"We're always running": Raptors' rookie Koloko getting used to Nick Nurse's high-intensity practices

Oct 4 2022, 9:09 pm

Toronto Raptors rookie Christian Koloko is learning one thing fast with his new team: the coaching staff likes to work their players hard.

“We’re always running,” Koloko told reporters today about getting used to the Raptors’ high-intensity practices. “The coaches always want me running rim-to-rim. I’ve just got to get in better shape and that’s the only thing for me, to get in better shape.”

The coaching staff is led, of course, by Nick Nurse, the 2019 NBA Champion and 2020 NBA Coach of the Year.

Praise has been widespread for Nurse’s methods, even if they’re known to be unconventional.

Raptors president Masai Ujiri called him a “mad scientist,” while Golden State Warriors head coach Steve Kerr said last year his schemes are “crazy.”

Nurse was named earlier today in a survey of the league’s general managers as one of the NBA’s top coaches on both the offensive and defensive ends of the floor.

Last year, Nurse’s Raptors’ led the league with 34.1 minutes per game played by the starting lineup.

“Yeah, it was conditioning. We’re conditioning them through the year for this,” Nurse said with a smirk following a playoff win last season when asked about if their high minutes helped them tire their opponents out. “It probably hasn’t hurt.”

“Yes, they have been playing a lot of minutes,” Ujiri told reporters at a media availability in February of this year. “Some of it is to put them in those situations because what’s a playoff situation going to be eventually when these guys play? It’s going to be like that, it’s them playing in heavy situations. We have to learn these things.”

Far from the playoffs, Koloko suited up for his first NBA preseason action earlier this week, picking up seven points and three rebounds in 17 minutes of action. And while he admitted to some pre-game jitters in front of the sold-out Rogers Place in Edmonton, he realized it was “just basketball” once the game started, despite still learning the ways of the pro game.

“People in the NBA are more athletic, faster, and stronger than in college,” Koloko added today. “I’m just going to continue to do my job, protecting the rim, but it’s not going to be as easy as it was in college. They’re stronger, they’re better, overall, better finishers… but I’m gonna get used to it, I’m not worried about it.”

It might be his first NBA training camp, but no one’s going easy on him, on his team or otherwise.

Welcome to the Nick Nurse School of Hard Knocks, Christian.

Adam LaskarisAdam Laskaris

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