It was, at the same time, remarkably accurate and an unprecedented way for the basketball world to be introduced to a teenager.
“He’s two years away from being two years away,” Fran Fraschilla famously said on the night of the 2014 NBA Draft, right after the Toronto Raptors made an unexpected reach to select a player so raw there was little known of him outside of his enormous wingspan and some grainy highlight footage: Bruno Caboclo.
It made for a great soundbite, and it actually wasn’t far from the truth. In Caboclo, the Raptors were taking a monstrous home run swing with somewhat low odds of coming through. The native of Brazil was hardly even a basketball player yet, unfamiliar with the NBA game outside of Kobe Bryant and inexperienced at any remotely high level of competitive five-on-five play. But he was 6’9 with a 7’7 wingspan that could grow in kind and enough raw tools to make it worth embarking on a grand experiment.
That experiment ended for the Raptors in February, but at a greater philosophical and player development level, it continues on. Last week, it was reported that the Houston Rockets will sign Caboclo to an Exhibit 10 contract, a deal that gives him a chance to make the roster out of camp or, in the more likely scenario, earn a $50,000 bonus to supplement a G League salary if he agrees to become an Affiliate Player with the Rio Grande Valley Vipers after training camp.
“I’m very excited, I think it’s a new chapter,” Caboclo told Uproxx on the phone from Houston this week, listing off the veteran Rockets from whom he’s eager to learn. “I’m a lot more mature right now, and I think I’m gonna learn a lot on this team. Me and my agent, we saw every option, and we thought that Houston was gonna be the best option for me. It’s more betting on my talent and if I don’t sign here, I’m not gonna be stuck in one team. So I’ll just play G League and I can do some numbers there and I can go back to the NBA.”
That’s if he can’t make the roster, though, something he fully intends to do.
“It’s just like a Plan B,” he says with a laugh.