NBA draft prognostication has reached a level of such saturation that it's rare for any player to be selected without pundits having some informed take on his abilities and potential career path. Credit the Toronto Raptors, then, for using their first-round pick to take a player who sent virtually everyone searching for any information they could find.
With the 20th pick in Thursday's draft, the Raptors selected Brazilian forward Bruno Caboclo, a 6-foot-9 forward who was the youngest player available in the draft (he doesn't turn 19 years old until September). It's safe to say that no one anticipated the choice. According to Yahoo Sports' own Adrian Wojnarowski, Caboclo worked out for no teams during the predraft process. For that matter, the exhaustive scouting source DraftExpress.com ranked him as just the 18th-best international prospect among players born in 1995 and had just a single video to tell fans about his talents.
ESPN's international prospect evaluator Fran Fraschilla, tasked with explaining Caboclo's value, did the young man no favors by calling him "the Brazilian Kevin Durant" before noting that he really doesn't know how to play basketball yet. To make matters worse, Fraschilla also said that Bruno is "two years away from being two years away, and then we'll see," which makes him sound more like the Brazilian Anthony Randolph than the reigning NBA MVP:
Media members covering the Raptors, searching for anything they could impart to the rabid fan base of the East's third-best regular-season team in 2013-14, came up with very little:
Raptors media seem totally baffled about the Brazilian guy.
— Dan Devine (@YourManDevine) June 27, 2014
Brazilian basketball obsessives didn't have much to say, either:
— Rafael Uehara (@rafael_uehara) June 27, 2014
Not surprisingly, the jokes came fast and furious on social media, with several draft observers comparing Caboclo to infamous Minnesota Timberwolves second-round pick Tanguy Ngombo, who was initially erroneously known as "Targuy" and turned out to have been too old to have been eligible for the draft in the first place. Caboclo doesn't figure to be that controversial, if only because he doesn't seem to have falsified his age. On the other hand, he was selected with the 20th pick at a time when several players who figure to contribute something within the next few years were on the board. It would seem that Toronto at least could have traded down to get its preferred player.
Perhaps Raptors GM Masai Ujiri has World Cup fever, or maybe he forgot to change his auto-draft settings before stepping out for a bite to eat:
Toronto just learned the hard way to always uncheck “autopick if idle."
— Dan Rubenstein (@DanRubenstein) June 27, 2014
All we know, really, is what we see in the few highlight videos available on YouTube. Here's one, if you want to judge a guy's potential from a few minutes of grainy footage:
Only time will tell if the Raptors had shocking foresight or made a huge mistake. They'll have a few years to judge Caboclo overseas before deciding if he's worth a roster spot. The rest of us will have to hope we can learn more — or just anything — about him before that time comes.
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