With fewer than ten games left in the regular season, the San Antonio Spurs have nearly completed another year of their rebuild. While we won't know how successful this season has been until the NBA Draft Lottery in May, we have already seen positive returns from their five rookies, namely Jeremy Sochan. Sochan has made an impact by filling a team need at power forward, but he has been in and out of the lineup of late. Head coach Gregg Popovich recently shed light on the situation:
With Sochan's knee causing him to miss several games and bothering him when he plays, Popovich should shut him down for the rest of the regular season. The decision to sit Sochan for the team's remaining nine games would be a precautionary measure, and doing so could prevent a more severe injury from occurring. While resting a 19-year-old with just three weeks remaining in the season might seem unnecessary, the Spurs have little left to play for, and Sochan's already proven himself.
Why the Spurs should rest Sochan for the rest of the season.
There are a few advantages to leaving him on the sidelines. The most obvious benefit is it ensures the Spurs finish in the bottom three of the league standings, guaranteeing them an even shot with Houston and Detroit for the number one pick in the 2023 NBA Draft. Realistically, whether they sit Sochan or not, the Spurs will likely finish in that range.
Still, finishing with the worst or second-worst record, as opposed to the third-worst record, does have its benefits. While it doesn't guarantee the team a higher percentage chance at the number one pick, it would keep them from falling out of the top three. For now, the Spurs have a one-in-three chance of landing the sixth or seventh pick in the draft.
However, if they were to finish with a worse record than Houston or draw even with them and win the coin flip, there would only be a 20% chance the pick slips to sixth in the draft. Considering the Spurs technically have a significantly higher chance of picking sixth than they do of picking first overall, it's something that they are likely aware of and may try to avoid.
Another advantage of sitting Sochan is that it would ensure he has a full offseason to improve rather than needing to rehab any potentially serious injury. The Spurs already have a young prospect in Charles Bassey, who got injured late in the season and will have to spend his summer recovering.
The summer is particularly crucial for young players, who often spend it working out and further developing their games. That can result in massive year-over-year improvements. Take Devin Vassell, for instance; he has made drastic improvements each season, especially this year. Sochan could follow in his footsteps, assuming a nagging knee injury doesn't derail his offseason.
With nothing meaningful to compete for and the Spurs' track record of being cautious with injuries, Popovich could ultimately decide to rest Sochan for the remainder of the season.