The 19-year-old rookie has been working on his game, improving his efficiency, and making the most of his growing opportunity.
SAN ANTONIO — San Antonio Spurs rookie Jeremy Sochan has put together quite a string of consecutive games on the offensive end of the court.
Amid the Spurs’ current six-game losing streak, the San Antonio rookie has seven-straight games of double-figure scoring including a career-high 30 points against the Suns in an overtime loss which made him the youngest player in franchise history to reach that feat.
“We lost so it doesn’t really matter,” Sochan said when asked about his scoring performance following the loss versus Phoenix.
However, as much as Sochan will downplay his career-scoring night, it is slowly becoming the norm to see Sochan among the top scorers on the box sheet.
And he is embracing his budding offensive role with each passing game.
“It just shows that the organization trusts me,” Sochan said. “I think it’s always been there.”
He is ranked seventh among NBA rookies this season in scoring currently at 10.1 points per game after 44 games, but the scoring numbers show incremental offensive growth with each passing month.
In October, he averaged 8.0 points per game. In December, he recorded 11.0 points per game and through 14 games played in January, he posted 12.4 points per game. His usage rate is rising as he explores more of his playmaking ability, and it seems he’s playing more of a point-guard role when Tre Jones heads to the bench.
“I think they’re giving me a little more freedom here,” said Sochan.
The 19-year-old is still polishing his offensive game. His three-point shooting needs work as he is currently shooting at 27 percent from deep through 44 games. Overall, he is shooting 46 percent from the field.
However, his efficiency has improved dramatically since he switched to shooting one-handed free throws.
Before that change, on December 19 he was shooting just 17% from three and 46% from the line. Since then, he’s up to 36% from three and 77% on free throws. He said that using one hand forces him to keep his elbow tight, and the muscle memory is clearly impacting the rest of his game.
“It’s a process,” he said. “I’m just trusting it trusting everyone around me who believes in it too and just working hard on it.”
Like any process, it will have ups and downs. He followed up his 30-point game with a 15-point start against the Wizards Monday night but scored just two points off 1-5 shooting in the second half.
But that won’t shake his confidence.
“I’m comfortable with my shot, and I’ll keep on shooting it,” he said. “I’m not trying to get too high or too low. I’ll try my best.”
Sochan has recorded 10-plus point outings 25 times this season as well as three 20-plus point games. He’s had 14 or more in his last seven, and he’s averaged 18 points, six rebounds, and three assists per game in that stretch.
He’s also the first Spurs rookie since Tim Duncan in 1997-98 to average at least 10.0 points per game.
Not bad for a player who was not considered the primary or even the secondary offensive option at Baylor where he averaged 9.2 points per game off the bench in 30 games played.
Of course, many factors are going to slow his offensive output with each game as the season moves forward.
The team may need him to focus on defense on a particular night, his inexperience at the pro level might show, or he may be tasked to run the point guard spot.
And that is what makes Sochan a special player.
He is willing to embrace any role to help the team win and learned fast that scoring is a premium in today’s NBA with high scores being recorded league-wide.
“It just depends on my role,” Sochan said. “There’s a bunch of good players. everyone is going to be able to score.”
Twitter: @KENS5, @JeffGSpursKENS5