Will Christian Koloko have a role on Raptors next season?

Amit Mann and Katie Heindl discuss what the 33rd pick in the 2022 NBA Draft has shown in Summer League and offseason scrimmages along with whether or not he can carve out a spot in the rotation. Listen to the full podcast looking at exciting storylines heading into the 2022-23 season on the 'Raptors Over Everything' podcast feed or watch on our YouTube channel.

Video Transcript

AMIT MANN: A decent summer league in the sense that he showed that everything he did in college was real.


AMIT MANN: You know, he was-- he had a-- shot blocking was awesome. He showed he could guard on the perimeter a little bit. Jump shot, offense, was a little bit hit and miss, but he showed why, in fact, he was-- like the Raptors were-- were so keen on bringing him in.




AMIT MANN: Obviously, he's a second round pick for a reason. If he was the player that, you know, was able to be, you know, offensive hub, who had more of an offensive game, he probably would have been like the top 15 or something like that. So he is a bit of a project. But from everything that we've seen during Summer League, off-season, all the Rico Hines runs, he seems very committed to just, like, getting better, right?


AMIT MANN: He really fits the Raptors ethos in that way.

KATIE HEINDL: Yeah. No, I-- I agree. I thought he looked really good at Summer League. I thought the coaching staff spoke very highly of him. It sounded like he was really fitting into that, at least that Summer League group.


KATIE HEINDL: You know, and the chemistry that they pretty quickly formed all together, which is, like, a good sign to me, especially because that chemistry is always just a little bit of a mirror of the Raptors' chemistry as a whole.


KATIE HEINDL: It does surprise me that they-- not given the circumstance, I understand, of like the kind of lingering, looming Kevin Durant possibility, but it does surprise me that they waited this long to sign him, unless they gave him some kind of assurance and were like, don't worry. It's going to happen. That just seems like not--

AMIT MANN: Yeah, I think they must have.

KATIE HEINDL: Maybe. I hope so. I hope so, because that's a long time to wait, you know?


KATIE HEINDL: But I think he looks good. I think he fits really well. I think there's like flashes of like a Serge Ibaka, like, 2.0 kind of in-- in there. Not necessarily with like pure size, but just where he kind of puts himself, you know?


KATIE HEINDL: I think his shooting, in Vegas, it looked really good. Like--


KATIE HEINDL: He was-- he was-- didn't always make them, but he was taking some pretty-- like he got some good looks. He was kind of doing a lot of shot creation, I think, on that team. He's someone who I'm kind of like, I don't know how it will shake out with the bench--


KATIE HEINDL: --you know, and where he'll sort of fit, and whether he'll be actually more with 905.


KATIE HEINDL: Whether they're going to-- you know, whether they're going to have him-- I'd like to see him on the floor with the Raptors.

AMIT MANN: I-- I think there's a real possibility that happens. I got a-- I got a feeling, yeah.

KATIE HEINDL: I'd like to see him alongside Precious Achiuwa, you know, definitely Pascal Siakam.

AMIT MANN: Mhm. I'm-- I'm paying attention to these Rico Runs quite a bit, because I got nothing else to do. And I think it's interesting that he has consistently played with the Raptors' starters.


AMIT MANN: And any time Fred VanVleet is on the court, Christian Koloko is on the court. And they have formed a pretty-- pretty interesting chemistry in their pick and roll game. Obviously, Fresno really had-- never really had someone like Christian, who is just absolutely massive, how easily he can dunk the ball with his leaping ability, his length.

I think with Fred's decision making abilities, his pick and roll partnering, that kind of stuff, it just hasn't really been there in previous years with previous players. Precious Achiuwa comes to mind. I'm just-- simply because it hasn't really worked out that way.


AMIT MANN: But there's no way it can't work out with Christian Koloko. You know, and then you have Fred's shooting ability, his pull up game, his passing. There-- I think there might be something there. And I think the Raptors are seeing that, too. I'm not sure what's going to be happening with Kevin Birch, but there is an avenue, I think, for Christian Koloko to go into this role as a roller, offensive rebounder.

It comes down to how-- how well he can perform on the defensive end. I think that's where it's at, right now. And that is still in question. We saw it in summer league, saw it a-- a little bit, I guess, in Rico Runs. Actually, I'm not going to say that.

We saw it in Summer League that he has the ability. Can he do it at the NBA level? That is the question that we're not really sure about. But I would be curious, yeah, what things look like on opening night. If he has himself a really good camp, and he develops, and he learns-- because he's already shown that he is willing to just accept a role as doing these couple of things on the offensive end and just doing really well, right?

He's shown he's willing to do that. And just being a role threat, that alone is going to create so much attention because he's so huge, and he can catch lobs, and he can finish around the basket a little bit. If he can just, like, clean up, you know, possessions here and there with offensive rebounding, which is still going to be a huge part, I think, of the Raptors' halfcourt offense is crashing the glass, there's something there.

And he can still play his games in the 905. I'm not saying he's not going to, but maybe he's just going to be up and down, just like Delano Banton was quite a bit.

KATIE HEINDL: Mhm. Mhm. I mean, the experience is like-- you can't really knock it, right, to be able-- like to be on a two way in that. And like-- as you mentioned, like he is someone who does seem like he is willing to accept his role, and a big part of like those two ideals, and the willingness to like shuttle yourself, like, from Saga downtown.

Like that's a lot-- that's a lot of legwork, right? But you're willing to do that to get--

AMIT MANN: Living it Koloko. Living it Koloko.

KATIE HEINDL: --to get more minutes, really, and to maximize your time on the floor.

AMIT MANN: Yeah. Yeah. In working with Rico Hines, like the Raptors' development staff, he's going to be doing that whether he's with the 905 or with the Toronto Raptors.


AMIT MANN: That's going to be happening. He's going to be attending practices. He's going to be getting his extra work in. I just think there is a-- there is a path to him being a contributor at the NBA level. It just depends on if he's able to be a defensive anchor.

KATIE HEINDL: Yeah, I agree.

AMIT MANN: Because we already know he's a mobile big. He can do that stuff. We'll see. We'll see, but certainly a very intriguing off season for him.