2014 NBA Draft: Toronto Raptors select...wait, what! Bruno who?

Toronto Raptors GM Masai Ujiri took a giant swing for the fences last night at the NBA Draft. With the #20 pick, the Raptors selected Bruno Caboclo, an 18-year-old Brazilian forward. Hands up, all of you who saw this pick coming. That would be….nobody.

The NBA Draft seems more and more like cradle-robbing. Bruno isn’t old enough to buy a drink in his NBA city; nor does he appear physically ready. At 6’9″ and a mere 200 lbs., he’s got a lot of bulking up and filling out to do before he’s ready to go toe to toe with the big dogs. Masai said in the press conference Bruno will be on the roster, but I’ll wager all the money in my wallet he won’t breaking camp with the big team. He’s a long-term project, and will need several years of development perhaps in Europe or the D-League. He’s got an enormous wingspan, which is essential in the modern game.

Masai said the plan was to take Caboclo in the second round, but was fearful of losing him. Apparently there were whispers of other teams’ interest, so rather than risk disappointment, Caboclo became the last-second choice. Tyler Ennis had been snatched away with the 18th pick  by Phoenix, and I suspect he was about the fifth guy Masai had on his board – all of them gone. Bruno was Last Man Standing.

I’m no position to comment on whether Bruno was the best player remaining; I’d never heard of him until Commissioner Adam Silver called his name. Masai certainly doesn’t shy away from gutsy decisions. Whether Caboclo can improve enough to muscle his way into the NBA is impossible to guess. He may flame out and become the answer to a trivia question; he may live up to the description of him as “Brazil’s Kevin Durant“, or he may in time become a useful member of the Toronto Raptors. Whatever happens, and we won’t know for years, his selection livened up an otherwise “chalk” draft.

What do you think, Rapture Nation? Leave us a Comment please.


Tags: Toronto Raptors

  • Trevor LeSueur

    When I heard the pick I laughed hysterically and was just in awe. I did not overreact like most raps fan and let it ruin my night cause I trust every move Masai makes and I don’t know if anyone knows international ball more than him (especially in the southern countries).

    Caboclo has a lot of potential and upside as we all have learned. Yeah it might take him a few years to become a polished pro but if people just be patient, we could have a very unique player on our hands. Brazilians Kevin Durant is somewhat laughable but someone I could see him being like is Nicolas Batum.

    One thing that makes me happy about this pick and the 37th is that we now may know the destiny of Vasquez and Lowry in that they will be staying unless some sign and trade happens. Furthermore, with taking a prospect that will take a couple years to develop, the Raps may plan on being very aggressive during free agency going after someone like Ariza and a big.

    Masai has a plan and like he said last year in his all star game interview for Toronto 2016, that’s where he thinks the team should be peaking. Obviously he plans on Caboclo being a big part of the teams success in the future. And picking him 20th shows a certain kind of commitment the team has towards him.

    • Newmarket_Brian

      Hi Trevor:
      I think your Nicolas Batum comparison is spot-on.
      I’m going out on a limb here, but I’ll suggest that Masai’s willingness to draft a project player is something he learned from the under-rated Bryan Colangelo. Word of the day: patience.
      I’m going to have more to say about this pick in a post tomorrow.
      Thanks for commenting.

  • Rudra Rishy-Maharaj

    I’m shaking my head, but Masai has much more knowledge and credibility than I do. What I don’t understand is they were looking at Ennis, a point guard, but passed on Shabazz Napier, another point guard. I saw him play in Buffalo at the NCAA tournament and was impressive. Oh well, in Masai we trust.

    • Newmarket_Brian

      Hi Rudra:
      Yes, indeed – passing on Napier may turn out to be a giant mistake.
      “in Masai we trust” – you said it. Whether Bruno becomes a great player, or never steps on the floor in an NBA game, it was a gutsy pick.
      Thanks for stopping by.

