Why It’s Great That Jeremy Sochan is Shooting One-Handed Free Throws Now

Jeremy Sochan unveiled a new free throw shooting motion during the game between the San Antonio Spurs and Houston Rockets on Monday night. Sochan took his left hand off the ball completely and shot his free throws one-handed using only his right hand. 

Coming into the contest against the Rockets, which the Spurs won 124-105, Sochan was shooting 45.8% from the free throw line and 17.4% from the three-point line. If the 19-year-old rookie wants to live up to his potential in the NBA, he will obviously need to shoot better. Sochan is already a high-quality defender, can credibly play point guard and makes high basketball IQ plays look routine — but, again, he has to shoot better to be anything more than a role player.

Why is it such great news that Sochan has decided to shoot free throws with only one hand? It’s because this shift in mechanics cuts to the chase of what’s actually wrong with his shot. As I discussed prior to the 2022 NBA Draft in a Jeremy Sochan scouting report, his shooting woes are primarily due to him shooting the ball with two hands:

  • The more I study his shooting motion, the more skeptical I become that Sochan will develop into an adequate shooter. Much like Killian Hayes (who I soured on prior to the 2020 draft due to his shooting mechanics), Sochan has a two-handed shot that results in his thumbs guiding the ball during his release. While that doesn’t automatically mean he won’t learn how to shoot (former Spurs sharpshooter Chuck Person was also a thumber), it’ll make his journey to becoming a league average shooter more arduous than most.

The only way to change Sochan’s two-handed shot is to get him to take his guide hand (his left hand) off the ball sooner. And the only sure-fire way to do that is for him to practice shooting with only one hand. That Sochan is willing to shoot one-handed free throws in games shows that the rookie is listening to his coaches and is willing to go the extra mile to learn how to properly shoot a basketball.

A lot of NBA players struggle with their form but rarely do you see a young player take such a drastic (and public) step to address the matter. Kudos to Sochan for the courage.

Looking back on that scouting report I wrote about Sochan before the draft, most of it holds true. 

As expected, he was a Day 1 starter who didn’t need the G League:

  • If the Spurs pick Sochan with the ninth overall selection, I think he starts right away and slides Keldon Johnson to small forward. I wouldn’t expect him to spend any time in the G League because his game is too advanced for that level.

He has an intriguing set of skills on offense:

  • Offensively, Sochan also offers a host of tantalizing traits. For a teenage big man, he’s a really good ball-handler and passer. He can bring the ball up the court in traffic without issue and he makes smart passing reads from the perimeter. While power forward is his most natural position, his all-around skills should make his team’s offense run more smoothly.

Sochan’s defense, though, is his bread and butter:

  • Sochan’s value revolves around his defense. He’s extremely light on his feet, he has fast reaction speed, he’s deceptively strong and he processes the game quickly. As a result of those attributes, he can basically defend everyone on the basketball court. He might struggle with the burliest of centers or the quickest of point guards — but it’s not hyperbolic to state that he can swiftly switch and adequately guard all five positions.

Nearing the midway point of his rookie season, the equation with Sochan remains the same. If the kid can learn to shoot, he’s going to be special. Sochan can’t shoot yet — but he’s putting in the work. One hand at a time.