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.
Here’s Bruno’s impressive recovery and block on Casspi: https://t.co/Ut9z4RnykO
— Josh Lewenberg (@JLew1050) October 8, 2014
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.
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.