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Has Bruno Caboclo Become The Raptors Forgotten Man?

Two years away from being two years away is becoming true for the Toronto Raptors third year prospect Bruno Caboclo and the Mississauga Raptors 905 D-League regular has become the forgotten man on the NBA roster.

“It’s tough,” Caboclo told Pro Bball Report. “I do what they say. I do my part at the side. I am still working and waiting for my time.”

And who is mentoring Caboclo in Toronto?  “I don’t know,” the young forward responded.

His time isn’t likely to come anytime soon in Toronto. Caboclo is the 15th man on a 15 man roster and has played fewer minutes than even the team’s fourth string undrafted rookie point guard Fred VanVleet. It would take a run of injuries of epic proportion for him to crack the rotation this season, so it’s been back to the Mississauga Raptors to get the playing time necessary to learn the game.

The acquisition of an owned and controlled NBA Development League franchise by the Raptors last year has already proven to be a huge benefit. Norman Powell, Delon Wright and Lucas Nogueira were obvious beneficiaries last season, however, the 905 may have saved Caboclo’s professional basketball future.

Caboclo was drafted on talent and physical attributes with very little basketball experience behind him and his first year in Toronto was an unmitigated waste of time with no controlled D-League team to develop him on. He played 62 minutes in 7 games with the Fort Wayne Mad Ants who made it abundantly clear with several DNP-CDs that they didn’t want him there.

On the 905 last season Caboclo played 1270 minutes and was allowed to work thru his insecurities, inexperience and numerous mistakes and he got better and he’ll continue to improve this year going from the much-needed kid-glove approach of Jesse Mermuys last year to the all-business approach of new 905 head coach Jerry Stackhouse.

“Jesse (Mermuys) and Stackhouse are two different coaches,” Caboclo said. “Stackhouse wants us to play different defense and offense. He wants us to do every detail, to be perfect. Basketball is a game of mistakes and with him, (he wants) less. He works us very hard every day.”

The primary reason the 905 exists is to help players under contract with the Toronto Raptors improve and get ready to help win games in the NBA, so players like Caboclo get a lot of attention and help. Stackhouse, the staff and even the 905 players recognize this and it benefits a young guy like Caboclo.

“The 905 is like everybody is family,” Caboclo said. “Everybody helps each other, the coach too.”

And Caboclo knows he has gotten better because he’s been playing in Mississauga over the last year.

“My game has changed,” Caboclo said. “My body has changed too. I can see the change already.

“Every game I play I get better and it’s better to play too.

“I am getting a little bit of confidence.”

Playing in the D-League has helped Caboclo. He has put together multiple 20 point 10 rebound efforts there. He also set a new franchise record for blocks with 7 earlier this season. He’s learning and gaining confidence because he has somewhere to play and a role that’s important when he does play.

A forgotten man in Toronto, but not ignored by the organization. The Raptors are giving this very raw, inexperienced and unpolished natural talent an opportunity to learn the game out of the limelight. He might just become the something special president Masai Ujiri envisioned two years ago with another two years playing in Mississauga.

 

 

Stephen_Brotherston_insideStephen Brotherston covers the Toronto Raptors and visiting NBA teams at the Air Canada Centre and is a member of the Professional Basketball Writers Association.