Category Archives: Audio

NBA New Orleans Pelicans Alexis Ajinca

Ex-Raptors Series: Alexis Ajinca Back In The NBA To Stay

When Alexis Ajinca arrived in Toronto back in January 2011 he was the typical young big man who blew teams away with his unbelievable physical attributes and let them down hard when they couldn’t seem to convince him to use them. In the end, it was three years and out for the 7’1 center with the 7’9 wingspan who the Charlotte Bobcats had drafted 20th overall in 2008.

Ajinca seemed to have it all.  His length made it easy to block shots, swipe steals and grab rebounds. His smooth shooting stroke let him sink shots out past the three-point line with efficiency. However, Ajinca couldn’t put it all together and it became apparent that coaches wanted him to play in the paint where those obvious physical attributes should have given him an advantage on the offensive glass and made him a superior rim protector at the other end. Instead he showed a love for long range twos and threes.

These tendencies made Ajinca look soft and inconsistent. He was as frustrating a player to watch as there could be because he should have been able to do so much more.

Alexis Ajinca interview,

 

“I guess when you are young, you are still learning everything,” Ajinca told Pro Bball Report. ” Now it’s been seven years, so now I know what’s going on and what to expect. I am more aware of how to work hard and stay in shape than when I was younger and when I was in Toronto.”

Ajinca played in the French Pro League before he was drafted and he returned there after his brief stint in Toronto. He had a lot to learn about himself and how to be pro.

“I went back overseas after the lockout and the main focus was being consistent, energy and everything,” Ajinca said. That’s one thing I learned, to be consistent and be a leader and stay ready no matter what the case may be.

“Just stay focused because sometimes I’d lose my focus, maybe just stay too much relaxed and that’s a big change.

“Something young players have to learn is you may have been unstoppable for four games straight, but its only four games out of 82 games, so it’s nothing yet. You have to do the whole season like that.

“Nothing that you achieve is ever enough.”

When Ajinca returned to the NBA for the 2013-14 season with New Orleans, he stuck and last summer the team rewarded him with a four year $20 million contract.

Gone were the three-point attempts. Ajinca has only shot two three-balls since his return and his shooting percentages reflect the improved discipline. He has become a reliable reserve that rebounds at a high rate at both ends of the court.

At 27-years-old, Ajinca is still young for a big man and his game still has room to improve. It’s even possible he’ll get a chance to develop that three-point shot he loved during his first go-around in the NBA if he can stay disciplined enough to keep doing the things that got him back in the NBA to stay.

 

 

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.

 

 

 

 

NBA David Blatt

Cavs Claim To Be Tired In Toronto

It was a weary looking Cavs head coach David Blatt claiming that his players were tired after losing to the Raptors 103-99 in Toronto on Wednesday night. Now that’s not an excuse you hear every day.

Cavaliers Head coach David Blatt postgame audio:

 

“I don’t think it was the most physical game that we’ve played in,” Blatt said. “It was a hard played game.

“I thought we got tired for obvious reasons, very short-handed. I thought our guys played hard. I thought we ran out of gas.

“I thought fatigue played a big part of that, I really did.

“Maybe a little of both (mental and physical fatigue). We’ve played a lot of games where we seem to be at it every day or every other day. More so because we were short-handed, we did get a little physically tired.

“It’s not an excuse, just an observation.”

It’s not exactly a secret that NBA teams play on average every other day during the regular season. That’s just how often teams have to hit the hardwood in order to play an 82 game schedule in a little under 6 months.

The Cavaliers schedule really hasn’t been that onerous and they haven’t played in a back-to-back in over a week. In fact the Raptors have played more games than the Cavaliers to this point in the season and they just came back from a grueling five game west coast trip. Kyle Lowry was just happy to finally get home and not have not played the all-to-common stinker in the first game back after a long road trip.

Kyle Lowry

“I think it’s just good to be home,” Lowry said after the game. “Every time you come off a west coast road trip it’s a little bit harder to get that first game under your belt. We did a good job at keeping ourselves focused.”

A frustrated LeBron James wasn’t having any of these excuses either.

Cavs LeBron James

“It’s all mindset,” James said. “It comes from within. I’ve always had it. My upbringing had me like that. It’s either you got it or you don’t.”

James “had it” in this game. His Cavs were a +13 with him on the court, but in his 8 minutes on the bench, Cleveland was -17 points.

Don’t blame this game on fatigue. Don’t blame it on injuries either. Both teams only used 9 players and the Raptors starters played significantly more minutes than the Cavs starting unit. Led by Mo Williams 15 points, the Cavs bench outscored the Raptors reserves 25-18.