  • Dinos Charitopoulos

    When you have the 20th pick, you know that the possibilities to get a superstar from the next day are rare to none. You mostly get a bench player, that you believe it would be improved in the long run. This is probably Masai’s thoughts, picking an unknown player. Time will show if he did good or wrong…
    The resume from yesterday is that the team needs to improve ASAP, via free agency or trades…and just after the draft night (even before that) we’ve heard so many rumors including Salmons going to Memphis and Kyle going to Miami…This is going to be a long summer, where smart moves must be made in order to see a better team next season. These kind of moves didn’t start yesterday.

    • Newmarket_Brian

      Hi Dinos:
      I think you’re right – this is going to be a crazy summer, and we need to hope our GM keeps his head and doesn’t over-react to what other teams are doing.

  • AM

    I have no issue with the pick. Masai was in scouting before and after watching some of the videos of Coboclo, I can see why there’s interest. Only 200lbs at 6’9?! Never mind the basketball skills, but physically alone, that’s a lot of work to do before he can look to compete with NBA players. The raps are not in the position of drafting the next cornerstone of the franchise, simply adding pieces. If he can develop, he could be a nice addition. I like the comparison of Batum from one of the comments. Since they picked up a player that will need some time to develop, there will be some pressure in free agency/trades to bring in help for the coming season.

    • Newmarket_Brian

      Hi AM:
      Bruno seems hungry in every sense of the word. He’s highly motivated to succeed, having barely emerged from poverty.
      I agree with you about getting help for the big team, but the free agents we like all want to return. Assuming Masai can make the return of Kyle, 2Pat, Amir & Greivis happen, we should be fine with letting Bruno mature at a lower level for several years. As you note, he’s not remotely close to being physically ready to join the NBA.
      Thanks for commenting.

  • Tom Shinn

    In reading as much as I can find on our newest youngster, one thing that really stuck out to me is that apparently, he’s only been playing basketball since he was THIRTEEN YEARS OLD!

    It’s funny, there was lots of talk about Joel Embiid (before injury), and the fact of HIS only playing basketball for a few years – and he was practically a lock to go #1. However, Embiid had the luxury of going to a top shelf college program, with elite coaching, facilities, exposure, etc. What’s to say that if our rail thin prospect had all those things at his disposal – or even just a few cheeseburgers – that he wouldn’t have been talked about much more than he previously was?

    The truth of the matter is that in todays world, social media, information and thus “hype” are what drives the masses. It’s a blessing and a curse really. In the good sense, it brings people a lot closer to the game. You can really get a sense for players. Not just their highlights, but also who they are as people. Their personalities. Their strengths and their weaknesses. You almost feel like you know them in a way. The bad is that people are very quick to judge or be scared of what they don’t know. It’s like that in a lot of things in the world.

    I don’t know if it’s true that the Spurs were in line to grab this kid.

    What I do know, is that few people thought Tony Parker (taken at #28) was anything much when he was drafted. Same goes for Manu at #57 overall!!

    In general, the list of overseas guys people no one thought much about is pretty long. Not all have succeeded, of course. For every Manute Bol (31st), Mehmet Okur (37th), or Toni Kukoc (29th) – there are hundred or a thousand picks who didn’t make it.

    Personally, I’d rather take a gamble on someone no one knows and who hasn’t even begun to scratch the surface of their potential, than a known commodity that has a limited ceiling.

    And lets be honest – THAT WINGSPAN!!!

    • Newmarket_Brian

      Hi Tom:
      In several of my pre-draft posts, I tried to point out that the chances of getting even a rotation player with the #20 pick aren’t good. Masai has tried to hit a home run with the selection of Bruno. I say – Why not?
      I appreciate your thoughtful comment.
      Thanks for stopping by. I think this is your first comment (?), but I hope not your last.

      • Tom Shinn

        Thanks Brian! I appreciate the kind words. Will definitely comment again. Thanks for the great Raptors site!

        • Newmarket_Brian

          I’m glad you enjoy our site. We’re trying to make it better every day – the best is yet to come (like the team we cover!)