There are not many players being drafted as 18-year-olds any more, but the Toronto Raptors Amir Johnson remembers his experience of nine years ago when he played his entire rookie season that young and he’ll have Bruno Caboclo’s back as the Raptors newest very young rookie finds his way in the NBA.
Just turned 27-years-old himself, Johnson has only recently begun to accept that heading into his 10th NBA season he is a veteran with a lot of knowledge and experience to pass along.
“Ten years in, I should be (a veteran),” Johnson said. “I definitely have a lot of say-so, especially for the younger guys – a lot of experience to tell them right from wrong. Definitely, I feel like a vet, at the same time I still feel young and energized.”
The young guy in the most need of veteran help this season is Caboclo and Johnson didn’t need much prodding to start talking about a kid who should remind Johnson of himself as a rookie.
“(We have) a very athletic and good young guy which is Bruno (Caboclo),” Johnson said. “The kid works hard. (He has) a 7’7 wingspan which is unbelievable. I think he’ll be a good fit for us and we can teach him a lot of stuff. The first thing we can teach him is English.”
The Pistons were loaded with veteran players when Johnson was on the team (2005-09) and they were a big influence his early development. If Johnson can pass on what he learned then, Caboclo really is in very good hands.
“It was huge,” Johnson said. “They pretty much carried the first three years of my career, but for me it was a great experience and I can lead (Caboclo) in the same direction and tell him what I went through in my experiences when I was 18 in the NBA so he is in good hands.
“I had guys on the team that were in their 30s – older guys – but they were still agile, athletic and you are wondering how you guys stay so in shape and they showed me the ropes of what I needed to do, what to eat or what to train and it was a great experience. I feel that I can show Bruno the same stuff I did. If he wants to get bigger or leaner or whatever, then I can tell him the right stuff to do.”
The Raptors developed a family-type atmosphere last season and that is something they want to maintain heading into this season. As Caboclo just turned 19-years-old and is playing away from the comfort and support of his family in Brazil for the first time, he’ll need the Raptors to become his family away from home. As Johnson said, ‘he’s in good hands.’
“I think we are still a young team. We still have growing to do as a team,” Casey said. “Our goal is to win the division no matter what it takes.”
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.
The Raptors surprise first round draft pick Bruno Caboclo was at the Air Canada Centre in Toronto on Saturday and Pro Ball Report caught up with NBA TV Canada’s ‘The Hangout’ Host Akil Augustine to get his first impressions of the Raptors newest rookie after watching Caboclo workout and answer questions from the media.