Both teams have been suffering through their share of injuries – not that anyone in the NBA cares. The Cavs were missing their starting center Timofey Mosgov and the Raptors were missing starter Jonas Valanciunas – once again, outside of their own teams, no one cares.

The real surprise in Coach Blatt’s postgame comments was that he made any excuses at all. The team that should have been whining about being tired was down the hall in the other locker room.

 

 

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.

 

 

 

 

Cavaliers Anderson Varejao

Cavs Anderson Varejao Still Has A Long Road Back From Injury

It’s is a very encouraging sign to see the 33-year-old Cavs big man Anderson Varejao on the court during preseason after rupturing his Achilles tendon last December. The injury had career-ending potential, but it’s ‘healed’ and Varejao is playing again. Although, he isn’t playing like his old self and he still has a long road back.

“I think (Varejao) did a great job rehabilitating,” head coach David Blatt said. “He really worked hard. Andy came to camp and he’s practiced very well. He has honestly shown us a lot more than I think we could have even expected at this point in terms of his activity level, in terms of his mobility, in terms of his play. I am pleasantly surprised how far along Andy is.

“We have tried to limit Andy’s minutes and he’ll play tonight, but I don’t think he will tomorrow just to stay consistent with how we’ve gone about working with Andy up to this point, but he has come a long long way and he’s in good shape.”

Blatt would like to be limiting Varejao’s minutes in any case. The big man is on the wrong side of 30 and should be deeper on the depth chart, however, with all the other injuries and other issues the Cavaliers are dealing with, Blatt needs to get whatever his veteran can give him.

Those that come back from an Achilles injury, like the Clippers Elton Brand who was injured at 28-years-old, can take a couple of years or longer before they really start to regain most of their old form. So, while Varejao can show his court awareness and skill in preseason, it shouldn’t come as a surprise that he doesn’t have that expected bounce in his step and he is not playing with his usual reckless abandon. It is a more measured and cautious Varejao running up and down the floor.

 
Anderson Varejao interview:

 

“It’s been 10 months (since the injury), but I am kind of surprised as well,” Varejao told Pro Bball Report.  “I am trying to take baby steps and go little by little because I know I had a pretty tough injury – just recovering, trying to stay in touch with the medical staff, stay in touch with the coaching staff, telling them how I am feeling so we don’t over do it, but actually I am feeling pretty good.

“You got that right (I’m being cautious). It’s been a long time since I’ve been playing basketball, since December last year. I am just trying to get back into it little by little. I don’t think a lot about my injury, but I don’t go as crazy as I usually do. Just trying to get back into it until I’m 100 percent.

“I asked Chauncey Billups and I asked (Jonas) Jerebko and they basically told me that it is going to take time for you to feel like 100 percent again. Sometimes you are going to be playing, but you are not there yet. It was good to talk to them because this is all new for me. I’ve had other injuries, but this one is by far the toughest one I’ve had.”

It’s a process to come back from an injury this serious and Varejao isn’t as young as he once was. Almost any injury has the potential to end a professional athlete’s career in their thirties, but if everyone is patient and the process isn’t rushed, the early signs are good. Besides, Varejao is having fun again. He wants to be out there and he still has something to give.

“It’s a process,” Varejao confirmed. “I just have to be careful and take baby steps, (but) I am having fun. I am having fun out there. It is good to be back out there with my teammates. Pretty soon it will be 100 percent and everything will go back to normal.”

 

 

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

 

 

 

MEM_Conley_Mike

Is The Grizzlies Mike Conley Still Being Underrated?

Mike Conley was the fourth overall pick of the 2007 NBA draft, so the Grizzlies and their fans had high expectations for the point guard out of Ohio State. However, Memphis got the fourth overall draft pick by winning just 22 games in 2006-07 and when they won just 22 games in Conley’s rookie season and only 24 the next year, there were rumblings that Conley wasn’t the savior they needed to lead the team. All that seems like a very long time ago now, but with the Grizzlies success over the past four years and this season’s unbelievable hot start, is Conley still being underrated even now?

 

 

“I always joke and say one day I’ll be rated and whenever that day is I’ll be a happy man,” Conley said. “I just do what’s right for the team and try to win and let everybody else talk after that.”

