San Antonio Spurs head coach Gregg Popovich has become notorious for having a "short leash" on young players. It's something we have seen from the early days of the great Tony Parker to Lonnie Walker.
Typically, if a new young player makes an error, it's never surprising to see the five-time champion head coach yank a player out of the game. Those days might be behind him though, as it seems like he's eager to let his top pick play right away and learn through any mistakes on the court.
According to Spurs writer Tom Orsborn, Pop said Spurs would give Jeremy Sochan a long leash in San Antonio. The purpose is "to make some mistakes and take time to feel comfortable on both ends," said Popovich. "It's a whole new world for him. But he's got all the tools to do very well there, so we just want to throw him in the frying pan and see how he does."
Expect Jeremy Sochan to get a lot of chances right away
In the Spurs' opening night, that's exactly what happened. Sochan opened with the San Antonio Spurs in the starting lineup and played just shy of 26 minutes. While he looked a little rough offensively, you could see where his defensive talent stood out. There is also a possibility that he might not play up to certain expectations right off the bat. It is possible that he will have a rough rookie year, but it's perfectly acceptable for a team whose average age is 22.
The good news is that this is the year for all of the youth to make plenty of mistakes and learn from them. The organization clearly sees that this is not the Spurs team of old and they have to let these new players work through their shortcomings. Back in the day, it was perfectly fine to pull out a young Tony Parker because no matter what you had Tim Duncan out there to win with any sort of lineup.
Those days are long gone with the longest-tenured Spur now being Jakob Poeltl. They understand this year isn't going to end with a title being brought back to the city of San Antonio. It's a year to grow, learn, and gradually improve over time.
It's encouraging to see San Antonio willing to make an adjustment as well to accommodate such a thing. Gregg Popovich looks rejuvenated in teaching such a young team the ways of playing in the NBA. It won't always be the most beautiful basketball, but letting players like Jeremy Sochan be thrown in the fire right away will help his confidence and quickly see where he can improve. He is very self-aware of his flaws and has a workhorse mentality to improve.
Unless the San Antonio Spurs have a big roster change-up, I would continue to expect to see Sochan be the starting power forward. He will have plenty of highs and lows but it's all a part of the process of the rebuild that San Antonio has started.