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Meet Bruno Caboclo, Toronto’s Baffling First-Round Pick

The Toronto Raptors targeted Syracuse guard Tyler Ennis in the first round last night. When he went to the Phoenix Suns at No. 18, general manager Masai Ujiri went with the second prospect on his draft board, a player no one had heard of coming into the draft.

When the Raptors selected Bruno Caboclo from Brazil, there was an audible silence in the draft room, on the ESPN panel, and from basketball fans everywhere. Somehow, in an age where mock drafts are churned out on an hourly basis, none of us had Caboclo on the board or had much information about him at all.

Here’s the skinny on the Raptors pick: he’s 6-foot-9, and at 18 years old, is the youngest player taken in this year’s draft. Among prospects born in 1995, he was ranked 18th by Draft Express. Actual basketball footage of Caboclo is scarce, here’s one that we found which doesn’t tell us very much except he has a lot of athletic potential:

Ujiri and head coach Dwane Casey did talk to the media afterwards. Casey tells Eric Koreen of The National Post, he was impressed by what he saw from Caboclo during a pre-draft workout:

The Raptors first noticed him at Basketball Without Borders in 2013, and two Raptors scouts watched Caboclo play at a tournament in Brazil in December. They told Ujiri to check him out, and he flew to Brazil three times to watch him play.

Raptors coach Dwane Casey said he recently saw Caboclo working out in Houston. Casey conceded that only “three or four” teams knew of Caboclo, but they were worried that he would not make it to the 37th pick, which the Raptors eventually used on Connecticut forward DeAndre Daniels.

“Bruno is an athletic phenomenon,” Casey said. “At 20, you’re not going to get a perfect player, but this young man has a chance to hit it big. He’s raw. But he’s going to be a guy that’s going to develop in our program, grow and do a lot of things for us. Defensively, he’s long. He covers a lot of ground down in a stance. He blocks shot with his length.”

And then there’s this:

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The Raptors weren’t the only team who had an eye on Caboclo. It should be noted Ujiri was enamored with Giannis Antetokounmpo‘s raw athleticism in last year’s draft and tried to trade up to select him. Caboclo’s appeal is similar.

According to the Raptors, Caboclo will play in the summer league and join the team for training camp. We’ll get a first-hand look at the most surprising first round pick from last night very soon.

Oh, and there’s this front page of a Toronto newspaper today:

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What do you think?

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