Maybe it’s the mid-teens scoring and steady 6 assists a game that throws the casual fan and the highlight reel conscious TV analysts off the trail, but the Grizzlies are more than a ‘Big Two’ of the 2012 All-Star and 2012-13 Defensive Player of the Year Marc Gasol and two-time All-Star Zach Randolph. Conley has lead his team in assists every year since his rookie season and he has been no worse than the Grizzlies third best scorer in each of the last four years. When people bother to stop and take a look at his game, Conley is one of the better defensive guards in the Association on one of the best defensive teams as well.

It didn’t happen overnight, Conley has worked hard on his craft and continues to bring something new back after the summer even into his eighth NBA season. This year Conley has been averaging 44.9 percent on 3.3 three-point attempts per game and that’s up from 36.1 percent last year.

“I work on my complete game every year,” Conley said. “My first few years in the league I tried to bring back something new to my game every season and as I got better and better, the more (my) confidence grew and the more I believed in myself that I could do pretty much anything. So every summer I go out there and say I can’t get worse, I got to get better at whatever it may be and I go to work every summer.”

Some of what has been working for Conley and the Grizzlies is continuity. Their ‘Big Three’ of Conley, Gasol and Randolph has been together since the 2008-09 season, so the connections are strong and the style of play has been consistent for a long time now. This summer Randolph even took the unusual step of taking his team option for this season and signing a two-year extension instead of becoming a free agent next July.

“Our continuity on and off the court is better than most teams,” Conley said. “You don’t see families the way we are. It’s a real family atmosphere around here. We have guys that have been through everything together and we have lost a bunch of games together and we’ve won a bunch of games. We’ve learned how to be successful in this league together and that’s something that not a lot of players get the opportunity to be a part of and we don’t take it for granted. We go out there and play for one-another and try to win.”

The Grizzlies’ defensive style of play, lack of flash and grind-it-out in under-100 points per game doesn’t make it easy for individual players to get noticed, so Conley might just have to live with being underrated in some quarters. He doesn’t have to worry about being underrated by his opponents though, anyone playing against Conley on the court knows and respects his game.

 

 

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.

 

 

 

Dallas Mavericks Media Day 2013-2014Vince Carter To Be Honored By Raptors‬

As part of the Toronto Raptors 20th Anniversary Season celebrations, the team will honor former All-Star and one-time franchise player Vince Carter after the first quarter of the game between the Raptors and Grizzlies.

 

 

 

NBA Atlanta Hawks Al Horford

Atlanta Hawks Need Al Horford To Be An All-Star To Win

Make no mistake, the Atlanta Hawks playoff hopes rest on the very broad shoulders of one Al Horford and the Horford that can take them back to the postseason is the player that has played at an All-Star level. Atlanta was a solid +.500 team with Horford in the lineup last year and an abysmal 22-31 without him, so Head Coach Mike Budenholzer is very glad to have him back on the court to start this season.

 

 

“It’s great to add a player like Al, he can impact the game in so many ways,” Budenholzer said. “Defensively, his versatility and activity can have a big impact and offensively, obviously he is a very good player.”

Unfortunately Horford is coming back from a pectoral tear that caused him to miss most of last season and severely restricted what he could work on during the summer and in preseason. By no means is Horford in NBA game-shape nor has he completely shaken off the rust of not playing. The Hawks are 2-3 to start the 2014-15 season and Horford’s play is up and down like a toilet seat.

“Conditioning is something that’s hard to get without playing,” Budenholzer said. “Throughout the course of the preseason we (tried) to progress his minutes each night and I think he is in a good place, but I don’t think it would be fair to say he’s coming off of a normal summer and a normal preseason. It is going to take him a little bit of time conditioning-wise.”

Horford has sandwiched two 20-point efforts in between three games where his offense wasn’t up to its usual level. In his most recent game against the Knicks, he shot 3-13 for 6 points to go with 6 rebounds, but that doesn’t mean Horford isn’t having a positive effect. Even as he shakes the rust off of his shooting stroke and regains his conditioning, other players are benefitting from his presence.

“Al is such a threat and he can do so many different things,” Budenholzer said. “He is a great midrange shooter, so everybody knows that if he’s open or has an opportunity, the defense has to honor or respect that. He is working to expand his range and he is just always a threat. He can go up and get the ball above the rim. He can score on a catch-and-go. He is just so versatile. Defense, if they load up to other people or are more concerned about the shooters, then he is just one more threat that we can add to our group.”

The biggest beneficiary appears to be Kyle Korver. Last year Korver shot over 50 percent from three-point range on over 6 attempts per game while Horford was healthy, but that dropped off to 45 percent on 5.2 attempts after Horford was injured. The Hawks floor spacers need Horford to keep defenders off the three-point line as badly as Horford needs players like Korver to spread the court.

