Why you should calm down about the Caboclo pick

No hype doesn’t mean he’s bad.

Look, I’m in the same boat as everyone else here. I know nothing about Bruno Caboclo. You know nothing about Bruno Caboclo. Reporters don’t know anything about Bruno Caboclo. Watching a grainy Draft Express video or reading into vague physical measurements won’t help.

The analysts manning the draft also didn’t know anything about the guy. All they knew was that he’s got a ridiculous wingspan, and is Brazilian. So, in having five minutes to fill, they bandied on the spot, sputtering whatever came to mind. They cracked jokes about him being the “Brazilian Durant”, and being “two years away from being two years away.”

As fans, in our desperate need for reassurance, we snatched every word and put them in a file. When the five minutes were up, we closed the book and evaluated what we had. An 18-year-old dude with single-digit per-game averages in Brazil? What? Based on that information, expending a first-rounder on his is madness. The ESPN guys had carte blanche because we were going to hang on every word. It wasn’t like they could be wrong — no one knew anything about the guy. No one did.

No one but Masai Ujiri and his scouts. And yet, comment sections are alight with hate for the pick. Why?

It’s hard to take any person’s judgement at face value. Given that we have zero information on the guy, trusting that this pick was a good idea is simply a reflection of faith in Ujiri and his scouting team. It’s borrowing their judgement in lieu of having anything to judge. If you’re sold by Ujiri’s draft history — of which is rather decent, for what it’s worth — then without information to the contrary, trusting his decisions on the draft is your only move.

The opposite stance, that being you don’t trust Ujiri’s instincts or process, is fine too. There’s no need to give him the benefit of the doubt on anything. He could be entirely out to lunch. If Caboclo was so unheralded, perhaps the Raptors could have taken someone else at 20, and picked him later at 37? If that’s the case, there’s a question of proper asset management that needs to be asked.

And I even understand the perspective of fans who wanted to see the 20th picked used for short term help, be it with an old rookie or via trade.  In that case, be upset.

But the real reason why most people are upset is because they’re making the leap that having no information on Caboclo means he’s terrible. That’s stupid.

Perhaps that’s the downside of hype. When everyone’s watching and talking about a player, we assume he’s good. That’s a logical thought to make because if multiple talent evaluators are watching and their opinions are uniformly positive, there’s a good chance the player is good. The danger, however, lies in when we extrapolate that logic backwards to no conversation and no hype. We assume those guys aren’t talked about because they’re not worth talking about.

But consider the situation once more. He’s incredibly young and he plays in Brazil. How many ESPN scouts or Draft Express lackeys are being jetted down to the Amazon to scout players? Scratch that — how many NBA scouts are even doing that? A tiny handful? One would assume that the Spurs, who uproot talent from all corners of the globe, were in on Caboclo. According to reports, the Suns were too. Of course no one is talking about him.

And so if the ESPN/DX scouts didn’t go themselves, then their only way to rank or give an opinion of the player is through sources in the league. And if no one in the league, save for the Spurs, Suns and Raptors were in on this guy, why would they leak anything to the press? There’s value in secrecy. The media aren’t clueless about Caboclo because he’s not worth talking about. They’re clueless because they straight up don’t know who he is.

This whole piece ultimately cycles back to the same thing about mystery. We don’t know anything about him. However, not knowing his name isn’t onto itself bad. It’s just nothing. We know nothing, and neither does anyone else.

And if that’s the case, how are we making judgements about this pick whatsoever?

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