Adelaide coach ‘not out to hurt’ Kai Sotto with limited minutes for 36ers
MANILA, Philippines — Adelaide coach CJ Bruton assured he’s “not out to hurt” Kai Sotto’s career despite the limited playing time of the Filipino prodigy in Australia’s 2022-23 National Basketball League.
The 7-foot-3 Filipino center only played for a total of 14 minutes in the first three games of his second season with the 36ers. Bruton said that his young player has to make an immediate impact during an interview with News Corp’s The Basketball Show.
“I’m not here to hurt the kid, I care for this kid and getting better and getting to his goal, which is ultimately playing in the NBA,” the coach said. “Yes, you do need to take the floor a little bit more, I need him to keep impacting the 36ers the right way that I need for us to be successful. For him to keep growing, I have more coaching staff with me this year to impact his development and growth, and when he does touch the floor, bit by bit he keeps improving.”
Bruton said the 20-year-old has been showing improvement amid tallying four points, 10 rebounds, and three blocks through three games.
“I love Kai, he’s a special kid,” he said. “His skillset helps us, and while you haven’t seen it a whole lot, I’m also playing to win games. I need to be successful; I want this city to be successful, I want Kai to keep improving.”
The Adelaide coach believes Sotto could come out of his shell in their next matches in November, playing three back-to-back weekend games on the road against the Melbourne United, New Zealand Breakers, and Perth Wildcats.
“Everyone thought he was going to come back and be a starter, I didn’t see the guy for six months of the off-season until he came back a few weeks beforehand,” Bruton said. “The improvement of my team to the improvement of Kai wasn’t on the same par, but I didn’t go air that to all of everybody, but he is developing in the right way.”
“I think he’s really going to help us over the next month or so,” he added. “He’s doing everything, I mentioned in video, just his impact, and while it was a very short impact, they were winning plays for us. He’s getting better each and every day.”
Bruton is hopeful that Sotto would surpass his previous 15 minutes of playing time last season, where he averaged 7.5 points, 4.5 rebounds, 0.8 blocks, and 0.5 assists.
“Hopefully, he plays a little more minutes than he played last year,” he said.
Sotto and the 36ers, who currently hold a 2-1 record, battle the New Zealand Breakers (4-2) on Friday.