Kai Sotto modeling game after Nikola Jokic and Giannis Antetokounmpo

Published May 28, 2022, 7:30 PMPolo Bustamante
Polo Bustamante

NBA Draft hopeful Kai Sotto is looking at two MVP-level players for inspiration.

Kai Sotto is deep into his preparations for the 2022 NBA Draft. For the past few weeks, he’s been training with Jeremiah Boswell, while his agent, Joel Bell, has been lining up several individual workouts with NBA teams. Both Boswell and Bell like what they’re seeing so far from the 20-year-old Filipino.

“He is focused on the big picture of getting better every day, working hard every day, and getting there,” Boswell shared during an exclusive interview with NBA.com Philippines organized by Smart. “So Kai has goals and we all have goals and so we’ve gotta push through this window.”

Those goals are lofty. The expectations for Kai were already high with pre-draft comparisons ranging from Zhou Qi to Kristaps Porzingis. Kai and his team are aiming even higher. 

Kai said he’s trying to model his game after NBA MVPs Giannis Antetokounmpo and Nikola Jokic. 

“I think those two guys if I try to learn from them and I get a combination of both, I think that would really help me as a player,” Kai shared. “Just the aggressiveness of Giannis and the basketball of Nikola Jokic, how he plays basketball the right way, I think that’s the biggest advantage.”

Bell believes that his player can be just as valuable to teams as the two MVPs. 

“You can run your offense through Kai and that is not something you can say a lot about a lot of frontcourt players in professional basketball. He’s got unbelievable basketball IQ. Forget the skills, and he’s actually a very good athlete okay? You can run your offense through him and he will make the right decisions that will not only help your team score but not help the other team.” said Bell. 

“And because Kai is a dependable person to pass the ball, and remember I said not only make the right pass but not make the wrong pass, that’s just as important, okay? He’s gonna be incredibly valued to an NBA team winning because he can do that and there are very few players his age, his size, his position that you can say we trust to make those decisions.”

WATCH: Kai Sotto gives pre-NBA Draft updates in exclusive interview

Kai is still very far away from being a Jokic or Antetokounmpo. He’s not even close to being Porzingis yet. But, he is definitely putting in the work to get there. He knows what needs to be done to be worthy of being selected in the upcoming draft.

“I mean there’s a lot of work to be done for my physique, my body, I have to get stronger. I mean it’s pretty obvious when you look at me I have to get stronger, faster.” While Kai is working on getting his body NBA-ready, Boswell is making sure he understands how to properly use that body they’re developing.

“Before when I saw him at TSF (The Skill Factory), he was so tall, so long but he didn’t realize the impact he could have by just putting his hand up or how he changes shots or blocks shots. And I think he’s realized that and again, that’s just a part of his process.”

That process is grueling, but Kai can take comfort in the fact that Antetokounmpo and Jokic went through the same journey. The two weren’t MVP-ready on day one. They worked long and hard, improving their body, as well as adding to their skill sets to get to where they are today. Both Bell and Boswell believe that all of Kai’s efforts will pay off once teams see how much he’s developed. 

“I am strongly convinced that when he visits the NBA teams in person, they’re gonna be kinda dazzled,” Bell said. 

“He looks like an NBA player,” declared Boswell.