Masai Ujiri has nailed almost every draft pick he has made in Toronto, and the Raptors current depth chart has his draft fingerprints all over it. Delon Wright at 20. OG Anunoby at 23. Jakob Poeltl at 9. Pascal Siakam at 27. Etc.
Based on where he has drafted Masai can easily put his draft record against anyone in the league over the last three years…except for one current blemish.
Bruno Cabolco started his career in complete mystery, with Fran Fraschilla’s “two years away from being two years away” quote being the most concrete piece of information available to fans. With Adam Silver not even knowing how to pronounce his name on draft day, Raptors fans had to search for any scrap of information from the little video available, a few spotty stats from low levels (and minutes) of competition, and measureables that seemed alien.
Toronto is now three years into the Bruno experiment and have little to show for the bet. Including Bruno, 48 of the 60 players drafted in 2014 have played at least 25 games. The other 47 players have exceeded Bruno’s average of just 4.5 minutes per game.
If you’re looking for a silver lining here it is: this was always the plan. Masai Ujiri has talked about Fraschilla stealing his now famous line from Masai himself. Toronto never planned for Bruno to contribute during his first few years. The plan was to develop him and see what he could become based on the raw tools available.
Now in year four, it’s up to Bruno to prove that he deserves to stick in the NBA. For financial reasons alone it is unlikely the Raptors will extend the qualifying offer to Bruno unless he finds a way to breakout this season, which would make him an unrestricted free agent next summer. By requesting to go to the Raptors905 Bruno is not only trying to make the Raptors roster moving forward, but also auditioning for the 29 other NBA teams.
While his preseason performance didn’t help in this matter, so far he is handling his business well in the G-League. Through four games Bruno is averaging 31.8 minutes and is contributing across the board in helping the 905 to a 3-2 record start the season (3-1 in games Bruno has played).
Not only is Bruno averaging 17.5 points, 7.5 rebounds, 2 steals, and 1.5 blocks, but he is doing it while shooting 53.2 percent from the field, 58.8 percent from three, and 90.9 percent from the line (2.8 free throw attempts per game). He has also switched between starting at Centre and Power Forward
He has looked truly dominant so far in the early going, but one of the knocks about Bruno even at the G-League level has been consistency. Putting together a few solid games only to disappear and get discouraged in the games to come. It is this attitude that came out in the Finals last year, and what got him kicked off of the Brazilian National Team this summer.
If you didn’t watch the game itself, it’s worth watching Bruno’s 22 point performance against the Westchester Knicks from Sunday.
Bruno is showing some of the potential that caused Masai to draft him in the first place, and at just 22 years old there is still time for him to put his full game together at an NBA level.
I wouldn’t bet that Bruno will ever become a starter in the NBA (if you know someone who would, talk to them about gambling addiction), but I still have believe in Bruno as an NBA player. Whatever you’ve got left, I’m willing to buy your Bruno stock.