Raptors draft Christian Koloko: Instant grade and analysis

SAN DIEGO, CALIFORNIA - MARCH 20: Christian Koloko #35 of the Arizona Wildcats (Photo by Sean M. Haffey/Getty Images)
SAN DIEGO, CALIFORNIA - MARCH 20: Christian Koloko #35 of the Arizona Wildcats (Photo by Sean M. Haffey/Getty Images) /

The Toronto Raptors finally made their long-awaiting first selection the 2022 NBA Draft. With Masai Ujiri and Bobby Webster looking to stay strong on the defensive end by adding yet another robust player like Arizona’s Christian Koloko, getting someone who could protect the rim was at the top of the priority list.

Koloko was taken by the Raptors with the No. 33 overall pick in the 2022 NBA Draft. Considering that several scouting outlets and mock drafts had Koloko pegged as a potential late first-round pick, the Raptors should be praised for getting a very valuable player.

The Raptors were famous for their lack of tremendous height last year, as they didn’t have one player listed at 6-9 or greater that finished the year on the roster. At 7-1, Koloko is immediately going to be the biggest guy on the team.

The Cameroonian big man was so highly-touted early in the process that some mock drafts had the Raptors snagging Koloko back when they still owned their first-round draft choice. Getting a first-round talent early in the second round shows how Ujiri is excellent at navigating the draft.

Toronto Raptors draft Christian Koloko No. 33 overall in 2022 NBA Draft

Koloko will come into the league as a tremendous shot-blocker, as he swatted away just under three shots per game in just 25.4 minutes. With 12.6 points and 7.3 rebounds per contest to his name for the Wildcats, it could be argued that he was as impactful, if not more so, than No. 18 pick Dalen Terry when he was on the floor.

With a 7-4 wingspan and a tremendous motor, Koloko could give the Raptors an edge and nastiness that they lacked at times near the time last year. Koloko came alive late in the year, confirming in Toronto’s mind that he was a player with using capital on.

Koloko is not an ideal prospect. He’s in this range for a reason. Koloko is a limited offensive player at the moment that offers nothing as a shooter and very little outside of the paint. Nick Nurse is always willing to work with bigs on their offense, so Koloko might be more refined when the season starts.

The Raptors can walk away from this draft knowing they picked up a player who could eventually be a long-term rotation member if everything goes as planned. If Koloko comes in and makes himself known as a quality scorer, he could instantly push Khem Birch for minutes.

Grade: A-

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