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Christian Koloko adds needed rim protection to Raptors

With their only pick in the 2022 NBA Draft, the Toronto Raptors took University of Arizona junior center Christian Koloko, 33rd overall.

An adept rim protector and blocking shots with quick feet that should get him rocking all over the floor, he seems like the defensive center Toronto needed in their secondary and tertiary lineups.

Here is a bit more about Koloko:

Age: 22
School: Arizona
Position: Center
Height: Seven foot one | Lester: 230 pounds
Statistics 2021-22: DPI: 12.6 | Role play: 7.3 | APG: 1.4 | GPB: 2.8 | FG%: 63.5

A do-it-all defender

The first thing that should make you stand out about Koloko is its dimensions. He’s seven-foot with a seven-foot-four wingspan and was among the best rim protectors in college basketball last season, averaging 2.8 blocks per game en route to winning Pac Defensive Player of the Year. -12.

The Raptors’ need for rim protection from the five has been talked about to nausea in nearly every corner of the team’s fandom, and Koloko should handle it comfortably.

He has the length, the natural timing, and the kind of quick jump ability that should allow him to be both a strong and weak shot blocker.

Even more exciting than his ability to deflect shots is Koloko’s fleet footing. He has the kind of foot speed and lateral quickness that projects him for easy switching, which means he should be a valuable and malleable piece for head coach Nick Nurse to use defensively.

The nurse and her staff love to play so many switch and zone patterns, and between Koloko’s quick feet which should allow him to play the pick-and-roll in man-to-man coverage without too much trouble and his ability to anchor a defense and play goalkeeper around the edge in an area, he should be able to fit in perfectly on the defensive side of the ball.

An immediate contributor

One of the knocks against Koloko is that he is already 22 years old, which suggests that there may not be as much development avenue to take from him. However, he came to basketball later in life, so there might still be some development time.

Either way, though, Koloko thinks he’s someone who can step up and contribute immediately to the Raptors because, on the one hand, he fills a clear need for the team at the back center, and also because he’s not someone the Raptors don’t have. any familiarity with.

Shortly after Toronto made their selection, Nurse spoke about Koloko’s selection and mentioned the fact that the Raptors had their eye on the youngster for some time now, giving him the familiarity and comfort to start already. to make a call on his role towards the next season.

The Raptors have had their eye on Koloko since they first scouted him at a Basketball Without Borders Camp in 2017.

“I saw him quite a bit. I saw him play quite a bit,” Nurse said. “It’s always hard to say. I hope. I think there’s probably a chance for him to make his way over there and get some time.

Has some interesting coincidences with Siakam

As a cool coincidence, Koloko also happens to be from the same hometown of Pascal Siakam: Douala, Cameroon.

Koloko doesn’t have quite the same kind of history as Siakam as he was a more highly touted high school freshman and ended up heading to a power conference school in Arizona, but there might be a common history between both in how their attacking plays might develop.

For now, Koloko plans to be a rim-running lob threat coming off the pick-and-roll without much luck looking to get out towards the three-point line. In three seasons and 91 college games, he was 0-for-5 from range.

It was a similar story with Siakam, who was 3 for 17 in 68 college games over two seasons at New Mexico State, where he was primarily used as a traditional big man and not the All-NBA wing at the multiple facets that he has flourished. in since.

That’s not to say Koloko will become a player with the kind of high-level all-round skills that Siakam brags about, but considering he shot 73.5% from the free-throw line last season, there’s certainly has more to gain from his shot than five meager three-point attempts in college.

“It’s when guys are really low free-throw shooters that you’re worried you’ll have to take time, but I imagine we’ll try to push him there and I bet you he wins more than zero in his career here,” Nurse said when asked about her concerns about her shot.