The Toronto Raptors made one of the best second-round picks in the 2022 NBA Draft, as they addressed their lack of rim protection by drafting Arizona center Christian Koloko at No. 33 overall. Considering some of the predraft hype that Koloko picked up, the value in this pick is exceptional.
The Raptors didn’t have a single player over 6-9 on the roster by the end of the season. Luckily, Koloko came in at 7-1 with a 7-5 wingspan. Fans that have been clamoring for someone with some size on the roster could have their thirsts forcefully quenched by the Koloko pick.
Nick Nurse and Masai Ujiri clearly wanted to get bigger this season, and they accomplished that goal by adding the Pac-12 Defensive Player of the Year to the squad. Nurse outlined what he is looking for out of Koloko and the traits that made him such a coveted prospect.
Nurse liked the fact that Koloko was proficient on defense, could hold his own in pick-and-roll situations, and was able to switch on the perimeter despite his hulking frame at the Pac-12 level. If all of those traits come together and start to gel, Koloko will become a Toronto fixture in no time.
Nick Nurse and the Toronto Raptors loved Christian Koloko.
Koloko only managed to get on the floor for 25.4 minutes per game, but that didn’t stop him from averaging 12.6 points, 7.3 rebounds, and 2.8 blocks per game. Per 36 minutes, Koloko averaged a double-double with just under four blocks per game. That should translate well to the pros.
On offense, Koloko has been pegged as a “more modern lob threat” rather than a masterful post-up artist. Considering how Toronto operated with Khem Birch on the floor at center last year, Koloko could potentially be an upgraded version in a year’s time.
Having someone like that in the rotation would make Toronto more potent on both ends.
Koloko has only hit a handful of jumpers in his college career, showing that he needs to work on some things offensively. Koloko should feel very lucky that he went to the Raptors, as Nurse has a history of taking deficient players on offense and helping them become solid performers.
Koloko hitting his stride is going to take some time, but Raptors fans and executives are justified in their excitement around the Cameroonian shot-blocker. Considering the record that Toronto has with taking second-round picks and eventually molding them into stars, fans should watch Koloko’s progression with great interest.