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Two years ago the Toronto Raptors shocked the basketball world when they drafted Bruno Caboclo, a youngster from Brazil who wasn’t really on anybody’s radar as a first round pick. It was made clear from day one that Bruno was to be an experiment: can you take someone with all the physical attributes you look for in a basketball player but who has never actually played high level competitive basketball and use the D League to turn him into an NBA player? 2+ years in the jury is still out, leaving many Raptors fans questioning whether the experiment is worth continuing and putting Caboclo in the unenviable position of having to outperform people who may have thousands of hours of competitive basketball experience over him to justify his continued existence in this organization.

The expectations are more than a little unfair; they may be fair expectations of a player who grew up playing high school and AAU ball and then moved on to the NCAA or one who turned pro in Europe during his teenage years, but Caboclo is neither of those. The 1270 minutes he played in the D League last season makes up roughly ¾ of his total high level basketball experience, and going into last season he had less experience than your average high school kid. Expecting him to jump from that to being an NBA contributor in 2 seasons is unrealistic. You can argue that Masai should have taken someone more NBA-ready but on a team that already has NBA ready youngsters who they may not be able to find minutes for I’m not sure what the point would be. The Raptors found themselves in a position to try something new and they leapt at it.

The lack of experience that holds young Bruno back is also what makes this experiment so fascinating. It means he has trouble recognizing game situations that his peers have seen hundreds of times before but it also means he’s avoided some of the trappings that come from growing up a prized athletic prospect. There are no bad habits from playing against inferior comp he can physically overwhelm, no attitude issues from people constantly in his ear telling him he’s the next big thing and no entitlement issues from a lifetime of being given free gear. He’s about as close to a blank slate as a modern NBA team will ever be able to bring on board, which leaves them free to create him in whatever image they would like. They have the opportunity to take a physical freak and tailor his skillset to the brand of basketball they would like to play. It’s such an intriguing idea that there is a part of me hoping they never really give up on it. That last roster spot does not usually make a difference anyway, let the kid hold it until he’s 27 just to see what happens.

He still has a tendency to play like a deer in headlights on the biggest stage, even in garbage time and preseason, so you can’t really look to that to see evidence of his progress. The work the Raptors have done becomes very apparent when you watch his D League games, particularly the later season games from last season. The jump shot that impressed the coaches and scouts so much leading up to the draft is still there as are the athleticism and fluidity of movement but there are little things that weren’t there before: the way he gets his shoulders past his defender on drives, the way he recognizes opportunities to seal smaller defenders near the rim, the time taken to probe for space instead and patience to seek better opportunities instead of making the immediate play. His feel for the game on defense has advanced even beyond that, with Bruno already having demonstrated an ability to patiently track penetrating ball-handlers and wait for his opportunity to make a play on the ball, close out under control and position himself in ways that allow his wingspan to act as a deterrent to multiple offensive options. Most of that wasn’t there at the beginning of the Raptors 905 season but by the end Caboclo was using all of that to be an impact player on both ends of the floor.

If you’re expecting Caboclo to step in as a contributor off the bench this season then prepare to be disappointed. He’s not that player yet and realistically there was no way he was going to be capable of contributing like that at stage in his development. This was always a long term plan by Masai Ujiri and judging it in it’s infancy requires more nuance than simply looking at how productive he is as an NBA player at this point in time. Caboclo should be judged by how much progress he has made; last season he added a lot to his skillset and you started seeing the transition from the gangly ball of potential he was when he was drafted to the mobile hybrid forward he projects to become. If you’re expecting to see early stages of him living up to the “Brazilian Kevin Durant” moniker or the Giannis Antetokounmpo comparisons brought on by his wingspan you should also prepare for disappointment; Bruno doesn’t have the guard skills of either player and the team seems to be molding him into a dynamic stretch four.

In hindsight the “two years away from being two years away” label was pretty accurate as Bruno is probably about halfway through his development into an NBA contributor. We shouldn’t spend the season pining for more established players who could be underplayed the way Norman Powell projects to be this season or lamenting the lack of roster space for marginal NBA players who don’t project to be as good as Bruno(should this experiment pay off the way most of Ujiri’s moves have to date). Instead we should spend the season tracking his development. If you don’t already tune into Raptors 905 games I’d encourage you to start, if only to see for yourself how the Bruno experiment is going. If he doesn’t add things to his game this season or develop a better feel for the ebb and flow of offense in a professional basketball setting then it may be time to worry but as the 2016-17 seasons approaches Bruno is exactly where he should be.


  • methayusking

    he likes camping on the corners

  • Noelle

    Well done, and I hope it registers in some heads that don’t get it yet.

