Christian Koloko Gives Raptors Flexibility Throughout Matchups As Toronto Fills Want With 'excellent Player To Be Had'

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For all of the achievement the Toronto Raptors had with their unorthodox, so-called "Vision 6-foot-nine" roster of versatile wings ultimate season, there were times whilst it felt like Toronto have become a touch too fastball reliant, if you'll. As properly as the versatility become, it would not have hurt to have some flexibility and little something else to hold opposing groups off-balanced.

Adding some thing different wasn't the purpose for Toronto getting into Thursday's NBA Draft. As Raptors trendy supervisor Bobby Webster constantly says, take the pleasant player available and discern out the rest later. Fortunately for Toronto, the great player available whilst the Raptors' No. 33 pick rolled around just so happened to be Christian Koloko, a 7-foot-1 shot-blocking off behemoth out of Arizona.

Toronto has been keeping tabs on Koloko for some time now. It turned into Masai Ujiri who first observed the Cameroonian center, at first from Douala, Pascal Siakam's homeland, on the 2017 Basketball Without Borders occasion in South Africa.

Back then, Koloko was nevertheless tremendously new to basketball, a "lengthy skinny lanky child," as Webster recalled Thursday night time. 

"I suppose that’s why you observe the development. Now 5 years later you notice the progression," Webster added.

It's been a exquisite adventure for Koloko who became honestly unknown when he confirmed up in Arizona as a 3-superstar excessive school recruit out of Sierra Canyon. From there, the development was sluggish and steady before a breakout 2021-22 junior marketing campaign that saw him take domestic the Pac-12's Defensive Player of the Year award at the side of the conference's Most Improved Player honors.

"To me, it is just the difficult work, the commitment, the want and ability to grow," Webster said of Koloko who averaged 12.6 factors, 7.three rebounds, and a couple of.eight blocks per recreation.

For now, the 22-12 months-antique Koloko is greater of a developmental assignment than a player who's going to assist the Raptors subsequent season. He's a professional internal scorer who must offer Toronto with a miles-wished lob risk presence and his indoors protection became among the very first-rate in college basketball final season, however his contact around the rim, capturing, and perimeter defense are going to need quite a few work.

"His toes look good [sufficient] that he ought to be able to do a little switching," Raptors coach Nick Nurse stated following the selection Thursday night time. "You’re possibly now not gonna need him in steady switching but you wanna realize that if there’s an emergency or if there’s a positive time in the sport, that some thing takes place, he’ll be able to handle himself competently."

For now, it is OK. Koloko's 7-foot-5 wingspan and nine-foot-5 standing reach, both of which ranked second longest within the draft, will give Toronto an opportunity to get a bit more competitive on defense, Nurse stated. In the past, the Raptors' hype-aggressive scheme allowed groups to create buckets interior in the event that they were given past Toronto's first line of protection. With Koloko roaming the paint at some point, that have to trade. 

"I always like flexibility," Nurse said. "If the matters we’re doing we will’t do with our predominant men for something purpose, or sure matchup calls for some thing else, then maybe this can provide us the threat to try this. If he protects the rim as well as I suppose he does, I think that continually gives you a risk, if it’s possible, to be even greater competitive out on the wings, funnel things in and be even greater in lanes and more handsy and more turnover. ... Maybe you can have someone store a number of those mistakes on the purpose.”

That turned into something Fred VanVleet was hoping the the front office would deal with this summer season. It wasn't that Toronto's defense closing season had serious problems by any means, but a little some thing extraordinary in sure situations definitely would have helped.

"Basketball is this type of flexible sport that you’ve were given to have special options," he said during his season-finishing media availability. "Different matters call for specific matchups. Different series. Having alternatives never hurts.”

In Koloko, the Raptors hope to have found that. It may not make plenty of a distinction next season, but with time, Toronto thinks it has the sort of participant who can provide them the flexibility to do a little little bit of the entirety at the court docket.Further Reading

Raptors pick Christian Koloko with 33rd choose in NBA Draft

Bobby Webster shoots down OG Anunoby alternate rumors

Raptors taken into consideration favorites to land Rudy Gobert, Vegas says

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