Raptors select Arizona’s Christian Koloko with 33rd overall pick in NBA Draft

The Toronto Raptors have selected the University of Arizona’s Christian Koloko with the 33rd overall pick in the NBA Draft – their only pick of the 2022 event.

Koloko, a seven-foot-one center who shares the same hometown as Pascal Siakam in Cameroon, averaged 12.6 points, 7.3 rebounds and 2.8 blocks as a junior with the Wildcats this season and was voted the Pac-12 Defensive Player of the Year.

The 22-year-old was also named to the All-Pac-12 first team and won Most Improved Player this season.

“If he protects the rim as well as I think he does, it gives you a chance to be even more aggressive out on the wings and try to be even more turnover driven,” said Raptors head coach Nick Nurse after the team drafted him.

Some notes from Sportsnet The Fan 590’s Blake Murphywho calls Koloko an “extremely Raptors-y” pick:

• “Older prospect who hasn’t been playing basketball that long and has conceivable developmental runway still. Same hometown as Pascal, which could help adjustment phase. Could probably help now in backup C minutes but it’s more about what he COULD become defensively,” Murphy writes.

• Defensive report: Unreal length, good timing defensively around rim, improved dramatically year-over-year, big-time motor and the Raptors will embrace his wild closeouts/scrambling to correct mistakes as they work to iron them out.

• Offensive report: Efficient in moderate-usage role, shooting range up to 17 feet and could extend to three-point range in time, should be a good rim-run option and finishes really well on dunker/dump-offs, will require some patience with turnovers and limited handle/counters

• “Could see a scenario where Koloko is up and down Raps to 905 as injuries/rotations dictate. They’ll want him getting ample reps down there to expand the offensive package and confidence, but his defense could help in the near-term, to where he can fight for minutes, “Murphy also added.

The pick, which is the Raptors’ first selection of the 2022 draft, was acquired from the San Antonio Spurs but initially belonged to the Detroit Pistons.

Toronto traded its first-round pick (20th overall) along with Goran Dragic at the trade deadline for Thaddeus Young, Drew Eubanks and the eventual 33rd overall pick.

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