    • n8

      To be fair, “some heads”, have a legitmate gripe about Bruno Caboclo. Yes he is a young player, and yes he has some truly unique physical tools, but the level of production from him at pretty much all levels prior to a few decent stretches with the 905 is sorely lacking for a first round pick. Everything this article says about Bruno’s inexperience is 100% true, but it is also 100% true that for the last two year and proably the next two years or more Bruno Caboclo will hold a roster spot that could have gone to a number of better players that could make more of a contribution to the Raptors. Look at a guy like Uthoff or Crawford, Singler and Vanvleet. These guys could make legitmate contributions to both the 905 and the Raptors but 3/4 of them are probably heading out the door. Bruno still has the potential to be a good player, and he’s only 21, but if it will take him two more years to become NBA-rookie level competent, and then who knows how many more years to become a regular rotation guy, then will the end product really be worth the wait and investment? I still think it is, but you have to acknowldege the legitimacy of the counter-argument.

      Also: Jokic was drafted after Bruno (arrrgh!… just kidding everyone slept on Jokic that year).

      Edit: guys like Siakam and Poetl were considered projects as well (mostly Siakam) but they’re still years ahead of Caboclo in terms of player development. When guys like that exist Bruno’s non-production only looks worse.

      • Noelle

        Legitimate gripe about an insanely physically gifted 20 year old that is 2 years into a 4 year project? As was clear from the moment he was drafted? Pining over missing out on one of Uthoff, Crawford, Singler, VanVleet, when one of them will already be kept, and the other will be a 14th/15th man that will likely never see the floor in a meaningful game? More of a contribution as a cheerleader? Sorry, but I fail to see legitimate reasons for all the angst over missing out on someone that will not crack the rotation at any time in the near future, if they ever will,,,, anywhere in the NBA. Wait and investment? The wait was defined the minute he was drafted, and the investment is very little, near meaningless,,, for a potential upside far greater than any of these undrafted guys.

        • Suspicious Mind

          Perfect!

      • Mike$

        I thought Bruno played a lot better than crawford last night, and singler too. His D on a boarderline allstar was pretty great and he didn’t look lost at all. He played the dribble well and forced him into long 2’s (where he even blocked one).

        For people saying that he always looks lost and has no IQ last night was the perfect counter example on the defensive end. On offence he didn’t do anything, which makes his overall performance pretty mediocre but he definitely looked like a legitimate NBA player defensively.

      • artreddin

        Uthoff, Siakam, VanVleet and Poetl are all older than Caboclo. Crawford and Singler, while excellent D-league players, were simply not as good as Bruno last year. The young man has athleticism to rival T Ross’ but also (apparently) a head problem as serious as Ross’. Coaches from Mermys to Casey praise Bruno´s considerable potential, as seen in practice, and were/are trying to encourage him and boost his confidence.

        Like the article says, he has never been top dog in a small kennel. That lack of arrogance leads to him being open to learning everything he can.

        Putting on the muscle to become a four has also been good for him. Did you see how he sent Jokic flying with just an arm push? He got tagged for it, but I thought “Bravo! Good defence!”

        A hundred bucks says this conversation about his being unfit for the NBA will be seen as silly by the end of the year. Any takers?

        • Dunkenstein

          The young man has athleticism to rival T Ross>>

          I respectfully disagree.

      • Bargsgone

        blah blah blah Bargs held a roster spot for ? years give the kid a break, he wept and thats a good sign

  • Dinos Charitopoulos

    The possibilities of Bruno becoming a proper NBA -level player are very low. If we were in Europe I wouldn’t mind keeping him until he reaches a certain limit. But this is NBA, with specific player salary cap. Raptors (that are not in any kind of rebuilding more) don’t have the luxury to keep players and paying them $1.5M (or $1.9 for Bebe), but cannot leverage these salaries and talents to improve the team. I don’t know if “demoting” them to D-league can free cap space (i believe this is not happening), but I could prefer to give Josh Smith a veteran minimum and take the risk rather than having players that I know they would not contribute as much as they have to.

    • Oran

      You lost all credibility when you brought up Josh Smith

  • Eastcoast

    Making it in the league, and getting a 2nd contract is not a right, it’s a privilege to be earned. There are going to be young guys cut from the team this year that are better than him, now and very likely will be in the future. There are such things as contracts lengths, and I’d suggest signing up to pay a player guaranteed money for 4 years, and tie up a roster spot for 4 years, if you don’t expect him to actually play for you in that time, it’s a pretty lousy deal. People talk about risk taking, but perhaps the better risk to take would have been not to reach for him in the 1st round and wait to see if he’s there at 37. If someone else had taken him, would anyone even care? It what way would we have lost out on anything?

    Also, I see a lot of projecting all these great traits on to Bruno, about this blank slate, that do not seem grounded in anything but wishful thinking. I get how on fans sites these can be unchallenged and treated as fact, but the fact is Bruno still approaches the game like’s he’s a breakout scorer ready to happen, and he’s only know getting, that he’s not going to be that. Hell, they spent like all last year trying to get him to learn the difference between a good and bad shot.

