NBA Draft: Tim Cone, the coach of Barangay Ginebra, doesn’t want to put Kai Sotto in a box just because he wants to play in the NBA.
Cone, who is going to the NBA Summer League to coach for the Miami Heat, said late Friday night after his team beat San Miguel Beer by a score of 75-72 and decided to move to the top of the standings: “He has unique skills.”
“If I may say so, he’s a baby unicorn. I won’t call him a unicorn because that’s more for Washington big man Kristaps Porzingis and Oklahoma City draftee Chet Holmgren. He is still getting better at what he does. He has a chance to get into the NBA. There’s no question,” added Cone.
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Cone said, “I think the next step for him is to play on a Summer League team and show off his skills.” “Someone’ll find him. If you are that great, the NBA will find you. You cannot hide.”
Friday (Manila time), during the second round of the NBA Draft, none of the 30 teams picked Sotto. It was likely the most-anticipated second round of the annual event. But Cone echoed what many people had said after the snub: The Draft isn’t the only way for NBA scouts and coaches to see Sotto.
“As I said, he still has a lot of ways to go. He only needs to look around. Never is it easy. “It’s often a matter of being in the right place at the right time,” the Grand Slam coach added.
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Sotto spent a season in Australia
Sotto, 7 feet 3 inches tall, spent a season in Australia with the Adelaide 36ers of the National Basketball League. Cone said that his height might have kept him hidden most of the time.
“It’s much harder to watch players from Australia than North Carolina, Georgia, UCLA, or somewhere else. So, they see highlights, watch videos, and talk to coaches. But unlike the prominent colleges, they don’t have a full-time NBA scout there to watch every game, Cone said.
“At this point, the pandemic hurt him, as it did a lot of guys. For a year and a half, you didn’t grow and change as you should have. He said he didn’t have a chance to show what he could do during those important years, which made things harder for him.
Sotto’s management team had previously said that he wouldn’t play in the Summer League in Las Vegas. However, the former Ateneo high school star made it clear that his agent “misspoke” and that this wasn’t true, as he had already been invited to play for several teams.
“I’m sure he’ll be invited because he needs to be picked up by someone. I’d like it if Miami did. “That would be beautiful,” said Cone. “He might go with Jimmy Alapag to the Sacramento Kings. He needs to play in the Summer League and show that he can play with the other guys there. Still, NBA players are in that Summer League. There are some, but not many.”
Cone hasn’t talked to his close friend Erik Spoelstra, the Heat’s coach, about Sotto yet.
Cone said, “I haven’t had a chance, but when I get there and go for my morning walks with Spo, I will ask about Kai.”
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