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

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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.