67RIEFNS No. 14: The mysterious and unexpected Bruno Caboclo

6 Comments

The NBA is full of talent, personality and suspense. During the offseason, It’s easy to forget how wonderful the league can be. So, I’ve assembled 67 Reasons I’m Excited For Next Season (67RIEFNS). They’ll be presented in no particular order.

I prepared meticulously for the NBA draft.

I watched the college season. I read scouting reports. I watched videos. I studied statistics.

If I were covering the draft, I wanted to do so from a place of knowledge.

Entering draft night, I felt I could credibly analyzing anyone who might go in the first round – meaning I knew several prospects who would fall to the second round. The number of first-round possibilities far exceeds 30 each year. I was confident.

Then, Adam Silver stepped to the podium for the 20th time after beginning the draft and then announcing 19 picks.

“With the 20th pick in the 2014 NBA draft, the Toronto Raptors select Bruno Caboclo from São Paulo, Brazil,” Silver announced. “He last played for Pinheiros in Brazil.”

My thought process:

  • “What did he say?”
  • “WHO?”
  • “Man, I blew it. I guess I wasn’t prepared as I thought.”
  • “Wait, maybe it’s a player I know, but I just didn’t recognize the correct pronunciation of his name.”

For a long time in 2010, I was thoroughly impressed with Xavier Henry while also thinking his name was pronounced like the school in Cincinnati (Zay-vee-er rather than the correct Zah-vee-ay). Maybe I’d made a similar mistake this year.

So, I turned to DraftExpress for more information.

The site ranked Caboclo No. 18. Among international players. Born in 1995.

Who was this kid?

I didn’t feel quite so bad for not seeing him coming. Nearly everybody missed him.

Since, James Herbert of Eye on Basketball and Chris Mannix of Sports Illustrated have written breakdowns of how Toronto discovered and drafted Caboclo.

It’s a case of throwback scouting, where old-fashioned work on the ground gave the Raptors an edge.

If they truly had an edge.

Maybe it Caboclo – the most unexpected first-round pick in recent memory – was a reach. Maybe there’s a reason no public talent evaluator was so high on him.

Or maybe Toronto sees something else nobody else did and will reap the rewards.

I love the idea of the daring risk Raptors general manager Masai Ujiri took. The NBA is a more interesting place when people break the script. Ujiri set fire to the pages.

Will it work? I have no idea. I want it to work. I want teams to be rewarded for thinking unconventionally.

At this point, some of the mystery is gone. It’s just up to Caboclo to play well.

So, there’s plenty of mystery left.

Report: Raptors could get OG Anunoby back during Finals

AP
Leave a comment

The Toronto Raptors are headed to the 2019 NBA Finals, and they are going to need every player on their roster if they want a chance at dethroning the Golden State Warriors.

Forward OG Anunoby has been out since early April after needing an emergency appendectomy. He has not played in the playoffs yet this season, but a new report says the Raptors may be hopeful he could return before the end of this final series.

Via Twitter:

Anunoby Is a useful second-year forward who plays hard on both ends of the floor. Toronto is going to have a hard time matching up with the Warriors defensively, whether Kevin Durant plays or not. Having Anunoby available would help Toronto be more switchable and more adept at taking on some of Golden State’s smaller lineups.

We don’t have a timetable for Anunoby’s potential return yet, but the way the Finals are spaced out (Game 1 is on Thursday, Game 2 is next Sunday) it could help get players healthy and ready.

That could be good news for Kawhi Leonard, who sat out several games this year simply to rest. Leonard has looked a little banged up through these playoffs, as has just about everyone else. The bad news for Toronto is that this time between games could also help the Warriors get Durant ready to play.

Game 1 of the 2019 NBA Finals is on Thursday at 6 p.m. PST in Canada.

Drake gave Nick Nurse another shoulder rub (VIDEO)

Twitter
7 Comments

People are already getting tired of Drake being a prominent figure in the storyline of the Toronto Raptors. They will have to just deal with it for now as Toronto is headed to the 2019 NBA Finals after beating the Milwaukee Bucks in Game 6 of the Eastern Conference Finals on Saturday night.

That said, Drake is actually an ambassador for the Raptors. Some folks seem to forget that.

There was a dust-up during the Eastern Conference Finals about Drake having given Raptors coach Nick Nurse a shoulder rub during Game 4. Bucks coach Mike Budenholzer thought that fans shouldn’t be interacting with members of the coaching staff or players, but the Raptors didn’t seem to think it was that big a deal.

After the Raptors won on Saturday, Drake embraced Nurse yet again, playing off of the initial kerfuffle.

Via Twitter:

Get ready to see more Drake than you’ve ever wanted.

Watch Raptors fans celebrate Finals berth in streets of Toronto (VIDEO)

AP
4 Comments

The Toronto Raptors are headed to their first NBA Finals in franchise history. Kawhi Leonard and Kyle Lowry beat Giannis Antetokounmpo and the Milwaukee Bucks on Saturday night in Game 6 to send them home and push Toronto into the final series of the year against the Golden State Warriors.

Raptors fans, who have been perennially disappointed by teams who were just good enough, naturally found themselves celebrating in the streets of Ontario. Videos of cars honking and people walking through the avenues surfaced on social media, with the whole thing looking like a big party.

Via Twitter:

The Raptors aren’t the most talented team in the Eastern Conference, but they did have the best player in the entire playoffs this season in Leonard. Coach Nick Nurse figured out a way to stop the Bucks by collapsing on Antetokounmpo, and Milwaukee’s shooters went cold at just the wrong time. The rest of the Raptors bench finally gave Leonard some support, and Toronto was able to mount a comeback in the series to push themselves into the NBA finals.

For that, both Toronto and the Raptors fans deserve to be overjoyed with what’s happening right now.

Game 1 of the 2019 NBA Finals will be on Thursday at 6 p.m. PST in Toronto.

Bucks fans greet team, Giannis Antetokounmpo at Milwaukee airport (VIDEO)

Getty
9 Comments

The Milwaukee Bucks season is over. Giannis Antetokounmpo and his supporting cast couldn’t get things done in Game 6 on Saturday night against the Toronto Raptors in Canada. Now it’s Kawhi Leonard who is heading to the 2019 NBA Finals against the Golden State Warriors.

This season was a magical one for Milwaukee, one in which they took the No. 1 overall seed in the Eastern Conference and likely have the league’s MVP in Antetokounmpo.

As you might expect, Bucks fans are happy about that fact, and showed up to the Milwaukee’s Mitchell Airport to greet their returning team.

Via Twitter:

It has to be nice for athletes to get this kind of treatment. Although some may want to just go home and languish in their defeat, the unwavering support of fanatics has to take the bite out of the sting, even if just a little bit.