Not only was Bruno Caboclo a relative unknown to many NBA insiders, but according to Dwane Casey, the 18-year-old Brazilian was a player only a handful of teams knew anything about.
The Raptors head coach joined TSN 1050 to shed some light on the team's surprise selection and defend the criticism of the pick by ESPN analyst Fran Fraschilla who described Caboclo as being a player that was “two years away from being two years away.”
“Which is totally untrue.” Casey said of the criticism. “He is a basketball player. He has NBA skills, but he's just raw.
“This is a young man that's going to go through our program, develop and if this young man hits, we've got something special.”
Admitting Masai Ujiri was initially set on taking Toronto-native Tyler Ennis, before Phoenix nabbed him two picks prior, Casey commented that the GM felt like his team couldn't wait on taking the teenager with their second round pick because they felt like the Jazz and Suns, who had the 23rd and 27th selections respectively, would have scooped him up.
“Originally we wanted to take Tyler Ennis and that was going to be our first pick at 20,” Casey said. “We had heard rumours that either Utah or Phoenix down behind us was going to take Bruno, so that's just when we moved him up and took him at 20.”
To scout the Brazilian, Casey headed down to Houston for a pre-draft workout with Ujiri, who went out of his way to keep the visit under the radar, not revealing to his coach which player he was set to scout until he got off the plane.
Casey, along with Ujiri came away impressed with what they saw, with the head coach saying Caboclo reminded him of another teenager who came to the league straight out of high school and who would later develop into an all-star forward: Rashard Lewis.
“He's got the athletic talent, the wingspan – he's got the same wingspan as Javhale McGee – he's athletic, has defensive ability, defensive instincts, he can shoot the three ball.”
Casey: Caboclo raw, but could be special