It was a surprise to everyone, it seems, except Ujiri. The Raptors made a push to acquire Tyler Ennis, the Brampton-via-Syracuse point guard who ultimately went 18th to Phoenix. The price to obtain him from Phoenix, or a pick before that one, ended up being too high. Enter Caboclo. “It’s so hard to trade to get picks. When you start to hear a guy could be gone at certain places — we started to hear [Caboclo might be picked] late in the first round]. Sometimes it gets frustrating,” Ujiri said. “You don’t get the picks that you want, and you lose a guy. That happened to us earlier. We felt, OK, [Caboclo] is second on our board.” Prospects who the Raptors were seemingly high on, such as UCLA forward Kyle Anderson and Swiss big man Clint Capela — players who had come to Toronto to work out in the weeks leading up to the draft — were still on the board. Last year, Ujiri was enamoured with Giannis Antetokounmpo, a similarly rangy, athletic swingman. However, Ujiri could not find a trade that would allow them to take the kid who would become known as the “Greek Freak” in his rookie season in Milwaukee. So, Ujiri gets the benefit of the doubt, but only for a little while.
Sometimes you have to be bold, knowing that being bold might make you wrong and embarrassingly so. The good news for the Toronto Raptors is that Masai Ujiri is not afraid to take that risk. His first draft pick as the Raptors general manger proves it. He’s certainly not worried about what Twitter thinks or what the talking heads on ESPN think – both forums weren’t impressed with Ujiri’s out-of-nowhere selection of Brazilian teenager Bruno Caboclo with the 20th pick in the NBA draft. But that doesn’t mean he’s not capable of gross errors in judgment, and for the first time in his 13 months as GM he’s left himself open to the possibility as the basketball intelligentsia greeted his choice with a collective spit take.
The pick was met with stunned silence in the Raptors’ media workroom. In Brooklyn, ESPN’s international scouting expert Fran Fraschilla raved about Caboclo’s raw talent but said he was “two years away from being two years away.” Casey said the Raptors would immediately send Caboclo out to L.A., where the likes of DeMar DeRozan, Terrence Ross, and Amir Johnson are working out with some of the team’s coaches. Casey said Caboclo’s potential trumped everything else left on the draft board at No. 20. “There were some other guys on the board, but with this young man’s potential I don’t think the other guys left on the board had potential as high as Bruno and that was the deciding factor for us,” he said. “Again he’s a young man that all these other guys are probably more polished just because they have come through the system so to speak but this young man as far as potential is ahead of where they are going to be. His ceiling is higher than some of those other guys.”
He can glide end-to-end quite easily, filling the lanes on fast breaks or chasing down opponents for blocks. His overall agility and aerial prowess are comparable to the upper tier of athletes in the NBA. In half-court scenarios, we see glimpses of his leaping ability when he makes straight-line drives or corrals a rebound. He also can stifle and overwhelm lesser athletes defensively. When he pairs some polished skills with this athleticism, he’ll be a dangerous asset.
Balassiano said Caboclo was not sure when he would come to Toronto, “It’s too early to know what will be happening right now. If I’m gonna play for Toronto (right away),” Caboclo said. But the Raptors later said they expect him to suit up at Las Vegas Summer League. He expects to meet soon with the Raptors but has, “no suit, no tie, I have nothing. Now, it is now difficult to think about things. Not with my family I got to tell you to be honest,” he told Balassiano. According to Araujo, Caboclo was the best player in the under-23 Brazilian League tournament. “He really is above other players with the same age,” he said. “Despite his (lack of minutes in the Brazilian League), he had a lot of time in the South American Championship and he was just great. He showed a lot of ability to score.”
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
“We went down to Houston to see him. Masai had been down (to Brazil) three times in a stealth move,” said Casey. “We’re excited about getting him. I know a lot of people don’t know about him. It reminds me a lot of Rashard Lewis. This young man stepped out and shot the three very well in drills. There’s a lot of potential there.”
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What will we love and/or hate about him? Matt: Fans will love his sneaky athleticism and shot blocking ability. There are times when he comes out of no where to deliver a rim rattling dunk to energize the crowd. Fans will hate his inability to dribble the basketball. Aman: You will love his potential. He was rated the 10th overall prospect in the country coming out of high school. He’s extremely athletic and is a great shooter for a tall guy. Great character too. He’s also stood toe to toe with some of the best in college basketball and come out on top, he’s shown more than just potential.
To cap off perhaps the most bizarre draft in Toronto Raptors history, it looks like the club’s selection of San Diego State guard Xavier Thames, was actually on behalf of the Brooklyn Nets. Yahoo! Sports’ Adrian Wojnarowski is reporting that the Dinos have dealt the 59th pick to the Brooklynites.
“I think the right situation is somewhere I’m winning and being happy, and honestly I want to play for a championship,” Lowry told Basketball Insiders. “I’m happy with making the playoffs and doing that, but the end game for all players should be a championship and that’s what I want to play for. I want to play for a championship.”
Source: Toronto looking to S&T Kyle Lowry to Miami for cash and future picks. Part II: Bosh opts out, returns to Toronto.
It’s not inconceivable that Lowry could wind up playing with James if he re-ups with the Miami Heat, but the economics in that equation would make it extremely challenging. The more likely scenario, by far, involves Lowry getting paid handsomely by a team that wasn’t able to convince the four-time MVP to come its way. According to two people with knowledge of the situation, the Houston Rockets — whom Lowry played for from 2009 to 2012 — are one of those teams. While Rockets general manager Daryl Morey will woo free agents like James, Anthony and Heat center Chris Bosh (if he opts out of his deal), he also will pursue Lowry if those initial options are no longer in play. It would be quite the full-circle kind of story, as the Rockets’ decision to trade Lowry to the Raptors in July 2012 played a vital part in their eventual acquisition of shooting guard James Harden just a few months later (the Oklahoma City Thunder received the lottery-protected first-round pick Houston had received from Toronto in that Oct. 2012 deal). The Los Angeles Lakers, who also plan to pursue both James and Anthony, are also known to be on Lowry’s short list of prospective landing spots.
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