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.
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