    It would be great if he were a better player, but all this talk about how you’ll be disappointed if you expect this, needs to remember that it was only the prospect of that high ceiling that makes it worth it. There is no sense punting a 1st contract and extending a 2nd for a guy you hope, may develop into and NBA quality player, when every year you can get a known NBA quality player cheap, who can help your team, and not the other way around.

    There seems to be a lot of lip service payed to the “risk” but very little openness to the evidence that perhaps it won’t work out. I mean, that’s why it’s a risk right, because chances are it’s a punted pick. It is what it is.

    • Mike$

      ” There is no sense punting a 1st contract and extending a 2nd for a guy you hope, may develop into and NBA quality player, when every year you can get a known NBA quality player cheap, who can help your team, and not the other way around.”

      That is exactly what the NBA draft is about… Most years everyone outside of the top 10 isn’t guaranteed to be anything, and most of the time there are a few picks within the top 10 that fail to be anything. What was the point of drafting Saikam, we had no idea if he would have turned into a NBA quality player. We could have just picked up Jason Thompson for even cheaper and we know hes an NBA quality player. Hell you could even make that argument for Ingram. He’s pretty skinny and a little bit of a project. Im sure a vet could be brought in thats better than him right now for cheaper. Was there no sense in punting a first contract and extending a 2nd for a guy you hope, may develop into an NBA quality player?

      I know the ingram example is blown out of proportion but its based on the same logic. The guys at the back of the roster rarely do anything. We brought in an NBA quality player in late last year instead of keeping a young guy (thompson for bennet), did he really contribute to more wins or a longer playoff run? The season would have been exactly the same if we kept bennet

      We could do the same thing this year. Bring in thompson for Bruno. But since neither will play or impact the total number of wins or how deep the playoff run is whats the point? Might as well take the 1 in a million shot at a player that could impact the future than someone who won’t impact the present or the future.

      • Eastcoast

        No. The draft is not about picking a player you don’t expect to play for you, for the length of the contract. Ever since the Fran burn, fans have bought into a 4 year or more grace period where nothing is expected of Bruno. That’s not how most picks are treated. Many, if they haven’t made a mark by year 3 are out of the league. Average NBA career is only 4.8 years. Most player don’t get 4 or 5 years just to learn.

        We aren’t planning on developing Siakam like we did Bruno, we expect Siakam to be further along. We need Siakam to be further along. Ingram is going to play in the NBA this year. Rookies are usually the best ROI because they don’t cost as much. Where as Bruno has been our worst ROI, because he just doesn’t play or contribute anything.

        I want him to be great and to prove the pick was a great move too. I just don’t think he’s very good, and I think at the end of the day, the pick looks to be a waste. I hope he some how becomes much better, and earns a role with us, beside comic relief. Bebe, looked pretty useful last night, which does not bode well for Bruno’s future, imo.

        • Mike$

          Bruno’s D on a boarderline allstar was pretty great and he didn’t look lost at all. He played the dribble well and forced him into long 2’s (where he even blocked one).

          For people saying that he always looks lost and has no IQ last night was the perfect counter example on the defensive end. On offence he didn’t do anything, which makes his overall performance pretty mediocre but he definitely looked like a legitimate NBA player defensively.

        • Gavin MacPherson

          You’re just inventing this “player you don’t expect to play for you” nonsense, nobody is actually suggesting anything like that. I’d take that argument in another direction, though: walking away from developing Bruno after all the time and money invested in him is a waste. The Raptors have committed to this knowing exactly what the project was going to require, they need to see it through so long as Bruno is showing progression.

          And you’re right that this isn’t how most picks are treated…most picks have basketball experience before they’re drafted. This is the whole point. What the Raptors are doing with Bruno is completely unprecedented so to expect the pick to be treated the same way as every other pick doesn’t make sense.

          • Dunkenstein

            Sometimes it’s best to not throw good money after bad. Aside from his long arms, why is he an NBA basketball player?

            • Noelle

              In response to a well written, and somewhat in depth analysis of the Bruno experiment, and where it stands, purposely pointing out that he’s not currently an NBA basketball player, and wasn’t drafted expecting to be yet, except from the inflated opinions of some fans,,,,,, and lots of other similar posts looking at a bigger picture as well as the angst over a 15th man (f*** it’s laughable),,,, you come along at the end with “why is he an NBA basketball player?” ????

              lol, that’s like entering an in depth discussion about the many nuances of the game of basketball,,,,, with “why do you people call it basketball when there are no peach baskets?”

            • Gavin MacPherson

              Because he can defend and shoot. If you don’t think that in itself is incredibly valuable think about how many players the Raptors have brought through to play the 2, 3 and 4 in the last decade and how many could do both.

