Southwest Notes: Sochan, Kyrie, Lively, Chandler, Rockets

No Spurs frontcourt player has appeared in all 82 games in a season since DeJuan Blair did it in 2009/10, according to Tom Orsborn of The San Antonio Express-News (subscription required). Second-year forward Jeremy Sochan, who welcomed the NBA’s declaration that its data doesn’t support load management, is hoping to end that streak.

“I think it should be a culture of playing every game that you can, and if your body is not 100%, then I understand,” Sochan said, per Orsborn. “But if you are fit and healthy, I don’t see why not playing 82 games or as many games as you can play.”

Appearing in all 82 games in 2023/24 would represent a major step forward for Sochan, who was limited to 56 contests as rookie due in large part to quad and knee issues.

Here are a few more notes from around the Southwest:

  • While his Mavericks backcourt mate Luka Doncic placed fourth overall in ESPN’s annual rankings of the NBA’s top players, Kyrie Irving isn’t putting much stock in the decisions made by ESPN’s panel, which ranked him 34th. “Rankings don’t mean a damn thing in the league, especially not from ESPN or any of these other media platforms,” Irving wrote in an Instagram comment (hat tip to The Dallas Morning News). “Majority of the analysts are not credible sources in my eyes and I don’t respect them or their opinions.”
  • Former Mavericks big man Tyson Chandler is working with rookie Dereck Lively II, referring to the young center as a “little brother,” according to Brad Towsend of The Dallas Morning News. Lively is welcoming the mentorship of Chandler, who is back for a third year as a part-time assistant in Dallas. “At first I wasn’t really familiar with Tyson’s game, until I started to do my homework,” Lively said. “Then I realized, ‘Wow, we really do play the same.’ We have the same demeanor. He’s 40-something and he has the same energy as me. We kind of reflect off of one another, you know?”
  • While the Rockets are hoping that veteran additions like Fred VanVleet and Dillon Brooks help the team take a step forward this season, they’re also counting on reaping the benefits of “trading” the rookie versions of Jabari Smith Jr. and Tari Eason for more seasoned second-year versions of those players, says Jonathan Feigen of The Houston Chronicle (subscription required). “They had an opportunity last year to play through mistakes and I think they’re obviously going to take a natural step,” head coach Ime Udoka said of the duo. “They’ve shown that.”
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