The Toronto Raptors sent rookie Bruno Caboclo to Fort Wayne to get some badly needed playing time, but after three games with the Mad Ants, they have to be wondering if it wasn’t just a waste of time?
Caboclo did get 20 minutes off the bench in his first appearance with the Mad Ants on Saturday, so things were looking pretty good for the rookie off the start, but he only played 4.5 minutes on Sunday in his second game.
The Mad Ants played again on Tuesday night at the Allen County War Memorial Coliseum in Fort Wayne against the Oklahoma City Blue and went to overtime, but Caboclo barely saw the floor after half as the Mad Ants are an independent NBA D-League team and their first priority is to win games for the sparse home crowd.
Caboclo played 9.5 minutes in the first half going 0-3 for 0 points, 1 rebound, 1 personal foul and 1 block. The quick hook in the third and fourth quarters came when all Caboclo was able to contribute was another missed shot and a foul.
A stint of 38 minutes over 3 games isn’t what anyone would hope for when sending a first round draft pick to the D-League and only serves to emphasize just how important controlling your own minor league team has suddenly become in the NBA. The playing time Caboclo is getting helps and is a lot more than he could possibly get with the Raptors, but it is considerably less than what the rookie could have received if he was playing for a team affiliated with Toronto alone.
Further compounding the 19-year-old rookie’s D-League experience is his slowly improving English. In Toronto Caboclo has fellow Brazilian Lucas Nogueira to talk to and bail him out when language difficulties arise. In Fort Wayne, he’ll have to figure out why the coach he doesn’t know is yelling at him about the plays he isn’t familiar with.
The Mad Ants play the Blue again on New Year’s Day. Maybe Caboclo will get a little more burn then.
Caboclo was limited in the second half due to foul trouble. He picked up four fouls in the opening 45 seconds of the fourth quarter. He appeared lost at times on both ends of the court against the Energy, settling for questionable shots and picking up reckless fouls.
Fields has the highest salary of any player on the Raptors who isn’t part of the regular rotation and that big expiring contract could make him a key piece in any trade President and General Manager, Basketball Operations Masai Ujiri might make.