With the 9th pick in the 2022 NBA Draft, the San Antonio Spurs wisely chose high-energy power forward Jeremy Sochan. While Sochan might be seen as an unorthodox top-10 pick, he could make an immediate impact on a very young Spurs team.
Young teams tend to play harder because they're physically capable of doing so every game, and that could benefit the Spurs next season. After all, the Spurs have Keldon Johnson, who's known for his high effort level, and Sochan is best equipped to match Johnson's frenetic play.
Sochan made a name for himself playing at Baylor, where his defensive versatility was on full display, and that will come in handy next season with the Spurs. With Dejounte Murray, Derrick White, and Jakob Poeltl either gone or likely to be moved, the team will have lost their three best defenders from the start of last season.
However, with Sochan, the Spurs have a highly switchable player who, along with players like Johnson, Devin Vassell, and Tre Jones, could help keep the team competitive defensively. Sochan's potential defensive impact could be big next season, even as a rookie, but his shooting issues could mute his overall impact.
Keldon Johnson can especially benefit from Sochan's development
If that's the case, he won't be alone, and the team's offense could cause them to fall just short in quite a few games next season. Still, Johnson should immediately be drawn to Sochan’s game beyond playing next to someone who plays with a similar fire. For one, he's a good passer and should be able to get Johnson open looks, which will be harder now that he's the Spurs' de facto number one option.
After all, Johnson was second in scoring on the team last season, and opposing teams will zero in on him much more now that Murray is gone. Additionally, 19-year-old Joshua Primo will likely replace Murray as the team's starting point guard next season and could potentially struggle to create early on. Thus, Sochan would add another passer to the starting five and make Johnson's life easier.
Wwhile Sochan isn’t expected to put up big scoring numbers immediately, he could still find ways to be an offensive threat.
Johnson will need all of the scoring help he can get next season, and the two could form an interesting offensive pairing, particularly with Johnson handling the ball more next season.
Although Johnson hasn't done it much in the NBA, he's shown a lot of promise in that area -- especially late last season when he displayed more playmaking ability when attacking the basket off the dribble. Meanwhile, Sochan is an effective roll-man and cutter who could get plenty of easy baskets playing alongside Johnson and help him rack up assists.
Overall, Sochan should give a young Spurs team a shot in the arm with his energetic play. Considering Johnson already plays much the same way, the two should have no problem getting along. Better yet, Sochan's strengths will immediately prove valuable next season, especially to Johnson, who should be Sochan's biggest fan.