            • Mike$

              Did you not watch him last game? He played really good D on Gallanri who is a really good offensive player. He can also shoot the 3 at a NBA level

  • Eastcoast

    We currently have Powell, Wright, Bebe, Bruno, Poeltl and Siakam. Next year we have two more firsts coming. Of a 15 man Roster that would be 8 of them. Of that group, only Powell and maybe one of the bigs will get any regular playing time. Meaning, the remaining 7, have to carry all the weight while these guys develop. If you are perpetually developing, you a) limit the ability and flexibility to afford that time and attention to rookies picked after Bruno, who may have a greater likelihood of helping the club. We have DD, JV, Ross, Carroll, Corey all under contract for multi years and two FA’s with bird rights. We can’t pretend there is no cost or crunch interms of the personel at the end of the bench. It’s one thing to talk of the 14th and 15th man, but, we’re already beyond that.

    Heck, Bruno can’t do summer league anymore, and after this year can only be assigned to the D league with his consent. And we can only send 3 guys to the D league at at time. I can count 3 guys I’d rather have developing there besides Bruno right now, and there could be two more 1st rounders coming next year. This idea that It’s either Bruno of a bloated contract for Chuck Hayes, is bogus. Aaron Brooks plays back up PG for as much as we pay Bruno and he helps the team he’s on. Chuck Hayes, actually helped us when he was here. Fields, Steimsa all added more than Bruno can.

    • Noelle

      That’s quite the math, already inserting next year’s draft picks, which may not even be part of the mix a year from now (trade bait maybe?), to justify some weird reasoning for the need of a Hayes/Fields/Steimsma/Brooks, this year, to fill out the end of the bench and see nothing but garbage time? This is getting laughable.

    • Mike$

      Yes chuck hayes, landry feilds or aaron brooks could contribute more to the Raps. They might get to play in 5 or 6 games for a total of 50 minutes. Thats more than Bruno, but would they really contribute meaningfully? I’d bet anyone of those guys might increase the win total by 1. And they wouldn’t change the outcome of any playoff game or series. Would you really rather have a vet like that at the end of the bench than a guy who might contribute meaningfully in the future

      • Oran

        Not to mention how shortsighted that approach is. Personally I like that the management team is seeking to balance winning now and developing players for down the road.

    • n8

      While i don’t agree with you about Steimsa, this is basically the gist of the anti-Bruno argument, you’re spot on. Either way you look at it though, 21 is still very young and his career can go in any direction from here, so its way to early to decisively conclude anything about his future. The tools exist, the coordination and ability to shoot the ball is there, its just a matter of time, and we gotta decide if its worth the wait or not in the near future, but maybe not quite yet.

      • Bargsgone

        i think it’s worth the wait,fuck! i waited for Bargs

    • Dunkenstein

      Agreed. I don’t have a crystal ball or profess to be a basketball mastermind but I have played the game a lot ( my gimpy knee the proof ) and watched a lot of basketball both NBA and college.

      Bruno doesn’t have ” it .’ He doesn’t have natural aggression or great hand to eye co ordination. He doesn’t have any natural basketball smarts. Aside from long arms there is nothing I’ve seen that leads me to believe he will ever be an NBA rotation player.

      Physical prowess alone does not make an athlete. Raptors brass already understands this but they want to give the kid every opportunity to prove us wrong.

      I hope he does but I’d be willing to bet against it.

      • Suspicious Mind

        I agree with your assessment of Bruno’s current skill set. 100%. It worries me too. What I also see though, is a kid who gives a shit. A kid who comes from nothing and knows how lucky he is. Thing is, I’m not convinced Bruno believes he belongs yet either and as a young man that has experienced so much change in such a short period of time, the next important stage in his development is confidence. I think the second he starts to believe, or “get it”, he could be a difference maker. Like you, I’ve played and been around the game a lot and for that reason, I’m not sure I would be willing to bet a significant amount that happens, but Ross seems to have turned a corner in the mental aspect of the game and I really started to doubt if that was ever possible. There’s a great culture and mentality within this franchise and maybe that’s enough to get what appears to currently be lacking in Bruno to come out in a few years of development. If not, meh….gamble worth taking. If so, this franchise could be the envy of the league.

        • Dunkenstein

          Ross has disappointed us before. I’m not convinced He has turned the corner. He has looked sharp for the first two games.
          But with Ross you could see the talent right away. His long range shooting game, his great leaping and dunking. Then he scored 51 points in a game. If Rossi ever straightens his head out his ceiling is NBA starter. No doubt. Bruno. I’ve made my case already.

          Prove me wrong Bruno.

        • Gavin MacPherson

          I don’t understand concerns about his skillset because he may already be an NBA level defender and definitely has an an NBA level three point shot, which are both high value skills in todays game. One of the biggest things that has plagued the Raptors for the last decade is a lack of players who can do both.

          • Suspicious Mind

            The skill set that both me and Dunkenstein are referring to is not necessarily his physical abilities. It has more to do with his mental make up and compete level. The only concern I have with Bruno physically is his foot speed and small vertical. As you say though, and as I’ve said in an other post on this thread and many times before, his current skills of 3 and D should be enough to keep him employed. That said, he could be more than that if the mental catches up.

