Toronto Raptors rookie Christian Koloko explains how he felt heading into his first game, adjusting to the NBA game and how analytics are different with the Raptors compared to college.
- So did you get any response on social media or from friends or family after scoring your first basket on an assist from Pascal?
CHRISTIAN KOKOLO: Oh yeah, definitely. I saw a lot of people post about it, the Cameroonian connection and all the stuff they-- and people from back home sent me videos, and they were just happy now that I-- proud. That was a good moment, proud moment, to become a warrior, and like my first basket in the NBA was assisted by Pascal, who was from the same city as me. So it was really nice, for sure.
- They always say there's a big difference from practice, to scrimmage, to now an exhibition game. What was your feeling-- how did you feel, your comfort level, I guess, just the other night?
CHRISTIAN KOKOLO: Oh, I felt good. I mean, I was kind of-- I really don't want to say scared, but at the beginning of my first actual NBA game, so when I checked in I was kind of a little bit anxious. But as soon as I stepped in, I was like, oh, it's just basketball. And I started to play my game. So it was good to have my first game under the belt. Now we've got a game tomorrow. We got another game on Friday. So I just got to be ready for the next couple of games.
- How have you found the adjustment to the speed and the overall caliber of play, which is the biggest [INAUDIBLE]?
CHRISTIAN KOKOLO: Oh it's definitely-- the game is definitely a little quicker, faster, you know. We used to play a little bit fast, but yeah, it's kind of faster, but I'll get used to it. In practice we run really-- we're always running. So we're always running. The coaches, they want me to be running rim to rim, so I've just got to get in better shape. And I think that's the only thing for me, just getting in better shape.
- As a rim protector, and a shot blocker, and a defender, is a bigger [? diamond ?] at that end, defensive end, bigger adjustment at the defensive end?
CHRISTIAN KOKOLO: Oh, I mean, I'm not going to say a bigger adjustment, but I'm just going to say people in the NBA are more athletic, they're faster, and they're stronger than people in college. So I'm just going to continue to do my job, protecting the rim. But it's not going to be as easy as it was in college, like I just said. They're stronger. They're better. Overall, they're better finishers. So for me, I'm just going to continue to do my job, and I'm just-- I'm going to get used to it. So I'm not worried about it.
- Are you encouraged, like, based on your experience in the summer training camp and the one exhibition game? Do you kind of feel like you can have an impact in the league maybe sooner than you would have hoped, or?
CHRISTIAN KOKOLO: Yeah, definitely. Definitely. I mean, I'm here to play. So I'm here to play. I'm here to do whatever the coaches want me to do. So I didn't put my name in the draft to come here and just sit on the bench. So I'm going to be ready whenever the coach wants me to help the team. And I'm just going to do whatever they want me to do to help the team. I just want to win, to be honest.
- How does the analytics department here compare to college and all the data you've received so far?
CHRISTIAN KOKOLO: Oh, I mean, it's crazy, the analytics, it's crazy. Like, I see the board over there, on the wall, it just shows us everything we do during practice, during a game, and like every deflection, every rebound I see. It's that we always got like a shot tracker. Every time you shoot it tells you like how off you were, your shot was, like it tells you it was 45 degrees. So we got everything. We got everything to get you better. I just-- before every practice or after practice I just look at it and to see if I made any adjustments from the day before.
- Do you find it helpful?
CHRISTIAN KOKOLO: Yeah, definitely. It helps you a lot. Like, it tells you your arc on your shot, everything, so it just helps you, for sure.