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

The Toronto Raptors selected Christian Koloko from the University of Arizona 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 named 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 honors this season.

“If he protects the rim as well as I think he does, that gives you a chance to be even more aggressive 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 Blake Murphy of Sportsnet The Fan 590who calls Koloko an “extremely Raptors-y” choice:

• “An older prospect who hasn’t played basketball that long and still has a conceivable development track. Same hometown as Pascal, which could help the adaptation phase. Could probably help now in the C minutes of backup, but it’s more about what he COULD become defensively.” Murphy writes.

• Defensive Ratio: Unreal length, good defensive timing around the rim, dramatic year-over-year improvement, wide-ranging motor and the Raptors will adopt his wild closeouts/scrambling to correct mistakes as they strive to smooth them out.

• Offensive Ratio: Effective in a moderate use role, shooting range up to 17ft and can extend up to three points in time, should be a good rim race option and finishes very well on Dunker/dump-offs, will require some patience with turnovers and limited handful/counters

• “Could see a scenario where Koloko goes up and down raps at 905 depending on injuries/rotations. They’ll want him to get enough reps there to expand the offensive package and confidence, but his defense could help in the short term , 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 originally belonged to the Detroit Pistons.

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

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