          • Oran

            Having someone with those skills who can play at the 4 no less is even more intriguing. I fully recognize there is a high chance he doesn’t pan out but it’s not like his roster spot has held the team back from achieving success. In addition its not like his roster spot could be given to someone who would get us past Cleveland.

    • Gavin MacPherson

      This kind of misses the point in that it’s not about Bruno specifically and more about the Raptors philosophy in general. If your issue is that they’ve stockpiled too many young players that’s fine but that criticism is there whether Bruno is one of those young players or not. If what you want is more of a veteran presence in the deep bench then your real issue should be with the Raptors inability to move any combination of these young players for a playable bench veteran.

      And there’s also nothing suggesting that such a veteran would have an impact or get to play. By most standards Delon Wright played NBA level basketball in the minutes he got last year and he only saw 200 minutes. There is no realistic alternative to Bruno that makes a significant impact.

      • Bargsgone

        …and the GM did say he wanted to see young players at the end of the bench. also i have no problem with Bruno being on the Bargs 7 year plan, he plays defense.Good read Gavin

  • R.D. Vaughan

    This article describes better than I could where I’m at with the Bruno experiment. I watched his improvements in the 905 last year and lamented, as did Blake, that the 905 did not exist the first year he was drafted.

    This one sentence sums it all up for me “If he doesn’t add things to his game this season or develop a better feel for the ebb and flow of offence in a professional basketball setting then it may be time to worry …”

    With other youngsters (Powell, Siakam, Poeltl …), to watch and entertain us hanging on to Bruno is not that onerous. Outside of Powell they are all likely it only be bit players this season no matter how well they play. The Raptors are a dam good team that are not dependant on their recent draft picks to put them back in the playoffs. Well not this year at least.

    With that being said having two first rounders and a second in 2017 means either trades and/or cuts to the Raptors stock pile of young players. So next summer the rubber will meet the road.

  • Wild-ling #1

    I liked this article and am glad someone took the time to write it (well).

    I’ll continue to trust Masai and co. as to the cost/benefit analysis of players clearly on the margins: Bruno vs. (say) Singler (we’re keeping Freddie, right?.)

    Will it work out? No one can say for sure … But perhaps those critical of the organization should take Gavin’s advice and watch Bruno with the 905’s. 🙂

    • Steve Alex

      As always, you are very positive. i like that!

      • Wild-ling #1

        Cheers! 🙂

  • justsayin

    What does Bruno have to turn into in order to justify the unique opportunity he has to develop without any expectation of contribution at the NBA level for at least 3 years, maybe 4? What does he have to show before getting another contact extension? Etc.

    • Mike$

      I think he just needs to continue to improve. By all accounts he’s a gym rat. The crazy amount of muscle he’s added since draft day proves that. At the end of last year he was dominant in the dleague. If he picks up where he left off and continues to dominate the dleague this year while still improving and bulking up, I think thats when you consider a contract extension.

      He showed yesterday he can d up a boarderline all star. He did absolutely nothing offensively but you could really see the improvement (especially in the iq department) on the defensive side. If he can learn the defensive aspect of the game, why not the offensive end? But its all about improvement with him, he is still far from an NBA player so if starts to plateau they should part ways with him

      • justsayin

        You’ve talked about the weight gain a number of times. I don’t see it.

        • Mike$

          Here’s an article that says he weighs 221 lbs. Its from a year ago so its quite dated. But compared to his draft express weight of 200 lbs its obvious he’s gained weight.

          http://raptorsrapture.com/2015/05/29/bruno-caboclo-are-raptors-going-to-see-any-value-in-his-second-season/

          Here’s another article that backs up his weight gain as he went into the second year.
          http://probballreport.com/bruno-caboclo-is-learning-fast-with-raptors-905/

          Lastly this is a podcast from blake and lou reacting to media day. Blake was saying bruno looks more “swole” this year. Considering blake has been covering 905 and has been interviewing him up close for awhile I think its fair to say bruno’s gotten bigger. So if he’s even bigger than his 221lbs from his 2nd year thats a substantial amount of muscle gain. I thought it was pretty easy to tell from pics but guess not.

          http://www.raptorsrepublic.com/2016/09/30/raptors-weekly-extra-podcast-sept-30-media-day-reaction-fantasy-preview/

          • Dunkenstein

            221 pounds? I doubt that’s right. Demarre and DD are listed at 96 and 98 kg respectively about 10 pou ds les.these gents have arms and shoulders and chests. No doubt Bruno is heavier than when he came to the Rescue a couple of yes ago but most young man gain weight between the age of 19 TO 21.

            • Noelle

              Whatever you doubt, and whatever most men do between 19 to 21, doesn’t mean a damn to anyone who has eyes and can see it pretty glaringly

            • Mike$

              When Bruno came to the team he was 19 and just turned 21 this fall, so he has been in the range where he gains weight the easiest. Even this summer he was only 20 years old. DD is listed at 220lbs right from the nba site (100 kg). Yes he’s more built than bruno, but bruno is still 3 or 4 inches taller and has about 2 feet in extra arms.

