The New York Knicks will be working out the Philippines’ top NBA prospect Kai Sotto next week, per league sources.
The 7-foot-4 Sotto is fresh from playing in Australia’s National Basketball League, where the previous lottery picks LaMelo Ball and Josh Giddey played before entering the NBA.
The 20-year-old Sotto averaged 7.5 points on 50% shooting, 4.5 rebounds and 0.8 blocks in just 15 minutes off the bench for the Adelaide 36ers, the same team that groomed Giddey. His strong finish in his NBL stint has intrigued several NBA teams. Aside from the Knicks, Sotto has 11 more workouts lined up for him despite not getting an invitation to the NBA Draft Combine in Chicago.
“I got [off to] a slow start but I think as time went by, I played better. The whole process has been amazing,” Sotto said of his NBL stint.
He capped his promising NBL campaign, scoring in double figures in three of his final five games, including a career-high 21 points in 18 minutes off the bench against the three-time NBL champion Brisbane Bullets.
The Filipino prospect has been working out in Atlanta with NBA skills trainer and former Columbia University star Jeremiah Boswell to prepare for the NBA Draft.
“I’m just working on my strengths and weaknesses, trying to improve my all-around game and try to be ready for the NBA Draft in the team workouts,” Sotto recently told Lakersnation.com.
Sotto projects to be a stretch big man in the next level that offers rim protection and decent court vision. He displayed his soft touch from the perimeter in the NBL, albeit in a small sample size, shooting 38 percent from deep.
Happy 20th birthday @kzsottolive! Keep working hard! pic.twitter.com/MQcwJo004u
— alder almo (@alderalmo) May 11, 2022
“(The perimeter shooting) is one of the things I try my best to improve on, and it’s going to be a weapon for me when I master it,” Sotto said. “I just need a lot of reps to have confidence in myself.”
His solid footwork came from studying NBA legends Hakeem Olajuwon and Tim Duncan.
A former four-star prospect, Sotto starred for Atlanta-based prep team The Skills Factory. He nixed playing in the U.S. NCAA and instead signed with the inaugural G League Ignite Team. However, conflicts with his commitment to the Philippine national team in FIBA tournaments aborted his G League stint.
Even @BobanMarjanovic couldn't stop him ?#FIBAOQT | @kzsottolive pic.twitter.com/LKJaLO7S1L
— FIBA (@FIBA) June 30, 2021
Sotto hopes to become the first full-blooded and homegrown Filipino to play in the NBA. Currently, the league has two players with Filipino lineage — Houston Rockets’ Jalen Green and Jordan Clarkson.
New York has the third-largest Filipino immigrants in the U.S., with a 236,000 population, according to a 2019 census.
The Knicks have a stacked frontline with the emergence of last year’s second-round pick Jericho Sims into a serviceable rotation player. Barring any trades, Nerlens Noel and Mitchell Robinson, who has yet to agree to a contract extension, are projected to patrol the paint for the Knicks next season.
The Knicks own the 11th and 42nd pick in June’s NBA Draft.
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