This season Korver has ramped it up another notch shooting 61.3 percent on 6.2 three-point attempts per game to further emphasize what Horford does for his team even when he’s not back to his old All-Star level.

“Al has such a presence and such a poise at all times and everybody is excited,” Budenholzer said. “I think he can calm us when times are hard. He is a good balance for me. He is a good balance for the whole group. When he speaks, people listen, so his leadership is invaluable.”

Horford’s leadership is invaluable to the Hawks, but Atlanta will need more than just his leadership to be a +.500 playoff bound team this season. They need him to find that All-Star form and those All-Star statistics he had prior to his injuries.

It could take all of November before Horford fully finds his regular season form, after all, he barely played during preseason. However, this team has shown they can win with him and they already look a lot better they did without him.

 

 

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.

 

 

Lowry Irving Wall RosePredicting The NBA Eastern Conference 2014-15 Regular Season

7. Atlanta Hawks – Projected 43-39, last season 38-44

 

 

craig hodges

Phil Jackson Rebuilding The New York Knicks From The Ground Up

Phil Jackson came to an historic New York Knicks franchise in desperate need of culture change and change has been coming, not just in management, coaching and player personnel, but everywhere. Fans may be waiting to see what Jackson can do with salary cap space next summer, but Jackson hasn’t been waiting to start the rebuild from the ground up and the ground is in Westchester County with the Knicks brand new D-League Affiliate.

The Westchester Knicks are being purpose-built to help the entire organization develop a winning culture. Alan Houston has been installed as the general manager. An experienced development league head coach hired in Kevin Whitted and a former Jackson player and assistant coach Craig Hodges added to assist Whitted.

A 10-year NBA veteran, Hodges was a 3x NBA three-point shooting contest winner, a 2x NBA champion with the Bulls under Jackson as a player and a 2x NBA champion with the Lakers under Jackson as an assistant coach.

Pro Bball Report caught up with Hodges after he had being working out players with the Westchester Knicks for a couple of weeks to talk about the innovative direction the Knicks were taking in the inaugural season of their new D-League club.

 

 

“(I am) organizing my mind to get these guys’ games to the next level,” Hodges said. “That’s the key.

“They are affiliated with the Knicks. This is going to be one of the first operations that are actually going to be where the (NBA) team is actually going to have somewhat of a hands-on look at what’s going on with their developmental team and I think it is going to be a model that other teams try to emulate – especially if we have the success that we are capable of having.

“More teams are going to try to hold onto a couple of guys that they think have promise, (like) draft picks that they don’t have room for because of guaranteed money. Also, it will be a proving ground for guys that just need some extra work and as different teams or more teams consider it at that level, I think it can be a successful run for everybody involved.

“Teams are seeing a need for development on a level where (players) are not quite on the NBA level. They have a lot of good players that are basically a couple of months or a year away. It only behooves ownership to go ahead and put that time in, put in the coaching and experience necessary for players to get an opportunity to improve and hopefully get to that next level. It is just a matter of time until more teams adopt this program that the Knicks have unfolded for this season.

“I feel like it’s a fun time. It is a good time to be a player. There are a lot of resources to be made. At the same time from the ownership end, it is a good time to look at things (in) a different light.

“Some guys are two or three years away and don’t want to go overseas, so I think there should be an opportunity for guys to get a chance to work on their craft here and at the same time it would be a situation where they can learn the business, they can learn the nuances of being a professional and how to carry yourself. It is only a matter of time until somebody figures out the right model and hopefully it will be the Knicks that do it.

“The Knicks have seen that they are capable of putting (in) the resources to make (players) better and it can honestly be the model for the rest of the league.”

The idea of the Westchester Knicks becoming a Knicks Affiliate where players are developed for the “big” club and learn the culture management wants instilled is a concept the NBA has struggled with, but is way past due for becoming standard practice around the league. Jackson’s hands are somewhat tied with what he can do in New York this year, however, building a winning culture and a source of players for the Knicks’ future was something he could do right away in Westchester.

 

 

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.

 

 

Chicago Bulls Media Day

Is Chicago Bulls Kirk Hinrich Running Out Of Shoot-Arounds?

At 33-years-old and about to play in his 12th NBA season, Chicago Bulls veteran Kirk Hinrich is still lacing up the sneakers and leaving everything out there on the court every night.  He’s still having fun – most of the time, but he also knows this isn’t going to last forever and perhaps it shouldn’t come as a surprise that a point guard is doing it for teammates.

