Wednesday, July 16, 2014

Bruno Caboclo

Bruno Caboclo's stats though his first three games in Las Vegas don't really jump off the page, but that's not really what Summer League is about. Summer League is about getting rookies acclimated to more of an NBA-type atmosphere, giving them a first look at the philosophy and play calls of new their team and showing flashes of what they could do at the next level in a few years. From that perspective, Caboclo has been a revelation.

When you watch him play, the first thing you notice about him are his physical dimensions - 6'9 205 with a 7'7 (!!!) wingspan. The Raptors starting center in Vegas, Hassan Whiteside, is a fairly freakishly proportioned player in his own right, with a 7'5 wingspan ... and he's not nearly as long as their SF! In essence, Toronto has two centers on the floor the entire game, except one of them is a perimeter player who can handle the ball and shoot 3's.

In the first few minutes of their game against the Mavericks this week, Bruno got his hands on a number of balls on the defensive side of the floor. He just cuts off a huge portion of the floor - when he's playing help-side defense, it's as if there's a whole other rim protector out there. Human beings are juts not supposed to be as long and athletic as Bruno. It's like the Raptors smuggled the NBA 2K14 create-a-player function into real life.

His offense is still very much a work in progress and you can see why Fran Fraschilla famously said he was "two years away from being two years away" on draft night. Nevertheless, you can also see the ball-handling and shooting ability for a guy his size and I even saw him drain a step-back 3 at one point. When you are watching a young guy for the first time, that's the kind of play that makes you sit up and take notice because there's just no way to defend it.

In terms of length, speed and athleticism, Bruno is as impressive as anyone whose come into the league in the last few years. From a physical perspective, the only guys who made a similar impression on me the first time I saw them play were Giannis, Joel Embiid and Andre Drummond. In a league full of people with top 1% athletic ability, those three are in the top 1% of the top 1%. And if you are going to bet on something, you can do a lot worse than that.

At this stage in his career, it's hard to say how good he will end up being and the "Brazilian Kevin Durant" stuff may end up unfairly hanging over him. You don't want to compare anyone to KD because that type of consistency as a shooter and ball-handler at 6'11+ is pretty much completely unprecedented. Here's the crazy part, though - Bruno is the first guy whose ever had the physical ability to contest KD's shot and play a step off him.

If you want to play good defense on any perimeter player, the first step is to put a guy whose longer and more athletic on him. There's no one who fits that category for KD in the NBA, at least until now. That alone makes Bruno Caboclo an incredibly interesting prospect - he's a SF with the potential to protect the rim like a C. The two most important things a team needs  in the modern NBA are floor spacing and interior defense and he has them in spades.

Even if Bruno's offensive game never takes a step forward, he's still going to have a long NBA career as a two-way frontcourt player who can give his team a ton of line-up versatility. He probably needs a lot of time in the D-League to refine his game, but there's no real ceiling to how good he can be. A SF with a 7'7 wingspan fundamentally alters the geometry of the floor. In and of itself, that's probably worth a Top 20 pick.

1 comment:

  1. Than ks very much for this analysis. Much appreciated. Knowledgeable, yes. But also positive. Not the "critic who needs to be critical" sort of narcissism. You have to love that. Kudos. :)