The Toronto Raptors may have traded for Jakob Poeltl due to the fact that he was viewed as a perfect scheme fit for Nick Nurse, but he was given a four-year contract due to Darko Rajakovic and his plan for the former Top 10 pick and standout rim protector.
Poeltl is a terrific rebounder and shot-blocker who is finally being compensated as such, but the best part of acquiring the Austrian big for Masai Ujiri had to be the idea of unleashing his tremendous passing ability. Rajakovic is not going to shy away from featuring him prominently.
With Rajakovic’s emphasis on ball movement and his 0.5-second offense, which requires every player to make the extra pass, players like Poeltl will be in the spotlight. Rajakovic is bullish on what Poeltl can provide, giving him a strong comparison to current Sacramento Kings All-Star Domatas Sabonis.
“I think Jakob has the potential to do a lot of stuff that (Domantas) Sabonis is doing,” Rajakovic said. “And I think Jakob is doing it kind of in a different way. Obviously, he’s bringing more length there than Sabonis does…To a certain degree, there is a connection there.”
Toronto Raptors C Jakob Poeltl compared to Domantas Sabonis.
While Poeltl is never going to be the offensive juggernaut that Sabonis has become, nor will he be the triple-double machine that Sacramento’s stud has evolved into, his skill set is not too dissimilar. Poeltl’s 2.8 assists per game in the last two years belie his true talents in this area.
Poeltl struggled at times in his preseason debut against Sabonis and the Kings, but learning his third offensive system in the last 10 months likely won’t be an easy task for the former Spurs center. Rajakovic is not going to give up on his quest to turn Poeltl into a star.
Rajakovic may be a Mike Budenholzer disciple and someone who wants to go as fast as possible all of the time on the floor, but his ability to work with big men in Memphis was one of the hallmarks of their basketball philosophy. The team paid Poeltl like someone they expect to take a similar bump.
Poeltl may never score like an All-Star center, but Rajakovic has designated him as one of the most important players on this team. If he plays half as well as Sabonis did last year, Toronto will take a sizeable step forward in the standings.