MANILA, Philippines – Kai Sotto has a huge uphill climb ahead of him after he declared for the 2022 NBA Draft on Thursday, April 28.
As talented as he may be, the 7-foot-3 teen titan is well below the projected top 60 in multiple mock drafts heading to the highly anticipated event this June 23 (June 24, Manila time).
ESPN, the only mainstream outlet with rankings beyond top 60, has Sotto as the 99th best player of the draft, and the 11th best center. Other reputable outlets which stretch beyond the first round like Bleacher Report, Sports Illustrated, CBS Sports, and USA Today also don’t have the Adelaide 36ers’ big man in their top 60.
Meanwhile, the lesser-known NBADraft.net stretches to the top 100, but likewise doesn’t have the homegrown Filipino prospect on the board at all. NBA Draft Room, with one of the most extensive mock draft lists available, has Sotto as the 113th best player, just four spots ahead of 117th-ranked Fil-Am guard Remy Martin.
Unfortunately for those hoping that these big boards will be wrong, many NBA rookie classes are heavily researched more than a year in advance, and generally paint a good picture on how the real draft will go.
It also doesn’t help Sotto’s chances that the Miami Heat and the Chicago Bulls both had their second-round picks forfeited due to off-season free agency tampering, meaning there will only be 58 players selected this June.
For now, Gonzaga’s Chet Holmgren and Duke’s Paolo Banchero are near-consensus top picks, and are just interchanging places depending on the outlet reporting the mock draft.
Still, these are all hypothetical lists, hence the word “mock.” Many surprises have happened in actual drafts over the years, like the Oklahoma City Thunder picking Josh Giddey – another Australia NBL product like Sotto – sixth overall after being projected to be selected in the 10 to 14 range.
Players rise and fall by the minute as trades and last-minute changes take place, and it’s always a possibility that Sotto will find himself having a long-awaited NBA home when that fateful night in June is done.
Aside from having undeniable upside, the former NBA G League prospect will also surely bring with him a massive fan base boost from rabid Pinoy fans – something other NBA teams may want from a business standpoint.
Amid all these uncertainties, what is for sure is that Filipino sports fans will always have Sotto’s back through and through, drafted or not. – Rappler.com
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