With the NBA announcing its development of a new G-League Team exclusively for high school players that want to skip the college process, there have been many eyes on one prospect that recently committed to the team – 7-foot-2 Filipino center Kai Sotto.
Sotto is the number 66 ranked high school player in all of America, and his size and shooting make him one of the most interesting prospects in recent years. But what makes him interesting, and is he all just hype? Read on to find out why you need to watch out for Kai Zachary Sotto.
The Philippines Might Have Its First NBA Player
There’s little denying that the biggest reason Kai Sotto is such a must-watch prospect is because he’s a homegrown Filipino. Filipinos are absolutely crazy about basketball, but as any Filipino will tell you, they’ve never had a homegrown Filipino basketball player.
Right now, the Philippines has its representative in Jordan Clarkson, who plays for the national team occasionally, but only counts as a naturalized player under FIBA rules. Naturalized Filipino Andray Blatche has also had a relatively decent career in the NBA, but he was only made a Filipino after his NBA stint. Other players like Ray Parks, Kobe Paras, Kiefer Ravena, and Johnny Abarrientos were almost there, but for one reason or another, didn’t make the NBA.
That leaves Kai Sotto. The big man is unequivocally the Philippines’ best chance at an NBA player, especially considering the average height of the island nation’s citizens. This makes for a very exciting prospect, because you know that if Kai Sotto does make the NBA, whatever team he’s cheering for will have gained a fanbase of over a hundred million people.
Return of the Big Man
Kai Sotto is 7-foot-2, and a legitimate one at that. That, if you weren’t aware, is really tall, and that could mean things that are just as big when it comes to the future of the NBA.
The NBA is currently right in the renaissance of the smallball movement. Gone are the days when basketball meant massive height and dominating the inside. As long as you can space the floor and have a nice shooting stroke, there’s a place for you in the NBA.
Where does this leave big men? Unfortunately, kind of nowhere. Where the NBA used to be dominated by big men like Kareem Abdul-Jabbar, Shaquille O’Neal, and Hakeem Olajuwon, this NBA has left big men a little stranded. There are definitely some great big men right now, but their skills aren’t nearly as impressive as maybe ten years ago.
This makes for an interesting situation for Kai Sotto. He has a pretty good shooting touch, but teams would be remiss if they didn’t capitalize on his height. But perhaps Kai Sotto’s existence is exactly the kind of future that the NBA needs to bring big men back. That’s a long way away, but the possibility is certainly there.
He’s One Reason to Watch the G-League
All this said, the biggest thing to watch for Kai Sotto might just boil down to his situation. The NBA is trying a new format with this G-League team made just for high schoolers, and with #1 ranked prospect Jalen Green on the team, there are a lot of eyes watching to see if this experiment will pan out.
Sotto’s raw size and relatively unproven skills will be one of the true tests to whether the G-League format works or not, and that development alone makes each of his games must-watch. Only time will tell if this actually pans out for the NBA, the G-League, and Sotto especially; but if it does, it’s gonna pay dividends.