              Them being a similar weight makes sense.

      • Bargsgone

        Bruno will become a star under Stackhouse trust me

    • Bargsgone

      become a scoring machine, which he will become after this 2 year plan with uncle Stackhouse

    • dishqust

      Great question. He needs to be an above average 3&D stretch 4. Gives you perimeter D and interior presence with his length and also the ability to match-up with some of the true freaks of the league – KD, Giannis, PG, while hitting 3’s on offence. That’s huge value.

  • webfeat

    If he ever succeeds at reaching his ceiling, his life story could make great basketball movie some day.

  • Adriiian

    Can you take someone with all the physical attributes you look for in a
    basketball player but who has never actually played high level
    competitive basketball and use the D League to turn him into an NBA
    player?

    No.

    • Bargsgone

      but but what about the Bargs 7 year plan, why can’t Bruno the defender get on that plan

      • Adriiian

        Bargnani was a lot different. Bargnani gets a little too much disrespect here at times. 7 footer with a great shot.. He was a reach at #1, but there’s been a lot worse players in the league than Bargs.

        Bruno is nowhere near what Andrea was when he was younger. Andrea was actually a basketball player.

  • Edward Jamer

    Hmm… I thought the Bruno experiment was coming along well, despite what some RR forum dwellers say.

    First year was essentially a write-off – he was getting used to a new environment/language and building strength. Second year was the first chance for any meaningful skill development (thanks 905!) even though he’s shown a less than I had hoped. His advancement this year is likely what will tell the tale… at least, that’s been my expectation from Day 1.

    Nobody is giving him a 4-year leash because of the famous draft commentary; instead, people are being patient because everyone knew up front this was a long-term project. Can a kid with ridiculous physical assets and very little actual basketball experience be turned into an NBA player? Depends on the kid, I guess.

    Keeping my fingers crossed that he can show at least one serious NBA-level skill by year end. That would make the project easier to accept; otherwise it will be hard to re-up for development and the experiment will seem like a failure.

  • Suspicious Mind

    God Damn that was an amazing article!!! Sincerely one of my favourites of all time. It’s literally everything I wanted to say about Bruno, but was too lazy to articulate. To me, there’s no doubt he’s an NBA player simply based on his 3 point ability and defensive potential (talent). What type of NBA player remains to be seen, but based on the player (and character) development of this franchise since Masai came on board and Casey matured as a coach, it’s safe to say that BC will be a “contributor” to a good team. I haven’t read any of the comments yet, so apologies if this has been said multiple times, but props to coach for putting him in the starting line up. Bruno has gone from playing Canadian college equivalent level basketball, to the biggest stage in the world, so temporarily making him feel like he belongs can have a lasting effect. In two short years, he’s developed. Any time he’s on the floor with the big boys, he’s a last resort offensively, so seeing him do some of the little things to contribute is encouraging. If you’re into instant gratification, then he’s going to drive you insane, but the state of the current talent level on the Raps, and the salary cap benefit of turning nothing into something should give you a little reason to be a little patient in the franchise putting in the time and resources to see what he can become. If he ends up being a bust….we’ll be alright. If he can elevate the mental side of the game to his natural ability, then watch out!!

  • Mexiballer

    The article states…

    “You can argue that Masai should have taken someone more NBA-ready but on
    a team that already has NBA ready youngsters who they may not be able
    to find minutes for I’m not sure what the point would be”

    What exactly are talking about?

    When Bruno was drafted the Raptors bench was very weak and in desperate need of a potential rotation player. Powell, Wright, Poetl and Siakam were all drafted the following years after Bruno was taken with a first round pick.

    There are a lot of weak points in this article. But the idea that we did not need someone more NBA when Bruno was drafted is just not true.

    • Gavin MacPherson

      I may have worded that poorly but it’s not reinventing history, I just focused on the present.

      Saying the Raptors bench was weak when they drafted Bruno is reinventing history, however. When Bruno was drafted they had one of the most productive benches in the league: Patterson, Hansbrough, Vasquez and Hayes were already on the roster, Lou Will and JJ would join them days after Bruno was drafted.

      • justsayin

        Hansbrough and Hayes aren’t names that one would associate with a good bench. C’mon man. And are you assuming that Masai had deals already in the works for Williams and Johnson on draft night? Look at what they had at the moment Bruno was drafted. Ross was the starting SF with no one on the roster to back him up. Amir was one year away from free agency and Tyler Hansbrough was the frickin back up centre. Clearly not ideal.

        Maybe the draft wasn’t viewed as the best avenue to address those issues, but in hindsight there were guys still on the board that could’ve helped.

        • Gavin MacPherson

          You’re aware that in 2015 the Raptors were +9.9 pts/100 poss with Hansbrough on the floor, right? He may have been their best and most consistent bench player that year.

          Acting like there was a point in time where depth was a concern for the Raptors instead of one of their strengths is pretty ridiculous. Their depth has been one of their biggest strengths since Masai took over.

