Monday, June 27, 2022
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Opinion | The Raptors draft a long, versatile, raw young talent to groom? How did we not see that coming


I didn’t spend an awful lot of time investigating who the Raptors might take with the 33rd pick in last night’s draft.

I figured the group was too large, the vagaries of who would go in the first 32 picks too big, the sheer scope of trying to discern which college kid I’d never seen play would be the best “fit” seemed a complete waste of my time.

That said, had I gone through all the possibilities, scoured the various rosters and devoured all the mock drafts out there, I bet I would have nailed it.

An athletic 7-footer with a ginormous wingspan and defensive chops who is a raw talent with a mere 10 years or so of basketball experience who hails from the same hometown as Pascal Siakam?

I don’t know who precisely Christian Koloko is but he’s basically the poster boy for what the Raptors are and want to be, isn’t he?

His name would have verily jumped off the page had I done a lot of research and applied Toronto’s philosophy to this year’s draft.

A total no-brainer and I’m shocked that no Irregular seems to even have mentioned his name in passing over the last month or so.

Now, I have no idea if the kid can play at the NBA level – the highlights I saw last night were impressive but anyone who got drafted could put together a minute or two of “wow” moments to titillate fans

But if you know, you know.

About five minutes after I got to this Andrew Nembhard dinner I was at last night – more on that later and I hope a very good story up here this afternoon – one of the first guys I talked to told me he’d heard that Masai had promised Koloko he’d be a Raptor if his name was still on the board at 33 and lo and behold, three hours later the deed was done.

So someone connected was paying attention through the process.

We’ll get to chat with Koloko later on this afternoon, I understand, so we should get a better idea of what makes him tick after that.

But for now, I think we can all agree that for where the Raptors were drafting, what kind of player they want to teach and develop, Koloko was the absolute “duh!” pick of the draft.

How did no one see it coming?

Okay, the inbox for Ye Olde Mailbag remains basically empty and that will never do this late in the week.

To make it worthwhile for all of us – for me to spend a good chunk of Saturday puttering around on it, you to spend some leisure time Sunday reading it – we need a full slate of submissions.

You make that happen by clicking on [email protected] sometime today.

Just when you think we’ve gone too far, we go further.

A suggestion that Amazon is working on a program with Everyone’s Friend Alexa that will somehow allow people to have conversations with dead relatives?

I don’t know if that’s more scary or icky or dangerous.

It’s probably the last thing any of us needs or wants and I’d suggest the great minds of technology might be better off trying to solve real world problems than trying to, basically, bring back the dead.

Personally, I think we should be left with our minds and memories rather than some tricked up version of a voice from our past.

I’m probably in the minority but, man, the thought of it sends shivers down my spine.

Loved ones live in our hearts and our heads, not in some voice box on the kitchen counter.

I haven’t watched very much of the pucks final at all – I’m sure that’s a huge surprise to all of you – but I do feel compelled to tune in tonight for what might be the last game of the year for one obvious reason:

To see how the NHL will screw it up.

Some dopey offside video review of a marginal play with a skate blade hovering over the blueline?

A player in the crease?

Six or seven or eight guys on the ice for one team?

A scripted fight?

So many ways. So many possibilities.

So, yeah, thanks to the kindness and generosity of the Nembhard family and his agent, I spent quite a bit of time with them this week including a lovely time last night at a family dinner in a private room of a Yorkville steakhouse that was so far out of my wheelhouse it’s not even funny.

The story on it all should be done later this morning I think it’ll work out okay but I have to tell you, to see the emotion and the smile when Andrew got the call from Rick Carlisle telling him the Pacers had made the pride of Aurora the 31st pick was really, really neat.

It was, frankly, a life-changing moment and the culmination of countless hours of hard work, dedication and sacrifice.

The moment’s going to stay with him forever; it’s going to stay with me for some time, too.

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