LIKE many others in this basketball-crazy nation Mark Dickel believes Kai Sotto has what it takes to make it to the NBA.
In Dickel’s eyes, however, Sotto must put in extra work on one facet of the game to realize his dream of landing a roster spot in the NBA and stay in the world’s foremost professional basketball league.
“He’s gonna have to be able to guard screen and rolls really well in order for him to make the NBA or to be an NBA prospect,”said Dickel during a Hoop Coaches International Webinar hosted by Blackwater.
“I think he can do that,” added the TNT active consultant and interim Gilas Pilipinas coach.
“But that’s the hardest thing for big guys: to learn how to guard screen and rolls. If you’re him the offensive end is gonna be far far easier than the defensive end.”
Dickel has had a close up look of Sotto while the latter was still with the Ateneo High School squad and the assessment went on until the player made the US his base last year.
“He’s improved a lot in the last year,” noted Dickel. “Got to spend a little bit of time with him because I live right across the road from Ateneo and I’ve seen a lot of his practices.
“I think he’s a super talent.”
The 18-year-old has been making headlines this past week after deciding to skip college and signing with the NBA’s G-League’s professional pathway program, becoming the first international prospect to do so.
In the Select Squad, “S-Kai” joins Fil-Am sensation Jalen Green, as well as other top prospects in Isaiah Todd and Daishen Nix.
Dickel, a two-time Olympian with the New Zealand team, could only offer some advice for Sotto.
“He has shown the ability to shoot the ball. But the game is changing all the time, so he’s gonna have to be able to stretch the ball up to the three-point line,” said the tactician.
Dickel, though, doesn’t have any issues with the Gilas Pilipinas Youth product’s prowess on the offensive end.
“I’m sure on offense, in three to four years from now, Kai is gonna be a good enough player to be able to give every team anywhere in the world problems.”
Still, offense is just one part of the game and Dickel said Sotto should really focus on is his all-around game, particularly guarding screen and rolls as that has been the thing in the NBA.
“If he can work on his agility, if he can work on his strength a little bit, if he can work on his quickness, if he can really work on guarding screen and rolls because in the NBA that’s all there is, screen and roll, screen and roll, screen and roll.
“How is he going to get really, really good at doing that? If he can, then there’s a role for him in the NBA.”