Over the summer Hinrich re-upped for two more years and $5.6 million and his reasons for signing with the Bulls as a free agent two years ago are just as valid today.  Pro Bball Report gained some insight into the Bulls reliable veteran after the All-Star break in February in this exclusive interview.

“It is fun,” Hinrich admitted.  “The games and being around the guys, I think that’s what when you look back on it you are really going to miss – the camaraderie, the competing with a group of guys you respect.  Some things are not as fun as they used to be.  We joke sometimes about shoot-arounds.  I don’t know how many more shoot-arounds I have in me, but anytime I feel like I don’t want to do it or I don’t want to be here today, I just go back to the thing that the guys, we all depend on each other and we need to be into it.”

The Bulls are a veteran team.  A team that was built to win last year and now and except for the injuries, Chicago was going to be a contender.  It was the possibility of winning at the end of his career that drew Hinrich back to Chicago in 2012 and that is still true now.

“Coming back and signing here, I thought we had a really good chance to win and that was the sole reason,” Hinrich said.  “Obviously I had been here before, I was familiar with a lot of things, my home was in Chicago, but the main reason I came back was because I thought we had a really good chance to win.”

However, without Derrick Rose, the opportunity to compete for a championship was lost, but that didn’t mean Hinrich and the other veterans on the Bulls were not going to try.  There is still a lot of fight and pride in this group.

“We’ve had some injuries, but that doesn’t mean we are going to throw the season away,” Hinrich said.  “For me, late in my career I feel like I want to keep it going.  I love this game I have played for so long, I want to continue to be part of something I can be proud of when I look back on it.

“The character of our guys, there is a lot of pride in our locker room. Guys want to do well, they want the team to do well and we try to do the things we have to do to do that.”

It is a testament to the character of the players and coaches in Chicago that the Bulls were a second round playoff team in 2013 and were in the playoffs last year.

“It’s just taking it upon themselves to do what they have to do – doing their job,” Hinrich explained.  “It takes 5 guys.  We know we have to compete at a very high level – defend very well, win the rebounding battle, play low turnover basketball and share the ball.  Outside of game-planning for teams, that’s our solution.”

Hinrich is playing for pride as much as anything else these days.  He doesn’t want to look back at his career with regrets.  No one can know how many shoot-arounds they have left in them.

“When I am not feeling it so much, that is what I rely on, this thing isn’t going to be forever,” Hinrich said.  “I want to give it all I have.  That is what I fall back on individually to keep it going.”

Beware of the old bull.  They can always put up one last good fight.  It doesn’t sound like Hinrich has run out of shoot-arounds just yet.

 

 

 

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.

 

 

Lowry Irving Wall RosePredicting The NBA Eastern Conference 2014-15 Regular Season standings

 

 

Ujiri & Lowry holding ballCan the Toronto #Raptors star point guard Kyle Lowry earn a 2015 NBA All-Star berth?

 

 

 

BOS Stevens and Anthony

Celtics Look To Canadian Joel Anthony As A Mentor

The Boston Celtics roster includes three Canadians and two of the nine players from the greater Toronto area on NBA preseason rosters including the veteran Joel Anthony (Montreal), sophomore Kelly Olynyk (Toronto) and the rookie Dwight Powell (Toronto). It’s still early in this year’s evaluation process, but Head Coach Brad Stevens has something positive to say about each his Canadian players and singles out Anthony for his leadership and willingness to help mentor the younger players.

 

 

“You know what, they’ve been good,” Stevens said. “All three are great guys. They are easy guys to coach.

“Joel (Anthony) is a veteran that’s gone from starting on a runner-up team to not seeing much action on a championship team, being traded and seeing spot action here. He has been nothing but a great leader, a veteran, a guy that you want around.

“Dwight (Powell) has a bright future. He is a bright kid and a good player.

“Kelly (Olynyk) is a big part of what we are doing. I think Kelly is a guy that may not fit the typical four, he may not fit the typical five, but he is a basketball player and he is going to draw a lot of attention because of his skill-sets.”

Stevens emphasizes the need for Anthony to fill that mentorship role on the Celtics.

“He has to, he has to,” Stevens said. “I think that he has embraced that (mentorship role) all the way through. You notice last year when we went back to Miami four or five days after he got traded how much the Miami team and organization respected and liked him. You could tell that from the way he was approached. They did a little thing honoring him at the end of the first quarter and that doesn’t happen with everybody and I think that he is a guy that you like to have around the locker room. He is a really good defender and I think he fits in well with what we are trying to do as long as we have the four skilled guys around him.”

