When big man Jonas Valanciunas went down with an injury in the 2016 NBA Playoffs for the Toronto Raptors, many thought that the team wouldn’t advance far in the post-season.
But, as he showed over the course of the regular season, backup center Bismack Biyombo showed that he was no slouch. He was capable of playing big minutes and being an impact player on both ends of the floor for the Raptors. Biyombo was a key piece of the Raptors’ run to the Eastern Conference Finals.
After Toronto’s season came to an end, Biyombo opted out of his contract, becoming a free agent on July 1st. With Biyombo in a position to see a massive pay raise, and the Raptors possibly letting him go to another team, the focus turned to a backup center on draft night.
Several names were thrown for the Raptors in the 9th slot. From Henry Ellenson to Jakob Poeltl, and Marquese Chriss to Domantas Sabonis, the Raptors could have went several directions.
After picks ahead of them fell into place, the decision became clear for Toronto.
Jakob Poeltl, the native of Vienna, Austria, is the newest member of the Toronto Raptors after hearing his name called as the 9th overall selection in the 2016 NBA Draft.
During his time with the Utah Utes, Poeltl emerged as one of the nation’s premier big men. After a strong freshman campaign in 2014-15, Poeltl opted to return to school for his sophomore campaign, and it worked out in his favour.
He was the team’s leading scorer, rebounder, and shot blocker in 2015-16, averaging 17.2 points, 9.1 rebounds, and 1.6 blocks per contest.
Poeltl shot an impressive 64.6% from the floor as a sophomore last season, and improved his free throw shooting to just below 70%. Over the course of the year, Poeltl shot 60% or better from the floor in 23 of the Utes’ 36 games.
He is an effective scorer in and around the paint. He has solid footwork and a strong repertoire of moves to get around defenders. Poeltl is an impact player on both ends of the floor, and can be an impact player for the Raptors off the bench as early as next season.
At 7′ tall and 235 pounds, Jakob Poeltl is a great fit for the Toronto Raptors, as he fills a void and can also contribute right away in a reserve role.
With the Raptors, Poeltl joins former Utah teammate Delon Wright, who sold him on Toronto during the pre-draft process.
– T. Bennett