What will Christian Koloko's role be next season with Raptors?

Imman Adan and Daniel Hackett discuss how the Toronto Raptors might use the No. 33 pick next season and look back at how management has deployed other rookies in the past. Full episode is available on the 'Raptors Over Everything' podcast feed or watch on our YouTube.

Video Transcript

DANIEL HACKETT: And part of it, I think, was just-- we want to just let our young players develop, play as many minutes as they can. And if we have to throw them into the fire, and they play out of position, let's see if they can handle it. Let's see what we can put together, if that makes sense. And even this past year, I mean, they got precious to chew out who they gave a few starts out the gate, because Pascal was injured. But as soon as everybody got healthy, he was back to the bench, and they were running five guys small. I don't really like the small lineup, it didn't do very well.

But they just wanted to see what guys could do right. And they weren't going to rush out, get some middling veteran center to plug a hole. They want to see if guys can swim, then toss them in. That doesn't mean that when given the opportunity, they won't pick somebody that fits with what they want to do. Koloko is an interesting pick, because we call him a drop big, and he is. He's played a lot of drop. And he's a rim protector, and he's just what you need in the draft system.

IMMAN ADAN: Right.

DANIEL HACKETT: But I think he is also potentially a little more than that. I think that, they think that he's got the foot speed to maybe play. Not switching everything, but a little bit of switching in the defense. I'm actually really interested to see how Nick Nurse decides to use him in his zone. Raptors play a lot of zone, but they never have a rim protector in there. What can the Raptors zone look like when you've got a guy at the rim, and you've got a bunch of guys who are six 9 on the perimeter switching everything? I don't know, but I'm interested to see what it looks like. So it would be neat if he got some minutes off the bench this year to really try some things out. They used a bench line up that was all-- to a whole long range of guys last year. You throw a 7 foot center with a 7' 5'' wingspan into that mix, and see what it could do.

IMMAN ADAN: Do you think then he's-- as an older rookie, do you think he's ready to compete right away? Can the Raptors just throw him into the fire, see if he can swim?

DANIEL HACKETT: It's very hard to say, until we see him. I mean, OG Anunoby's rookie year, when they drafted him, they were thinking, OK, well this guy-- he can probably play some minutes off the bench.

IMMAN ADAN: Yeah.

DANIEL HACKETT: And the shot will probably come along at some point, because he hadn't really shot it. And then they started in a small forward every game that year. I think after the first week or so--

IMMAN ADAN: You should have won defensive player of the year after that one game in Houston. I'm just saying, it's just-- one game is all it took for me.

DANIEL HACKETT: Very much so. And then it shoots 40% his rookie year.

IMMAN ADAN: Yeah.

DANIEL HACKETT: So you never really know what a guy's going to be able to do. And then a guy like Pascal Siakam. They started him, and it was really rough for the first half season. And then he ended up having to spend time in the G League before he really got off. And Koloko could be anywhere in that range, or maybe he's a backup center from day one. He shows up in training camp, and they're just running him out there for 10, 15 a game. They don't have to think about it.

But maybe he does need a little bit of seasoning. And maybe they even just want to send him down to the middle 5, let him stretch his game down there for stretches during the season. I mean, this is one of the reasons they signed Khem Birch a couple of years ago. People will look at his contract and say, Oh, he's making $7 million a year, he's not really that good. He's fine, but he's not really that good. And the thing is that, he can plug-in as a center, as a starter. He can plug-in as a bench player. He can basically just-- he can sit on the bench. If you've got two guys you want to play in front of him, he's not going to cause a fuss sitting on the bench.

And I think the reason that they signed him to that deal was, well, we're going to bring in Precious Achiuwa, and hey, maybe he can eventually start for us. But we don't want to push him into that, until we know he's ready. So Khem Birch can start, or we'll go small. And then the season went along, and frankly, by the end of last year, I was no big fan of Precious at the start. But he should definitely have been starting down the stretch. And in the playoffs, of course, we saw him start some games. And play a lot of minutes, which is the bigger thing.

IMMAN ADAN: I'm sorry. As you're talking, I'm in my head just going over, Precious is the mix of OG and Pascal. You were just talking about Pascal needing to go to the G League, needing to get more reps. 50% of Precious Achiuwa is that experiment. And I'm like, being able to start, favorite player ever, right away, 50% of Precious Achiuwa is that.

[LAUGHTER]

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