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NBA Draft Scouting: Jeremy Sochan

Sochan’s defense and passing makes him at an excellent pick at 12

NCAA Basketball: NCAA Tournament Second Round-North Carolina vs Baylor Kevin Jairaj-USA TODAY Sports

Physicals:

Height - 6’9

Weight - 230 lbs

Wingspan - 7’0

Jeremy Sochan has been a late riser in most mock drafts; at the start of the year, he was widely expected to fall in late first round as a project player. His poor shooting impacted his stock greatly and made Sochan an interesting but flawed proposition. He has started to rise and I think his rise has mirrored the current meta of the NBA.

The four teams who made the Conference Finals were some of the best defensive teams in the league. Boston, Dallas, Miami and Golden State all ranked in the top-7 for Defensive Rating. All four teams boast a plethora of versatile forwards who can defend a few positions.

Boston currently have Jayson Tatum, Grant Williams, Jaylen Brown and Marcus Smart. Golden State have Otto Porter Jr, Andrew Wiggins and Andre Iguodala. Dallas have Dorian Finney-Smith, Reggie Bullock and Maxi Kleber. Miami have Jimmy Butler, PJ Tucker and Markieff Morris.

It is evident that teams now need these sort of ‘skeleton key’ forwards who can be plugged into different situations on defense without much hassle. Toronto prioritised that sort of player in last year's Draft with Scottie Barnes and it has paid dividends.

Barnes has greatly elevated the play of the Raptors and led the team back to the postseason. Jeremy Sochan is a player who fits into a similar sort of mould. Sochan is a multi-positional defender with an iffy jumper and plenty of unrealised potential.

Sochan is the son of two former basketball players who met at Panhandle State University in Oklahoma. His mother was a Polish point guard who eventually went on to coach in the UK. His father was a journeyman who played in the BBL for Bristol Flyers.

Jeremy grew up in the UK with his mother acting as his coach during his formative years. Sochan’s development as a player only started to take off when he moved to Southampton and played at an elite sports high school called Itchen College. Sochan quickly became one of the best young players in Britain and focused his attention on new challenges in the US.

He then played high school basketball in Indiana and pro ball in Germany before eventually joining Baylor University. Baylor has proved to be the perfect environment to see the range of skills that Sochan possesses.

Sochan’s greatest strength is his defense. Jeremy can legitimately guard everybody from point guards to centers. It is not an exaggeration, Sochan has the length and lateral quickness to stay with bigs and smalls.

Occasionally, he can be too upright in his stance but it is not a consistent weakness in his game. Sochan uses his feel for the game to compensate for any deficit in acceleration. The Baylor forward anticipates danger well and moves himself into position to slow the opposing team’s offense.

Sochan is capable of playing a few different roles on defense. Sochan is particularly strong at the point of attack. He navigates screens well and uses his length to keep his assignment in front of him. Jeremy is not deterred by having to run through multiple screens on one possession.

He is also comfortable playing as a weak-side disruptor on defense. There were a few times last season where Scott Drew had Sochan play off the ball on defense with strong results. Sochan’s stamina and quick hands meant that he was very disruptive roaming around the court accumulating deflections.

Sochan is arguably the best defensive player in this class and he would immeasurably improve the Thunder when it comes to rim protection and point of attack defense. Sochan would mean that Coach Daigneault could afford to put someone like Giddey or Shai on a lower-effort matchup on defense.

Sochan is also a skilled ball-handler in the half-court and in transition. Jeremy loves to pull down boards and dish the ball to teammates sprinting down the court but it is his craft as a creator which stands out to me.

Sochan is confident working off the bounce and uses hesitations to create space. He uses his feet and eyes to misguide the defense. The film highlights this strength best. Jeremy will shuffle his feet in one direction, draw the defense to the spot before shifting his feet back the other way. It is a simple move but it creates just enough space for Sochan to burst to the basket.

He has also shown a control of pace in his play. Sochan lulls defenders to sleep with a slow, cautious first step before using his acceleration to catch the defense off guard. He changes the tempo of the possession to create space so that he can attack the basket.

Sochan is not suited to being the lead creator on a possession but his passing vision and patience means that he is hugely effective in a motion offense. He was patient with the ball at Baylor and did not force passes unnecessarily. Sochan was particularly good at spotting acute angle passes when he drove to the rim.

In football, we often talk about players who can create thinking space when they are on the ball. Luka Modric is the prime example of a player who can ‘temporise’ the game. He slows the game down when it suits him but is always quick to attack when the opposition is out of position. Sochan plays in a similar sort of way. Jeremy capitalises off the opposing team’s errors.

The big weakness in Sochan’s game is his shooting. He was a poor shooter in college and his numbers from the stripe does not suggest he will improve drastically in pros. Sochan shot just 58.9% on free throws. A non-shooter will cramp the team’s spacing and reduce the room that the ball-handler has to operate in.

That being said, I do not think Sochan will be a complete non-shooter like Ben Simmons. He shot 36.4% from the right corner three in college and shot 40% on all above the break attempts. He is willing to take these shots and has shown a proficiency for knocking down outside jumpers in his preferred shooting zones.

As players go, I think Jeremy Sochan would be a steal at 12. He would contribute greatly to the Thunder’s defense and the team’s ball movement. His shooting is a concern but I am encouraged by Sochan’s lack of hesitation when it comes to these shots. It is clear that he wants to improve his game.