Drop Steps

Kai Soto, A Player To Watch

By Lamar Battle

No matter how weak an NBA draft may be there are always diamonds in the rough.  Some of those diamonds are  immediately ready but others may require some seasoning.
7′ 2″ Filipino Phenom and NBA G League player Kai Soto is such a player.
Upon spying some early footage of him I was unimpressed as he appeared really slim, contact averse and slow of foot.
It was only after I checked him out a bit more that I could see what makes him special and a player with a bright bright future.
The first thing I noticed was his foot work which is already better than a lot of current NBA big men.  There was no mystery in that as Kai gave credit to his dad (a basketball player himself) who instructed young Kai to study tapes of Hakeem Olajawon and Tim Duncan.
Daddy was no fool and his son apparently took those lessons to heart.  Another key attribute are his soft hands and above average hand eye coordination.  Kai can dribble, pass (exceptional passing ability) and shoot with both hands.
While evaluating big guys one should note whether or not the player has a good set of wheels (legs) as a lot of scouts refer to them as.  Some examples of big men with solid wheels are Kareem Abdul Jabbar, Bill Walton (I didn’t say feet), Tim Duncan, Bill Russell and surprisingly Dennis Rodman.
Kai has a solid set of wheels and with consistent strength training he will gain the confidence needed to hold his position in the post.
There are hoards of players out there with skills but what differentiates good from the really good ?  Background, basketball smarts, confidence and fire in the belly are just some of the factors required to make that jump.
Kai spoke with great passion about how the basketball crazed  Philippines ( a religion he likened the sports popularity to ) add to his desire to bring glory to his home country but only time will tell if he has the competitive fire of an exceptional player.
Kai has obviously benefitted from some top flight coaching along the way and like a lot of guys he could really grow by going to a quality college program like Gonzaga, U of Virginia or the  U of Kentucky.  If he is lucky down the road he could benefit also from joining an NBA team with a winning culture like  the Toronto Raptors, New Orleans Pelicans or Denver Nuggets.
Kai Sotto is nowhere near a finished product but he is blessed with a lot of the tools needed to put him on the right track.

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