This isn’t Anthony’s first kick at the can helping out a young team. He has been doing the same thing in the summers with the Canadian National team for a while now, so he is well suited to the task.

Stevens has a training camp roster loaded with rookies and sophomores, but he only has two players over 30-years-old. You can’t put all of the mentorship responsibilities on the coaching staff, the Celtics need a couple of older heads to help the young guys through a long NBA season.
 

 
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.

 

 

Caboclo shooting

Raptors Bruno Caboclo Is Not 2 Years Away From 2 Years Away

When a team drafts a virtual unknown 18-year-old from Brazil, comments like Bruno Caboclo is two years away from being two years away shouldn’t come as a surprise. That’s when the tall lanky forward would be a 22-year-old graduating from college and about the age an NBA prospect would generally be expected to have started figuring things out. However, the Raptors “hid” Caboclo and worked out an arrangement so he wouldn’t “blow up” while he was with Pinheiros Sky, so surprises shouldn’t be unexpected.

Caboclo got into his first NBA preseason game against the Kings in Sacramento and he didn’t look like he was two years away from being two years away.

With Terrence Ross sidelined with a sore knee, Head Coach Dwane Casey started the veteran Landry Fields, but turned to Caboclo for 6 minutes in the second quarter with the starting unit. Caboclo had a stat line of all zeros and a personal foul, but the Raptors had made up a 6 point deficit against the Kings starting unit by the time Caboclo was substituted out. It’s only preseason, but it’s still a good sign when a rookie gets inserted with the starters and doesn’t screw things up.

Caboclo also played the final 8:45 of the fourth quarter with a collection of second and third unit players against a unit of mostly Kings reserves and went 2-2 from the field for 6 points and 2 rebounds. He finished +8 in a game the Raptors lost 113-106.

The first evidence Caboclo might not be that far away from being NBA ready came in the brief glimpses provided during media availability in practice. It was still hard to know just what the Raptors had acquired with their 20th draft pick besides a very raw prospect with potential. He looked good playing in a gym on his own, but that isn’t usually a very good indication of what you’ve got.

However, at NBA Summer League, Caboclo scored between 10 and 12 points in each of his 5 games and shot 52.9 percent from two-point range and 30.8 percent from beyond the three-point arc. Add in 3 boards and 1.2 steals per game and Caboclo looked like the typical first round draft pick in his first trip to NBA Summer League.

Raptors Director of Scouting Dan Tolzman must have done something right to hide this kid from the rest of the NBA.

“It was extremely difficult in today’s day and age,” Tolzman told Pro Bball Report. “It was just a matter of – trying to think of the best way to say it – it’s not like it was a secret or anything. We were onto (Caboclo) early enough and got to him before a lot of the other scouts got to see him and because of that we were able to just kind of quietly work with the team he was with (Pinheiros Sky) and his agent to keep him down on the back burner so he didn’t do anything crazy to blow up and (allow) every other (NBA) team to get onto him as well. We kept him a secret, but at the same time he was still out in the open.”

Casey wants to bring Caboclo along slowly and there has been plenty of talk about sending him to the NBA D-League to get playing time once the season starts. However, Caboclo is showing signs of being sneaky good and President and General Manager, Basketball Operations Masai Ujiri truly believes that the best way to find out what you’ve got in a young player is to throw him into game action and see.

Caboclo shouldn’t be expected to crack the rotation early in the season, but the kid Tolzman didn’t want to blow up in Brazil might be ready to play in the NBA on his own schedule and that could come a lot earlier than anyone anticipated.

 

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.

 

 

Dan TolzmanHeads Could Roll Over Raptors First Round Draft Pick

Imagine you are the Head Scout for an NBA team and you are sitting in your “War Room” during the Draft and some team takes a player in the first round that isn’t on your big board or even in the notes you’ve prepared about this year’s prospects.

 

 

NBA Boston Celtics Jared Sullinger

Jared Sullinger On Being Comfortable With Celtics (audio)

The Celtics big man Jared Sullinger talks about becoming confident and comfortable in his sophomore season in Boston.

 

 

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.

 

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Celtics Jared Sullinger Comfortable And Confident In Boston
A lot of the rational for the Celtics moves last summer were to get opportunities for their young players so they could develop. Allow potential young stars like Sullinger to get comfortable in a role and gain the confidence necessary to become successful.