The die is cast with Bruno Caboclo. He’s a Toronto Raptor, but is not ready to suit up for real games. If I’m writing the guide on how to turn a raw 18-year-old (who doesn’t speak English) into a contributing member of our team, here’s what you’d see.
- Get him under the wings of team veterans like DeMar DeRozan immediately [Check - he's already in Los Angeles with DD and Amir Johnson.]
- Give him a boatload of minutes in the Las Vegas Summer League. When he’s not playing, he’s in the weight room. Remind him constantly: “Bruno, this is not a vacation. The bright lights and other temptations of Lost Wages are not your friend.”
- Speak English, all the time. He needs a ceaseless bath in the language.
- Allow him one Brazilian contact – a friend, a parent – who will be close at hand.
- Give him a short vacation, then get him to training camp early. Work his tail off. [Check - by all accounts, Bruno is a gym rat.]
- Play him a ton in pre-season. Guys like DD, Amir, even younger players like Terrence Ross and Jonas Valanciunas, know how to get ready for the real games. They don’t need to run the risk of injury.
- Announce he’s made the team, play him in spots during the first 10 games of the season, then send him down to the D-League.
“How are you gonna keep ‘em down on the farm/after they’ve seen Par-ee?” popular post-Great War song, c.1919 – If we want Bruno to bust his hump, the best way is to show him the NBA’s excitement, then give him a few months of long bus rides to places like Bakersfield, CA, Tulsa OK, and Reno NV. Once he’s seen how the other half lives (travel on chartered jets; stay at the best hotels in the hottest cities), then had it taken away, he’s going to do everything he can to return.
All of this planning and implementing will have little or no bearing on the Raptors this season, barring a catastrophic string of injuries. Bruno isn’t ready, and won’t be ready, to help the big team. Despite all our technological advances, it still takes nine months to produce a baby, and that can’t be rushed. Neither should our latest project player.