Kai Sotto’s NBA 2K24 Summer League experience ended with a whimper and not a bang.

Though not on his own accord.

A bad back forced Sotto to sit out the second half of the Orlando Magic’s 94-77 loss to the Boston Celtics, putting an abrupt end to Sotto’s summer league stint just as it technically began. While he was scoreless in the loss to the Celtics, he finished with two rebounds and a block, bringing his per-game averages to 3.0 points, 3.0 rebounds, 2.0 blocks, and an assist.

Despite the relatively abrupt end, it was a good idea to shut Sotto down given that his long-term health remains a priority. The Magic had nothing to play for and the former Adelaide 36er was slated to join Gilas Pilipinas in the coming days.

The limited opportunities and the numbers seem to point to a quiet summer league stint, but his short time in Las Vegas nonetheless brought out some realizations. 

Excitement is not a problem, but expectations must be managed

Coming into the NBA 2K24 Summer League, much of the Philippines was excited to see Sotto strut his stuff against highly-touted rookies and some veterans looking to crack an NBA roster. Social media was alive and the discourse, from Orlando’s roster moves offering clues to Sotto’s chances at a contract to Filipinos coming in droves, there was a lot of hype.

Yet hype may have contributed to how this whole experience left many wanting for more.

It took three games before Sotto entered the court, much to the chants of the Filipinos in the crowd. Some were happy to have seen Sotto, the brightest hope for a full-blooded Filipino to make it to the NBA, on the court. Yet there were also those that were disappointed with the lack of minutes and in turn, opportunities. The wide spectrum of reactions towards Kai’s summer league stint were largely due to expectations fueled by some of the wild opinions from various quarters.

Perhaps the better approach would have been to enjoy Sotto’s opportunities as they come, given that him being there is a big achievement. Sotto put his name out there and given his unique set of skills, that may prove valuable in the future.

The more crucial summer league for Sotto may be the next one he gets invited to

Sotto leaves this summer league with some homework for his second season with the Hiroshima Dragonflies and when he returns to the Philippines for the national team’s preparations for the 2023 FIBA Basketball World Cup.

For one, bigger opponents continue to have their way with Sotto, who needs to rely on his smarts and longer limbs to compensate. Sometimes it works, but more often than not, smarter opponents know how to negate his effectiveness especially on the boards.

There were also moments where Sotto seemed to look tentative, especially on offense, where great screens and his penchant for passing the ball also came with moments where his shoulders were slumped. One can’t blame him given the DNPs he received, but his body language will be something teams could take note of.

They should, however, note how his active hands help keep a play alive, a trait that is needed when possessions are few and far between.

The path to the NBA for Filipinos is through an established program

For all his talents, Sotto’s road to the NBA remains an uphill climb. He was generally not known outside of Philippine circles prior to summer league and the failed G-League Ignite stint was a terrible first impression.

The G-League Ignite stint would not have necessarily brought a guarantee towards making the NBA, but it would have familiarized Sotto with what it takes to make it to the league from the jump. Looking ahead, future Filipino prospects may opt to take the US NCAA path or even a stint in the G-League or Europe given how NBA teams usually get the players they want to develop (without putting too much pressure on them). Sure, the experience is great, but players from there, particularly in Europe, come out much smarter than their peers and always find a home basketball-wise.


We all wanted more from the Kai Sotto NBA 2K24 Summer League experience, but we all got more out of it than we expected. On our end it’s the managing of expectations and facing reality. In a way, Sotto got a reality check, but who doesn’t?

What matters more is how he uses this experience moving forward because that could spell the difference between another chance at summer league or watching the events in Las Vegas from the sidelines (just like all of us).