Raptors select Jakob Poeltl with No. 9 pick in 2016 NBA draft

The Raptors selected Utah forward Jakob Poeltl with the No. 9 pick in the 2016 NBA draft.
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The Raptors selected Utah forward Jakob Poeltl with the No. 9 pick in the 2016 NBA draft.

Poeltl is an Austrian born big man who came onto the scene during the 2013 FIBA Europe U–18 Championships. During that tournament, Poeltl averaged a double double. He played college ball at Utah, where he started all 80 games over his two years at the school. During his time, Poeltl was named Pac-12 player of the year and received second team All-America honors. He averaged 13.3 points, 8 rebounds and 1.3 assists per game for his career.

Poeltl will become the first Austrian–born player to sign with an NBA team.

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Strengths: Poeltl is the best back-to-the-basket player in this year’s draft. He’s a big who plays well on both ends, scoring in the paint on offense and protecting the rim on defense. He doesn’t have a terrific variety of post moves, but his hands, footwork and athleticism put him in a position to contribute immediately as a mobile post player. Free throws used to be a major weakness, but Poeltl improved tremendously during his sophomore season, jumping from 44.4% to 68.9%.

Weaknesses: One big question for Poeltl is how his game will translate to the modern NBA. Versatility is crucial, and right now that’s a quality he lacks on the offensive end. Poeltl operates almost exclusively in the paint and doesn’t possess a great wingspan, which limits his rebounding and shot-blocking ability. While his mobility helps him out defensively, Poeltl will need to improve his range. As he is now, Poeltl has a role in the NBA. But his career won’t be able to take off until he expands his offensive game.

Grade: B+

Explanation: With BismackBiyombo likely priced out of a return to Toronto, center became a need for the Raptors. They should be poised for another playoff run, and found some pro-ready help at No. 9 in Poeltl, whose back to the basket skills and size make him a nice asset. He likely can’t share the floor with Jonas Valanciunas, but the Raptors can conceivably batter opposing bench lineups on the interior for the next several years. Toronto still needs shooting and help on the wing, but this is a nice fit. - Jeremy Woo