Caboclo No Man Of Mystery To Ujiri, Raptors

Young Brazilian forward prospect on team's radar since 2013
(Photo: João Pires/LNB)

Raptors.com - Holly MacKenzie

Toronto Raptors fans have two new players to get familiar with over this offseason. In Thursday’s draft, the Raptors selected Brazilian forward Bruno Caboclo with the 20th overall pick and Connecticut’s DeAndre Daniels with the 37th pick. 

Masai Ujiri surprised everyone with his first draft pick as Raptors general manager by taking Caboclo. Just 18 years old, Caboclo is listed at 6-foot-9 and 205 pounds. He played 16 games for Pinheiros (San Paulo) this season where he averaged 4.9 points and 3.1 rebounds. He was the Most Valuable player at the 2013 Basketball Without Borders Americas. 

“Bruno is an athletic phenomenon,” Raptors head coach Dwane Casey said. “He’s raw, but he’s going to be a guy that is 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 shots with his length.”

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When it became clear that Syracuse point guard Tyler Ennis was not going to be available for the Raptors — Phoenix drafted him with the 18th pick— Toronto decided to act on Caboclo at 20, despite planning on selecting him with their 37th pick rather than risk someone else scooping him up.

“With these things you start to hear different things and it’s so hard to trade to get picks,” Ujiri said. “When you start to hear the guy could be gone at certain places — we started to hear late first round — sometimes it gets frustrating where you don’t get the picks and you lose a guy. That happened to us earlier. So, we felt OK, if he is second on our board, then let’s get aggressive. He’s a few years away but he’s a talent that I think at the end of the day we will be happy that we picked him.”

Casey said he met with Caboclo in Houston, while Ujiri made three trips to see him play. He complimented his athleticism, compared his 7-foot-6 wingspan to that of Denver Nuggets centre JaVale McGee and spoke about the potential he has.

“At 20 you’re not going to get a perfect player, but this young man has a chance to make it big,” Casey said.

While Caboclo hasn’t worked out for any NBA teams, the Raptors felt confident in taking a chance on him after visiting him to see him play numerous times.

“For me, I said I would go with the best talent available and we did our due diligence,” Ujiri said. “I was in Brazil three times. Our scouts went a few times so we felt comfortable.

“Our scouts have done a great job. We try to look for talent around the world. Basketball Without Borders, first, he was MVP of that camp and we just kept tracking. There was a tournament in Brazil in December and a couple of our scouts went and they thought he was intriguing enough. They came back, told us and I went down to see him.”

Caboclo is expected to arrive in Toronto on Saturday to workout and address the media. Ujiri expects him to suit up at the Las Vegas Summer League, but emphasized it is the 18 year old’s potential that is most intriguing.

"He knows we are going to develop him and we’re going to take our time,” Ujiri said. “It’s a learning curve. We’ll take that time and wait for him to develop, rather than sometimes these guys are picked too high and the expectations are higher. It’s going to take Bruno a while but I’m sure when you see see him you will feel the excitement that we feel. Having a young player like that, that loves to work, that is a basketball junkie, that just loves to play basketball all day. I think that will be fun for our team, another player like that.”

Raptors Add Proven Winner In Daniels

DeAndre Daniels is a 6-foot-9, 195-pound forward who helped lead the Connecticut Huskies to a national championship this year. He averaged 16 points and 7.2 rebounds in six NCAA Tournament games and was named to the All-Final Four team. 

“At the end of the day, everybody wants a winner on their team,” Daniels told local media after his pre-draft workout in Toronto. “Someone who knows what it takes to win and what you need to sacrifice as a team to win games and win a championship. It’s a great thing to have under your belt.”

The team selected San Diego State University’s Xavier Thames with the 59th pick, but traded his rights to the Brooklyn Nets for cash considerations.