This wasn’t the timid, trying too hard, Bruno Caboclo the Toronto Raptors sent down to their NBA D-League affiliate in Mississauga last November. Not even close. Caboclo swatted a Raptors 905 club record 7 blocks in his 2016-17 debut as he recorded a team-high 17 points on 7-14 shooting and grabbed 10 rebounds to flirt with a triple-double in the 117-83 win over the visiting Long Island Nets.
New 905 head coach Jerry Stackhouse was quick to take credit for the Raptors prospect’s hot start.
“He’s with me,” coach Stackhouse responded to Pro Bball Report. “He’s hearing me over there yelling go at him. (Caboclo) can do everything, it’s not that he can’t do anything, he can do everything so it’s about giving him the confidence to know that we want him to do it and I think that he came out and we drew up the first play for him tonight and he hit an open three. That got his confidence going.
“With Bruno it’s just about his confidence, not to come in here and get tight about the game. I got to figure out more ways, more creative ways, to get him to just relax. I don’t know if it’s just getting him a book to read or coming in with me before the game or even watching a movie or something, just not to be so uptight about the game of basketball.
“Everybody here loves (Caboclo). It’s my job. Masai (Ujiri) does a great job of identifying talent and he feels like Bruno is going to be a great player in this league (the NBA) and it’s our job to make sure that he does it. (Ujiri) found me.
Caboclo came into the game like a house on fire hitting a pair of corner threes and crashing the glass for a putback as the 905 raced out to an 11-0 lead. He used his length for easy blocks and he had the play of the game when he drove from just inside the three-point line past multiple defenders for the reverse dunk or maybe it was the rundown of an errant pass to reach across the timeline and throw a lob to center Yanick Moreira for the easy score with just a second left on the shot clock?
“Most of what (Caboclo) does is on the offensive end, but where I think he could really make his mark is on the defensive end,” Stackhouse said. “You can’t see anything when he’s on you and he’s aggressive and he has the ability to get beat and still be able to recover and protect the rim and do different things like that and get his hands and make it a really tough shot, a tough contest. That’s where we got to continue to build.”
Caboclo was understandably happy with his performance.
“I feel good,” Caboclo said postgame. “Using my length all the game, trying to impact the defense and trying to get offensive rebounds.
“I am a lot more confident (this year.) I have been working a lot and the game is just coming now.
“(Coach Stackhouse) is good. He is very tough and everybody is scared they don’t make a mistake and our relationship is very good. We play one-on-one together. He plays with everybody and shows (us) the game like he knows and everybody (wants to) learn what he (can) pass (on) to us.”
Stackhouse was a two-time NBA All-Star who played 18 seasons and averaged 16.9 points during his career. He still looks like he could lace up the shoes and be a player coach. “It’s crossed my mind,” Stackhouse said.
The new 905 coach definitely has Caboclo off to a good start.