will be a bucket-getter as soon as he’s given an opportunity.