Brian Shaw: Kai Sotto has ‘ability to play like Jokic’
MANILA, Philippines—Kai Sotto has still got a lot to go through before he reaches his NBA dreams but he’s already getting lofty comparisons this early in his career.
Brian Shaw, the NBA G League Select Team head coach, said Sotto has the traits to become a similar player to Denver Nuggets All-Star Nikola Jokic.
“I think Kai, with a lot of bigs in the NBA, has the ability to play like Jokic,” said Shaw in a media availability session via Zoom for the NBA Republika Playoffs Thursday.
“Based on the film I saw, he can shoot outside. He can be a facilitator where you can put him on top of the floor and do dribble hand-offs just like Jokic.”
The 7-foot-2 Sotto enrolled at The Skill Factory in Atlanta, after playing high school basketball for Ateneo in the UAAP, to further develop his skills as he heads for his NBA dream.
Sotto then joined Shaw’s Select Team in the G League and will play alongside prep stars Jalen Green and Daishen Nix in the lineup.
“He’s [Sotto] pretty versatile but he has to get stronger,” said Shaw. “He can play with his back to the basket or facing up.”
Shaw, however, reminded Sotto that becoming a better player takes time.
The three-time NBA champion said that former Laker center Andrew Bynum was a similar case to Sotto.
Bynum was seven feet tall and weighed 284 pounds and was just an absolute man child when he entered the NBA at 17-years-old.
Shaw said that Bynum, who became two-time champion and one-time All-Star, eventually learned how to use his body and turn into a more mature basketball player and he expects Sotto to do the same.
“Kai has the aptitude to play the game and he has a high basketball IQ, a good skill set, and he needs to do everything in game speed. Once he does that, he’ll naturally get better because he has the drive to get better,” said Shaw. “He doesn’t aspire to be in the G League, he wants to be in the NBA.”