5 storylines to watch for Orlando Magic’s Summer League
The Kai Sotto Hype
If you have spent any time in the comment sections of any Orlando Magic site, you are likely to hear Kai Sotto’s name pop up.
This is not some whisper campaign to get his name in front of everyone, although it is kind of acting like one to get everyone to talk about him. This is the passion and excitement from fans and residents of The Philippines as Kai Sotto aims to be the first native-born player from the island nation to reach the NBA.
While there might be some outsized expectations expressed in those comments, Sotto does have a real chance to make an impression. As I noted earlier, this Magic team is short on centers and post players.
Sotto is going to get a very hard look and a lot of opportunity to showcase himself for one of those two-way spots.
Kai Sotto has a lot working for him. He is 7-foot-3 but is more like Bol Bol as a versatile big man (although Sotto is probably not nearly the ball-handler that Bol is). He has some outside shooting ability and mobility to go with his big frame.
Sotto though has had his struggles.
He averaged 7.5 points per game in 15.3 minutes per game through 23 appearances for the Adelaide 36ers of the NBL in 2022. He shot 38.5 percent from beyond the arc. That showcased some of his versatility.
He started last year in the NBL again, averaging 6.8 points per game and 4.5 rebounds per game while shooting 51.4 percent from the floor and 22.2 percent from beyond the arc in 27 games. This included a game of 16 points and seven rebounds against New Zealand. He still led the team in blocks.
He left the team in February and finished his season in Japan’s B League for Hiroshima. He played in 24 games to finish the season as their starting center, averaging 8.9 points per game and 1.3 blocks per game with 6.1 rebounds per game in 19.6 minutes per game.
It has been a wild journey for him. And Japan’s league is not viewed as a stepping stone to the NBA.
Still, he has his shot here with the Summer League team to make his mark. And Sotto should get a lot of opportunities this week to find his place in the basketball ecosystem.
It may still not be in the NBA. But there are skills and size that should entice teams. What he needs to take care of is to show he can defend and rebound better. The rest of his skills should fill in there.