Jakob Poeltl hasn’t had much attention for somebody taken at pick 9 in the NBA draft, overshadowed by the age scandal surrounding Thon Maker; the player picked after him.
The people who are talking about Jakob, tend to be a collection of angry Raptors fans. But why? What about this pick upset the Raptors general fanbase?
First of all, I think this selection may have triggered some “Bargnani-eqse” flashbacks. Except this is the opposite. Poeltl’s potential struggle at transitioning to the NBA (and I will talk more in-depth on this) is going to stem from the offensive side of the ball. His work ethic, foot speed, pick and roll defense, shot blocking and his coachability are all without question; Jakob Poeltl is a workhorse. Whereas with Bargnani, his struggles were on the defensive end, along with lackluster rebounding, athleticism, and the overall ability to even give a damn.
So who is Jakob Poeltl? Why did the Raptors select him, and how is he going to fit into what the Raptors are doing right now?
Jakob was born and raised in the capital of Austria; Vienna. Both of his parents played on the Austrian National volleyball team, yet Jakob decided to choose basketball at a very young age.
In the 2013 FIBA Under-18 Championship, Jakob and his club went 1-6, but his play in the tournament caught the eyes of Andy Hill; assistant coach at the University of Utah. Head Coach Larry Krystkowiak, made the trip out to Vienna more than once, and swayed the 18-year-old big man to come and play in Utah.
Jakob became a starter in his first year, and proved to be extremely coachable and an extremely quick learner as coaches and scouts around the league could see his improvement from game to game.
So what prompted the Raptors to select Jakob with the 9th overall pick? Well, we all knew a team was going to throw a huge deal at Biyombo. That team, as we all know, ended up being the Orlando Magic, and the Raptors didn’t match the 4-year $72 Million dollar contract. The Raptors will likely slot Poeltl into Biyombo’s previous role, and will end up saving an absolute fortune, along with developing Poeltl in a backup role, and leaving a lot of room on the table for the Raptors free-agency future, along with their chances at having enough for Lowry at the end of next season.
So how come so many Raptors fans were accusing the front office of “playing it safe”? Well, many fans were hoping that the Raptors would go for Thon Maker. But simply put; the Raptors are in “win-now” mode. The window to be a contender is extremely short for a lot of teams, and with this core, this is the best shot that the Raptors have ever had. So with a hole to fill at the backup center position, the Raptors have selected someone that they know is coachable, will work hard, prioritize defense and actually know his date of birth.
So for all the fans left “scratching their heads” after this selection. Maybe just wait until you actually see this kid play. He’s going to be a huge asset for the Raptors, and look for him to build up minutes right away. He’s the kind of player that coaches love to have out on the floor, and epitomizes what Dwane Casey loves in a player.
In terms of the Raptors bigmen; Jonas, Jakob, Bebe and Thompson are their pure centers, with Patterson being able to play the 5 in a pinch. Look for Jakob to improve exponentially throughout this season, as he will be banging bodies with Jonas every day.
If you still aren’t sold on Jakob, and you wished that the Raps’ took a chance on Thon with the 9th pick, put your trust in the front office that drafted DeRozan and Jonas with two of their last 4 lottery picks.