Kai Sotto took another step into his NBA journey after reports surfaced of him being invited to join the Orlando Magic’s summer league team.
It’s a welcome development for Sotto, who last year reportedly turned down summer league offers after going undrafted. At that time, though, he was under a different agent and now that Sotto is with Wasserman, things seem to be better for the 21-year old.
A summer league roster spot is by no means a surefire way into the NBA, but it nonetheless opens a door that not everyone gets a chance to even enter through.
Right now, the realistic goal for Sotto is a two-way contract, whether or not it comes from the Magic. Two-way players are only allowed to play up to 50 games with their NBA team and usually spend the rest of their time with the franchise’s NBA G-League affiliate. Getting some NBA time in while also enjoying more reps in the G-League should give Sotto ample opportunities to develop. That includes more coaching and guidance, something he may not have consistently even gotten during his NBL and B.League stints for various reasons.
That being said, Sotto should be at his best between now until the end of summer league. While the rest of the NBA will see what he can do on the court, Orlando will get a look at him both on and off the court. It would be too much of an ask to have Sotto play a major role, but he still has the upside that teams see as worth developing.
Working in his favor is the fact that the Magic picked him up despite earlier reports that Sotto attended camps with the Utah Jazz, New York Knicks, and the Dallas Mavericks. Orlando must have seen something they liked and with Wendell Carter Jr. being the only player with a fully guaranteed contract, the opportunity is there for Sotto.
The prospect of Sotto being in the summer league is exciting, but Filipinos have to temper their expectations with regard to what comes after. There are still DNP-CDs in summer league and opportunities can be few and far between if other players soak up minutes. The possibility of (God forbid) injury also looms, but Sotto has thus far been able to avoid major injuries in his career.
Regardless of what happens, Sotto has firmly put his name out there. After playing in Australia and Japan, both of which have quality basketball, he gets to test himself against higher competition and determine how far he is and what he needs to work on. Sotto will also be immersed in NBA-level coaching that is geared towards development rather than wins. He’s shown that he’s gotten better as the level of coaching goes up and him being a sponge could work in his favor.
If anything, this experience will also help him when he joins Gilas Pilipinas at the conclusion of summer league. The Philippines’ opponents in the 2023 FIBA Basketball World Cup are experienced, mature, and definitely won’t back down. Regardless of what’s been said, we all know that Gilas needs Sotto more than he needs them. He’s also suited up for the national team whenever they needed him to do so. Besides, a motivated Sotto (regardless of the outcome of his summer league stint) should pose problems when Gilas Pilipinas head coach Chot Reyes will use him well.
What happens, though, if no NBA team reaches out after summer league? All is not lost as Sotto will turn 22 in less than a year. Moreover, he has an option to return to the Hiroshima Dragonflies, who can give him a springboard to another summer league stint with a full B.League season under his belt.
A summer league appearance is an indication that the NBA dream is alive and kicking for Kai Sotto, but there is no guarantee beyond July… just yet. At the moment, the onus is on him to give his best efforts because there won’t be a dearth of suitors when Sotto is at his best.