          • justsayin

            My god. Are you really trying to spin Hansbrough this way? If he’s your best bench player then you’ve clearly got problems.

            • Noelle

              My god. Are you really unable to keep track of your own argument, or just well practiced at moving the goalposts? You’re saying there were guys available at that draft pick that “could have helped”. Helped what? Lead a hip hop cheerleading section? Or help lose more games? Who was available that you think would have moved the needle on our bench play that year, and by how much?

              • Mexiballer

                Of course there were players that could help at the 20th pick. There will always be players that can help at 20. Especially with the mediocre team that the Raptors were when they drafted Bruno. JS already mentioned names above.

                • Gavin MacPherson

                  The Raptors won at a 54 win pace in the 62 games between the Rudy Gay trade and drafting Bruno so they were not a mediocre team.

                • Mexiballer

                  Yes…their record was more then mediocre but IMO my opinion they were a still mediocre team. They out performed and over achieved in a very weak division with a very weak schedule.

                  Masai cleaned house after the playoff sweep to Washington because he saw they were a mediocre team and had to get better.

                • Gavin MacPherson

                  After the Gay trade the Raptors were 4th in wins, 9th in offensive rating, 10th in defensive rating, 7th in margin of victory. Check out the definition of mediocre, clearly doesn’t apply.

                • Mexiballer

                  I remember all of that. We can agree to disagree on whether or not the Raptors needed help for the bench and could have used their first round pick to add some real depth.

                  IMO Cabloco was a terrible pick st 20 in the situation they were in.

            • Gavin MacPherson

              He was among the team leaders per-minute in every category that wasn’t scoring or assists and the team performed significantly better at both ends when he played. Why on earth would anyone think that’s good, right?

              • justsayin

                The point is that there were areas on the roster that needed to be addressed. That’s pretty much the case for every team every year. In the summer of 2014 they were lacking size at the SF position and they lacked size up front. They also needed scoring off the bench. Congratulations to Tyler Hansbrough for a job well done, but those are facts.

              • RapFan3009

                Wow…this is such a revelation. Hansbrough was among the team leaders per minute except scoring and assists. If thats the case Masai should have kept him then….duh

      • Mexiballer

        I will stick with “the Raptors bench was weak” when Bruno was drafted. I remember draft night well and how many subsequent posts I made on RR because I felt the Bruno pick was so bad given the lack of depth on the team. Your article inadvertently makes the argument that because of Bruno’s lack of experience, the bar should be set lower. That expectations should be just as low so that we hold his evaluation to a different lower standard somehow.

        But this is the NBA. Not a basketball nursery school. In year three Bruno needs to be held to a similar standard of any other “raw” NBA players in their third year.

        The problem here is that when Bruno was drafted he was beyond raw. He was super raw. Super raw to the point that it never justified using the 20th pick on him especially when the Raptors were in such great need of some depth and a more promising player to develop.

        I personally am fine with it now. It’s done and we have a real bench now. But I do believe this should be his do or die year to prove himself. If he is still nowhere near ready to play at least some meaningful spot minutes for the big team next season I don’t see why we sould continue to invest in him.

        Are you really willing to give him until he’s 27 years old? 8 years to develop him?

        If that happened it really would be basketball nursery school.

        • Gavin MacPherson

          You can stick with one of the most productive benches in the league being weak all you want but you’re wrong. The Raptors were 3rd in bench scoring in Bruno’s rookie year so they clearly didn’t need the immediate help that you’re imagining.

          • Mexiballer

            Yes I will stick with it. I remember the team well and how weak the division and our over all schedule was too. Numbers don’t always tell the whole story especially if you’re doing a full and proper evaluation.

            As exciting as that season was for all of us, it was also a bit of fools gold. I completely believed at the time that Raptors bench was weak. And I believe looking at it now most reasonable Raptors fans would say the same.

            The truth and reality of that hit home hard in the embarrassing first round playoff sweep to Washington Wizards. It was probably the best thing that happened to this team, exposing the weakest players on this team for what they were. Fools gold.

          • justsayin

            At the moment Bruno was drafted they needed immediate help. But they chose avenues other than the draft to address the issues. They couldn’t guard Joe Johnson, they lacked scoring off the bench, and the only guy taller than 6’9″ on the roster was JV.

            If you’re looking at the actual decision to draft Bruno you have to look at the state of the team at the end of the 2014 season. The fact that they added Lou Williams and James Johnson after the fact doesn’t mean it was a good idea to disregard the potential value of a draft pick.

            • Gavin MacPherson

              They didn’t disregard the potential value of a draft pick, they drafted the player they felt had the most value.

              And if you look at the state of the team they addressed every issue they had AND drafted Bruno so what exactly is the problem with the pick? You’re acting like there was some deficiency that the pick and his continued presence on the roster prevents them from addressing but that’s obviously not the case.

