Shot specialist: "Sochan's ceiling with a jumper is a version of KD"

Jeremy Sochan
Jeremy Sochan / Ron Jenkins/GettyImages

If you've been reading Air Alamo for a while, you know we were all huge fans of the pick the San Antonio Spurs made at number nine last June.

Our draft expert, Roberto Araiza, predicted the Spurs to land Jeremy Sochan in his final mock draft, calling the pick "a bit too perfect" to actually come true. A month prior to the NBA Draft, he'd labeled the Baylor star "everything the Spurs need in a draft pick."

It's true that there's a whole lot to love about Sochan, particularly the versatility he brings to the court on the defensive end. Still, as with just about any college prospect, there are some concerns that come with Sochan. The biggest drawback to the 19-year-old's game is certainly is shooting touch -- or lack thereof.

At Baylor, he shot just 29.6% from beyond the arc. Many times, a decent free throw shooting mark can indicate that maybe a player was just in a slump during a given season. Sochan's 58.9% clip from there does little to ease my mind.

Speaking to a shot expert about Spurs' forward Jeremy Sochan

It's clear that Sochan will need to work on his jumper if he wants to be a two-way player in San Antonio, and with Chip Engelland now gone, this will be a tougher ask than originally expected. A few weeks ago, a longtime shooting mechanics specialist took his own shot with the Spurs after the news came out.

I've spoken with Roger Galo, inventor of the Galo Method of shot-making, in the past about Keldon Johnson's jump shot for Air Alamo. This time around, I wanted to get his analysis on Sochan, who seems to have quite a few hitches in his jumper. Here's what he had to say in the interview.

Can you tell me a little about your background as an offensive efficiency specialist, particularly your experience with helping in the shooting department? Are there a couple of experiences working with particular players that stand out to you?

"I embarked on an unintended decade-long journey that began with trying to make sense of why shooting in general had either declined or stagnated over a long period of time. During this journey, I discovered that some of the extreme athleticism that the modern day player possessed, if not managed, could disrupt or de-stabilize their accuracy and consistency when it comes to shooting jump shots from short, mid, and long-range.

I learned this by studying video with a more discerning understanding of movements based on my discussions with professors that explained principles of sciences at work within the process of shooting a basketball into a basket. Another revelation made in the process of meeting and training players was how most players, even those considered good shooters, may not be as familiar with exactly how they shoot as I and others had assumed.

I think this is very closely connected to the long standing traditional belief that you must put up an inordinate amount of reps to become a great shooter, which is still the single most emphasized instruction by most shooting coaches.

I’ve learned or witnessed great shooters do things that are outright counter-productive or even go against basic tenets of the conventional fundamentals. For example, Ray Allen, “thumbed the ball” - he had terrible ball spin. When I met with Kyle Korver, I showed him a picture of where his guide hand was on the ball, and he wasn’t exactly certain where it was.

These guys were in the NBA for one reason, to knock down shots… they put hundreds of thousands of shots up, it was how they earned their living and they weren’t even aware of some of the issues that stripped them of x percent in shooting percentages."

When you look at Jeremy Sochan's shot, what sort of things stick out to you as to why he shot below 30% from three and 59% from the FT line at Baylor?

"Jeremy Sochan’s shot is riddled with a number of erratic movements that intermittently interfere with his consistency from the foul line, off the dribble jump shots, and 3 pointers. He’s prone to demonstrating movements that suddenly accompany some part of his core form, which usually doesn’t end well. For example, he’ll place too much emphasis on his wrist or hand during some of his shot attempts from the foul line and 3 pointers.

This oftentimes can flatten his arc or cause front or back rim distancing issue. Sometimes, his upper body is out of sync with his lower body movements, which can really cause some ugly misses. This can also pose challenges in the way of timing on his shots. For example, he’ll completely undershoot a long ball or over shoot a long ball.

Regarding his foul shot challenges, he’s too deliberate, too mechanical, or too uncomfortable with his movements. Lack of confidence can create this kind of effect. His movements don’t appear to be fluid at all -- they seem more clunky, frenetic, etc. Disjointedness allows interference to creep in, and even timing issues can arise here as well. There is an inconsistent change of speed as he is rising up to shoot even from the foul line, and his wrist action appears not in sync with some of the other mechanics.

No one’s movements are independent -- they become part of a sequence of motions, which is why his foul shot can be affected negatively. There are occasions when he’s falling off his foul shot attempts and leaning backward, which usually end in a miss. Additionally, many of these flaws can be seen in his jump shot attempts from the mid-range and the 3 point line.

He seems to be most stable on the catch and shoot, especially from 3-point range. However, even in that area, he occasionally demonstrates some of these inherent, detrimental movements which can yield some pretty bad misses there, too."

What are a couple of things you would do to improve Sochan's overall shot?

"He tends to move the ball around into different planes prior to his final release plane. I’d certainly eliminate or at least reduce it to a more manageable level. His alignment is an issue that contributes to his inconsistency, as it detracts from him knocking down jumpers at any distance.

I would have Jeremy streamline his movements to increase his consistency, which would, within the Galo Shot-Making methodology, transfer to anywhere on the court and the foul line simultaneously.

This methodology reduces the learning curve tremendously while bolstering someone’s confidence that it works reliably from so many areas. While implementing fluidity into his shot, he would become a faster shooter, more capable of taking less challenging, potentially contested, or altered shot attempts that he currently struggles with despite his high release point.

The other issues I’d address would be his hand position on the ball that would predispose him to shooting more accurately and faster. His footwork needs to be improved so that he’s not as dis-connected with the basket and out of sync with his upper body, as I alluded to."

Where do you see Sochan's ceiling if he's able to bring his shooting up to the rest of his game? Do you see a comparison to a past or present NBA player?

"As far as Jeremy’s ceiling, at his height and ability to create shots especially from beyond the three and the outer limits of the mid range, he could potentially become somewhat of a version of Kevin Durant, with an even higher shooting percentage from the 3 point range and mid-range, while being nearly as unstoppable from out there, due to his height, length & high release.

I know that’s quite a statement, but my philosophy is heavily weighted in the direction that the 3-pointer and the deep two are very easy, high quality shot attempts, especially for someone his size."

Galo's assessment is certainly bold, and the Spurs would be ecstatic if Sochan even turned out to be half of the player Durant has turned out to be. His greater point that Sochan's height and wingspan should be a huge advantage is definitely true though.

NEXT: Predicting the Spurs' 2022-23 season month-by-month

Considering his defensive promise, Jeremy Sochan with an effective jumper could just turn out to be the next big thing in San Antonio -- he'll just need to put in that work to get there.