FORMER Gilas Pilipinas coach Rajko Toroman expects Kai Sotto to be drafted in the second round of the NBA Rookie Draft, but believes he will be picked in the first round if he waits another year or two and hones his skills in Australia or Europe.
Toroman said Sotto is starting to improve on his game because of the minutes he gained late in his stint with the Adelaide 36ers in the NBL in Australia, enough for the wunderkind to earn a chance in the NBA.
“If he goes in the draft, he will be picked because of his size and his skills in the second round, which is great,” said Toroman during his appearance in the SPIN POV (Point of View) podcast on YouTube and Facebook on Tuesday.
WATCH IN FULL:
“But if he stays one more year, maybe there is a chance for somebody to pick him in the first round. That’s up to him and his agent," he added. “But the development of Kai Sotto is good. And I expect that he can join the NBA in one or two years for sure."
Sotto averaged 7.6 points, 4.5 rebounds, and 0.7 blocks in 23 games with the 36ers at 15.2 minutes per outing. He declared for the 2022 NBA draft at the end of the season, looking to become the first Filipino homegrown player to suit up in the world’s premier league.
Toroman said the competitive minutes that he gained with the 36ers have helped in the Filipino teenager's development immensely, unlike in his previous stints including the G League Ignite team where they eventually parted ways.
“The minutes are crucial. If he can extend his playing time, I think it will be better to stay one more year and prove himself and after that, think about G League and the NBA. That’s step-by-step… He needs to mature and [get] experience. He needs to work on his body especially in his upper body and I think one more year, he will be ready,” said Toroman.
'One step closer to the NBA'
Toroman, who is also the national team coach of Indonesia, said he had a chance to monitor the games of Sotto in Australia and he is happy that he is the making the most out of his minutes.
“What I saw the last few weeks was Kai playing good… Before Kai Sotto went to Australia, I said that it’s a good move if he can get minutes. It looks like he is getting a lot of minutes. He is one step closer to the NBA.
"Now, it’s up to them and his advisors on what to do. Stay one more year, get more experience and go the draft, or go now,” said Toroman.