              • justsayin

                You don’t think it’d help to have Hood backing up Carroll? Or to have a little more insurance if Carroll gets injured again? You don’t think it’d help to have Capela on the roster after the departure of Biz?

                Have they succeeded despite the fact that their 2014 pick hasn’t played a meaningful minute in the NBA? Yes. But that doesn’t justify the pick or make it a good decision.

                They drafted the player with the most value? The reality is that they drafted a player with zero value for years 1, 2, and probably 3, and maybe 4. He might have long term value that’s yet to materialize. You gotta be clear about that.

                And it wasn’t a smart idea to bet on internal development when they didn’t have control of their own D league team. Bruno’s 1st year was a wash. Imagine if they weren’t able to get 905 going until this year or later????

                • Gavin MacPherson

                  I don’t live in a fantasy world where the present versions of Capela and Hood are just added to the current Raptors team and nothing else changes. You can have fun with your fairy tales but I’m a realist.

                • justsayin

                  What’s with the fairy tales accusation? I never assumed what you say I’m assuming. Plus you seem to have ignored my points entirely. And I’m glad. Have a good night.

        • Bargsgone

          “until he’s 27 years old? 8 years to develop him?” No just half of the Bargs 7 year plan, he should be ready when KYLE leaves … two year under Stackhouse and then he hits the ground running, come hell or high water

          • Mexiballer

            When are you predicting Lowry is leaving?

            • Bargsgone

              in two season to chase a ring

      • Mexiballer

        I can see where your wording may have made it seem more past tense then you meant it to be then you meant it to be.

    • justsayin

      Absolutely. When Bruno was drafted the bench was Vasquez Patterson and Hansbrough. Plus they were playing Ross as an under sized starting small forward. It was clear that they needed to address the SF position somehow as well as get some size in the front court. McGary, Hood and Capella were on my list. Hood played year one and Capella was a revelation at the end of his first season. Either could’ve been playing a role and filling a need for the raptors for the last two years while Bruno has been familiarizing himself with the names of the NBA players and learning English. Like aside from his lack of experience, consider the fact that he didn’t know a word of English!

      • Edward Jamer

        I remember getting sold on Capela as “the right pick” that year. He could have been a decent pick for Toronto, but wasn’t a sure thing by any means.

        Heck, picks made late in the first round are always a crap shoot. Masai decided to take a flyer based on potential and hope the team could help Bruno develop NBA skills. It hasn’t worked yet, and might never work… but everyone knew this was a project going in.

        I can’t help but wonder if Masai was still hedging on a possible rebuild, where the long development time could work out. This was the same year that Lowry almost got traded as part of a team tear-down, right?

        • justsayin

          I think if they had ten minutes between picks instead of the five or whatever it is they may have gone with someone else. Also they overestimated their ability to develop players with fort Wayne being the only D league option.

          He could eventually be something. It’s being portrayed as a calculated risk. But they underestimated some important factors imo. D league affiliation. Language barrier. And experience against even AAU level competition. What if the raps couldn’t have got 905 going until this year? That was a huge risk, man.

  • raps-fan

    Saying that Bruno is a clean slate is just putting a positive spin on the fact that he had barely played any basketball when we drafted him and he had to spend 2 years learning things that most NBA players learn before/during high school

  • keith

    McGary, Hood or Capela would have helped this team beat Cleveland last year in the ECF. Sure they are more productive now (somewhat already showing their limitations) but this team has done quite well despite the bad pick of Bruno.

    Even though I never liked the pick, I do like the kid and believe he deserves a chance to develop. If he could become at the best a 3rd option for the team, I think a #20 pick is worth that. Even if it takes 4 years to get there. We have all seen higher draft picks do worse than that.

  • RapFan3009

    Bruno…what an enigma he is.

    Seems like this forum has been divided between “defend the bruno pick” and “we should have pick someone else”.

    Personally, since the pick has been made, Bruno has been chosen, and the Front Office seems committed with this project (I commend them for commiting this), therefore I might have just wait and see with this project.

    BUT…..if we can rewind back to that Draft night, I personally would have chose other players (such as Hood, Capela, etc) rather than someone that was a clear project like Bruno, especially considering the roster that we had during that year.

    This Bruno pick can be accepted by some of the fans because during his 2 years period this team were winning basketball games. Can you imagine if this team were playing losing basketball year after year during those 2 years, can the fans accepted the Bruno pick? I doubt it. I bet most fans would be screeming already, calling off Masai’s head for making such a pick.

    I’m not saying Bruno is a bust, his contribution to this team will remain to be seen. BUT….this article suggested that this year we should not expect Bruno to contribute anything for this team, so it means what? Next season? So essentially next year Bruno is at the same starting line as a player with Draft class 2017? I don’t want to sound petty because of this, but it must be nice to be paid Millions of Dollars for 4 years to learn English and learn to play competetive basketball. While other draftees has concerns whether their contract will be extended/ their team option will be picked by their team or not, or they have to play overseas.