Jeremy Sochan could transform the Wizards' defense


The Washington Wizards have the 10th overall pick in the 2022 NBA Draft. Here is the latest in our series on draft prospects who could fall around where the Wizards will select...

2022 NBA Draft Wizards Prospect Profile: Jeremy Sochan

Team: Baylor

Position: PF/C

Age: 19

Height: 6-9

Weight: 230

Wingspan: 7-0

2021/22 stats: 30 G, 9.2 ppg, 6.4 rpg, 1.8 apg, 1.3 spg, 0.7 bpg, 47.4 FG% (3.3/7.0), 29.6 3PT% (0.8/2.7), 58.9 FT% (1.8/3.0)

Player comparison: Scottie Barnes, Draymond Green, Aaron Gordon

Projections: NBC Sports Washington 13th, Sports Illustrated 11th, Ringer 10th, Athletic 7th, ESPN 18th, NBADraft.net 17th, Bleacher Report 12th

5 things to know:

- Sochan is one of the best and most versatile defenders in his class. At 6-9 and 230 pounds, he can guard all five positions at a high level, especially when he's forced to switch out on the perimeter and contain guards off the dribble. In an age where Giannis Antetokounmpo, Kevin Durant, Luka Doncic and Jayson Tatum are four of the league's best individual players and the game is shifting more toward the perimeter, teams need players like Sochan to give their defense a chance at slowing these explosive offenses down.

- The jump shot is a major concern regarding Sochan's game. He has a slow release and shoots a flat ball. He shot sub-30% from three in his lone season at Baylor and his 58.9% mark from the free-throw line doesn't inspire a ton of confidence that his stroke will improve over time. Sochan does own a nice turnaround jumper he tends to use in half-court settings, but it's more than likely he'll need to overhaul his mechanics in the NBA to open up the rest of his game. Scottie Barnes had a similar shooting profile as a freshman at Florida State and showed improvement during his rookie season, so hope isn't lost for Sochan. 

- While his jump shot isn't there yet and he lacks shot creation skills on the perimeter, Sochan is still a viable offensive weapon thanks to his ability to attack the paint and make plays for his teammates. His long strides and tight handle for a player his size allow him to blow by bigger defenders and out-muscle smaller wings on his way to the rim. If Sochan can hold up as a small-ball center on defense, it'd open up his team's offense in a major way considering opposing bigs will have a tough time containing his dribble penetration. If the jumper starts falling, then you have an elite two-way talent on your hands.

- Sochan is the son of two former college basketball players. His mom, Aneta, was a Polish basketball star who went to Oklahoma University and eventually met his dad, Ryan. They both played for the Sooners' respective men's and women's basketball programs.  

- Sochan played for Poland's under-16 national team in 2019 and led his team to a championship in the FIBA U16 European Championship Division B. He won tournament MVP as well. Sochan also played for the Polish national team at the EuroBasket 2022 qualifiers, becoming the youngest player to ever play for Poland at that level.

Fit with Wizards:

You can't win in the NBA without a good defense, and the Wizards haven't had one in quite some time. Despite them bringing in a defensive-minded head coach in Wes Unseld Jr., the Wizards took a step back defensively from where they were during Scott Brooks' final season as head coach. They went from 16th in defensive rating (113.2) under Brooks to 25th (114.7) in 2021-22. 

Sochan is the kind of player that could change everything on the defensive end of the floor. There simply aren't a lot of players in the league who can guard all five spots at a high level, and Sochan projects as one of those guys. With a uber-versatile stopper on the floor, Unseld Jr. would have a much easier time drawing up an effective defense night-to-night. 

Need a staunch defender to throw on Tatum or Durant? Sochan's your man. What if Trae Young or LaMelo Ball are feasting on the Wizards' bigs in pick and roll? Simply move Sochan on the screener and have him switch on to the ball handler to contain the drive. He'll also crash the glass for you effectively and push the ball on the break to generate easy looks for your offense.

Sure, players like Kyle Kuzma, Deni Avdija, Rui Hachimura, Daniel Gafford and Kristaps Porzingis would technically be ahead of Sochan on the depth chart on Day 1, but his positional versatility would allow him to play with any combination of teammates on the floor and fill in where necessary. Depending on what kind of point guard the team acquires, imagine a Beal-Caldwell-Pope-Avdija-Kuzma-Sochan grouping. Beal would arguably be the weakest link defensively in that lineup, and if he's you're weakest link you're probably in good shape. 

There's rarely a one-answer solution to fixing a struggling defense. Sochan, however, provides a coaching staff with several different answers to the various challenges NBA offenses present. Then if he develops a consistent jumper, watch out. 

2022 NBA Draft profiles:

Jabari Smith Jr., Auburn

Chet Holmgren, Gonzaga

Jaden Ivey, Purdue

Paolo Banchero, Duke

Keegan Murray, Iowa

Shaedon Sharpe, Kentucky

Johnny Davis, Wisconsin

Jalen Duren, Memphis

Dyson Daniels, Ignite

Bennedict Mathurin, Arizona

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