In part one of my “Spurs Rookie Report” series we discussed and graded the performances of Dominick Barlow and Malaki Branham so far. If you haven’t had the chance to read it yet you can check it out here. We’ll do the same in part two for Blake Wesley and Jeremy Sochan.
Sochan earned a spot on the starting roster from the beginning of the season and has only improved. Wesley missed a long stretch of the season with an MCL Sprain but has found his way back into the rotation after spending some time in the G-League to rehab. Both players are likely to be with the San Antonio Spurs throughout the rebuild and a part of the team that brings the Spurs back to playoff contention. Let’s take a closer look at their performances.
Spurs Rookie Report
Blake Wesley: C+
It may seem like it was ages ago, but the Spurs started the season hot in the first twelve games they were 5-2. It was an unexpected treat for Spurs fans, but then the Josh Primo scandal happened. Shortly before the Spurs took on the Chicago Bulls on October 28th Josh Primo was waived. The public was unaware of why at the time, but as tip-off drew closer reports of Primo’s Jerseys being pulled off the shelves, and Primo-centered social media posts started disappearing from the official team accounts. In the first substitution normally when Primo would take the court for the first time, Blake Wesley make his rookie debut. Wesley went to work right away and scored and the crowd went wild. With so many unanswered questions at the time, he saved the day, and fans were able to enjoy the game. Wesley scored 10 points in 15 minutes.
Catching Up To His Fellow Rookies
As great as his debut was Wesley, unfortunately, suffered a severe MCL sprain in the next game which sidelined him for 8 weeks. After corrective surgery and a stint in Austin, Wesley has returned to Popovich’s rotation. In part one we talked about how Branham has improved as the season progresses, but with Wesley, it seems stagnant. He’s still making the same mistakes as he was in his debut. Making a tough pass instead of a better option, taking a contested shot instead of passing to an open teammate.
Injury setbacks are a part of the game and there is no reason to believe that Wesley’s game won’t improve. However, we are here to give a grade based on what we’ve seen so far. For now, I respectfully give Wesley a C+. But I fully expect that by the end of the season, we’ll be impressed by his progress.
Jeremy Sochan: B+
Jeremy Sochan was selected as the 9th overall pick in the 2022 NBA draft. He is the highest draft pick the Spurs have had since, Tim Duncan. Brian Wright will likely have an earlier pick as the Spurs are poised to get the 6th pick or better with the current NBA standings. Nonetheless, as the highest draft pick in 25 years, Sochan has shown improvement throughout the season. From the beginning, Sochan has sought to guard the best players on the opposing team. Sochan has been one of the few defensive highlights of the season. While the rest of the team has vast room for improvement on the defensive side of the ball, Sochan has kept Steph Curry to 15 points. He’s held Lebron James to 20 points in one of their meetings. Hopefully, we’ll see more of these types of defensive performances as time goes on.
Offense Keeps Getting Better
At the start of the season, Sochan was a liability on the offensive side of the ball. Some fans went as far as to say the front office made a mistake drafting him. Initially, some fans drew comparisons between Sochan and Kawhi Leonard, but I think at this point in his career Sochan is a step ahead. Both players need/ed help to develop their shot, but Sochan was never hesitant to shoot the ball if he had a good look at the basket. We’ll never see Popovich pleading with Sochan to take his shots on the huddle. As the season has gone on Sochan’s offense has greatly improved. This is a rare case of a player improving their shot during the season instead of in the offseason. After changing to a one-handed free throw he’s improved from 46% to 75%. He’s also approaching 40% from the 3-point line.
Sochan has a lot of potential for growth with the Spurs. He’s already doing better than expected at this point and for that give Sochan a B+. On his current trajectory, next season is likely to be a breakout year for Sochan. It’ll be great to see how the offseason moves and draft affect his role on the team.
What Grade Would You Give?
Do you agree with my assessment? What grade would you give Wesley and Sochan? Make sure you follow Project Spurs on Twitter and Facebook to keep up with Spurs rookie report, game previews/recaps, draft analysts, G-League updates, and Spurs news. Subscribe to our YouTube Channel to watch all our Spurscast episodes where we discuss all Spurs-related topics regularly.