In recent times, few NBA draft picks are more confusing than the Toronto Raptors selection of Bruno Caboclo, a relatively unknown (at the time) Brazilian small forward with the 20th pick in the 2014 draft. It was considered a gigantic stretch at the time, and Bruno’s contributions to the Raptors’ organization thus far have done little to justify the move by Raptors’ General Manager Masai Ujiri.
At the time of the pick, while being a stretch, you could at least see where Ujiri was coming from. Caboclo didn’t get the “Brazilian Kevin Durant” nickname for nothing. I mean, yeah, at the time the KD comparisons sorta-kinda made sense. Both are wiry, athletic and over-sized for the small forward position. Unfortunately for Raptors fans, that’s where the comparisons come to a halt. Bruno’s 6-foot-9 frame, grouped with his athleticism and raw potential, allowed for the blueprint of a potential NBA star. However, above anything else, Bruno was seen as the ultimate long-term project. “2 years away from being 2 years away” is the infamous line that every Raptors fan remembers hearing while watching that draft 3 years ago.
The Sad Truth
Unfortunately, it doesn’t look like Bruno is anywhere close to being what Ujiri once envisioned him to be. He has played in just 23 games for the Raptors in the last three seasons. He has spent most of his time in the NBA G-League with the Raptors 905. His time with the Raptors, while certainly not often, has not been impressive. Bruno’s career averages with the Raptors are a measly one point and one rebound. Albeit, on a small sample size of minutes, Caboclo has averaged 4.6 minutes per game throughout his career. That begs the question of whether or not the Raptors should sever ties with Bruno and use his roster spot for another prospect, or continue to see if he will fulfill this raw potential that Ujiri saw in him.
Let’s Say This Hurts a Bit
Not to add salt to the wound, but the Bruno pick stings a considerable amount more when we consider who was available after he was taken in the same draft. Some notable players include Rodney Hood, Clint Capela, Nikola Jokic and Jordan Clarkson. Landing any of these players would’ve been a welcome addition to the current Raptors roster. Clint Capela or Nikola Jokic sting especially hard. If Caboclo was taken as a late 2nd round pick, the general animosity towards him and the pick itself would be borderline non-existent.
At the end of the day, the first round pick of Bruno Caboclo looks to be like one of the rare whiffs by Masai Ujiri. Masai’s Raptors’ tenure has been impressive. He turned a team stuck in eternal mediocrity to an Eastern Conference powerhouse through trades, free agency and the draft. With that being said, perhaps it’s time to move on from Bruno. Maybe, we should give him his final year of “being away” to prove all the doubters wrong. With all of this on the table, this upcoming season will be most likely Caboclo’s last chance to impress head coach Dwayne Casey, Masai Ujiri, his Raptors teammates, and Raptors fans.
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