This season, San Antonio Spurs head coach Gregg Popovich has often instructed youngster Jeremy Sochan to defend the best player on the other team, giving him a lot of responsibility on the defensive end.
But on Wednesday night, when the Spurs play the New Orleans Pelicans at the AT&T Center, Sochan will likely face his physically most challenging test. He’ll probably meet up against Pelicans star forward Zion Williamson, who has become one of the league’s most influential players. And effective inside scorers.
But Sochan is up for the challenge because he hasn’t exhibited much fear this season.
Williamson is a fantastic player, according to Sochan. “I anticipate a lot to learn, but I’m up for the challenge.
Williamson’s ability to score from the interior is demonstrated by the fact that he led the Pelicans in scoring (22.3) despite playing in an offense with strong offensive players like CJ McCollum and Brandon Ingram. He also has the highest shooting percentage of any player averaging 20 points or more, ranking 16th in the league at 56 percent, which makes him a standout among players who average at least that many points.
Williamson put up 8 points, 9 rebounds, and 5 assists in 24 minutes as the Spurs defeated the Pelicans 111-97 in the preseason, giving Sochan a firsthand look at what Williamson is capable of.
“But he’s a big man, athletic. I’m going to have to stop that, but I’m excited,” Sochan said. “I remember watching him for a while, and then we faced them in the preseason.”
It’s uncommon for players to confess “excitement” before playing a player of Williamson’s caliber, but Sochan will have another opportunity to show why he was selected ninth overall in June.