After a strong start to the San Antonio Spurs regular season that featured wins over the Rockets and Suns, this young squad has run into a rough patch, dropping their last five games against the Raptors, Pacers, Knicks, Timberwolves, and Heat. Victor Wembanyama has run into some rookie struggles -- particularly against a physical Knicks team -- and Devin Vassell has been dealing with a nagging groin injury, but what has perhaps stuck out the most over the past few games is Jeremy Sochan's learning curve as the team's de facto starting point guard.
The so-called "point Sochan experiment," which we've already gone into great detail about, has undoubtedly had its ups and downs lately. And despite some very obvious low points in the past few games, I'm in the camp that believes Sochan needs to receive more praise for his recent efforts. Playing out of position only in his second year in the league, let alone playing such a critical position as PG, is a very tall task for any 20-year-old.
Regardless, though, playing the starting point guard role may not be the best long-term path forward for Sochan, particularly if a better option comes along in the next few seasons. The Spurs are poised to have yet another lottery-bound season, and the organization finding their point guard of the future in the 2024 NBA Draft is a very realistic possibility. And in the latest mock draft from Bleacher Report, that is precisely what happens.
Spurs find a multifaceted modern point guard in Stephon Castle
In his recent mock draft, Jonathan Wasserman has San Antonio selecting UConn freshman combo guard Stephon Castle with the fourth overall pick. The 6-foot-6 product out of Covington, GA is the ninth-best recruit in the nation in the RSCI rankings, and he will be one of the featured options for a talented Huskies team looking to repeat as national champions.
The appeal of Castle as a prospect, at least for the time being, lies more in his upside rather than his actual production up to this point. At 6-foot-6 and 215 pounds, the 19-year-old will likely come into the NBA with game-ready size and strength. Combine that with his intentional pace as a ball handler, instincts as a passer, and upside as a scorer on all three levels, he has the makings of a modern, two-way NBA point guard with plenty of upside to warrant a top-ten pick.
At the moment, however, Castle won't be the safest of picks in the top half of the lottery. While he had a great outing in his first game as a Husky, posting 12 points, 5 rebounds, 2 assists, and 2 steals, the jury is still out on whether he's capable of taking on a role as a team's primary ball handler. On a UConn team with quite a bit of depth at both guard positions, a lot will be asked of him early and the pressure will be on for him to produce, making plays for both himself and others.
Thankfully, through UConn's international tour and first regular-season appearance against Northern Arizona, the results in that regard have been quite positive so far. If Castle continues making good decisions with the basketball on offense, makes his size and presence felt on the defensive end, and shows growth and consistency as a jump shooter, there's a high probability that he'll end the season as one of the upcoming draft's most coveted backcourt prospects and could be of serious interest to the Spurs.