With the ninth pick in the 2022 NBA Draft and their highest pick since landing Tim Duncan, the San Antonio Spurs selected Baylor power forward and sixth man, Jeremy Sochan. Despite not starting games on the Bears’ squad, Sochan is expected to be a day-one starter on the Spurs, much to the delight of fans.
With expectations set high, Sochan has shown he can be an instant impact player on both sides of the ball. While he was never one to fill up the stat sheet, he is the reason Baylor won 27 games last year and was granted a number one seed in the NCAA Tournament.
While I think Sochan might deserve serious Rookie of the Year consideration in 2022-23, I don’t think the people holding votes will agree. For starters, they seem to be box score watchers. Of the 73 recognized ROTY winners, only eight failed to average 15 points. Sochan didn’t hit that number in college, and I doubt he will in his rookie year. That gives him a 10% chance to bring home the award.
Sochan doesn’t stuff the stat sheet enough to win
Of course, it doesn’t help that he’s surrounded by minimal talent. Recent winners like Scottie Barnes, LaMelo Ball, Malcolm Brogden, and Ja Morant all played on teams that exceeded early expectations. These Spurs will not be doing that.
On top of that, with a few exceptions, the ROTY went on to be a franchise player or at least the second option on a very good team. Sochan won’t be that level of talent. He will be a top-tier role player and DPOTY candidate at his peak, but he won’t be “the guy.” That’s why the Spurs will be bad this season: to go and get that guy.
Watching Sochan play in the preseason, he looks awesome. He is a do-all player who can guard all five positions, knock down some shots, and find the open man. Looking at just the box score, that isn’t easily apparent. He is only averaging four points and four rebounds at the time of writing. He is also 16th in ROTY odds, at +5000.
Along with the hair, he will be a Dennis Rodman-type player. Or a Jrue Holiday. Not the best player on the team, or the flashiest, or a leader on the scoreboard, but a vital part of a really good team. The Spurs are rebuilding an entire franchise, and adding one player won’t save them. They’re building a team, and teams don’t win individual awards, only championships.