It has been a tough rookie season for the Toronto Raptors Bruno Caboclo in terms of playing time. The season is already more than half over and the 19-year-old has only played a total of 16 minutes in the NBA. Opportunities have been almost nonexistent and even his brief trip to the Mad Ants of the NBA D-league didn’t help much. Head Coach Dwane Casey is focused on players further along in their development and winning as many games as possible for his Eastern Conference second place team. For now at least, Caboclo has no real shot at cracking the Raptors rotation this season.
“(Caboclo) is working. He is working individually every day,” Casey said. “He is growing. I wish there were situations where we could get him in games, but he hasn’t. (He’ll) probably spend some time in the D-League in the future just to get some games under his belt. The kid comes back here at nighttime, works his behind off after practice, before practice, before games, late at night, but until he gets in and gets that game competition (that’s) when he is going to be able to grow. I wish we could do it for him. I wish we had more opportunities for him. If we are blowing somebody out, hopefully we’ll get him an opportunity, but the games have been so close and we got so many guys in front of him right now, it is very difficult to get him in.”
It can be particularly difficult to get Caboclo into an NBA game for Casey as the rookie isn’t usually one of the 13 players activated for a game unless the Raptors have injuries. So, for now at least, Caboclo’s development will remain mostly restricted to individual workouts and practicing with the other Raptors who are not part of the rotation.
“I shoot a lot and come (to the practice gym) two times per day and work a lot,” Caboclo told Pro Bball Report. “I don’t practice, I don’t work with the group. I only watch and I work after practice. (Coach) says keep going hard, your time (will) come.”
However, Caboclo is a long ways down the Raptors depth chart and even the opportunities in the D-League are suspect. Toronto doesn’t have their own D-League affiliate and shares Fort Wayne with the 13 other NBA teams in a similar situation.
When he was briefly assigned to the Mad Ants in December, Caboclo played 20, 5 and 14 minutes in his first three games and was a DNP-CD just before being recalled to Toronto. The reality of the Mad Ants is there are too many NBA teams with players to send down and not enough opportunities to play. It isn’t going to be easy to find the Raptors young prospect playing time here either.
Through it all, Caboclo has remained a happy teenager and his family’s recent visit to Toronto definitely boosted his spirits. However, opportunities to showcase what he has been learning in practice will remain very limited this season. It is starting to look like the NBA Summer League is going to be Caboclo’s next real chance to play meaningful minutes in game competition before next season.
It was a short and somewhat disappointing stay in Fort Wayne for Bruno Caboclo as the Toronto Raptors rookie didn’t see a lot of playing time after his first game with the Mad Ants and he wasn’t very productive when he did get on the court.
The Toronto Raptors knew they were getting a very raw basketball talent in Brazilian Bruno Caboclo. The teenager had only just barely started playing professionally in Brazil when they first spotted him and had virtually no exposure outside of his own Country. English was going to be as big a barrier for Caboclo initially as learning basketball skills and maybe bigger.