February 1, 2019, 7:10 pm
Welcome back, Hoop Ballers, to our International Spotlight weekly feature where we will be revisiting emerging Brazilian forward Bruno Caboclo, the newest member of the Grizzlies on a 10-day contract who has put a couple impressive performances on display already.
Mike Conley wasn’t quite sure of the name of his new teammate when he debuted with Memphis last week and we wouldn’t blame him as, through four seasons and two franchises (Raptors and Kings), Caboclo has played in just 35 NBA games, spending most of his time in the G-League and the Rockets’ affiliate, the Rio Grande Valley Vipers this year.
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“Two Years Away From Being Two Years Away”
The Raptors made little-known Bruno Caboclo the No. 20 overall pick in the 2014 NBA Draft after he stood out at the Basketball without Borders camp in Brazil in 2013, earning MVP honors. The pick was so off-board, it caused ESPN college basketball expert Fran Fraschilla to proclaim how “he’s two years away from being two years away,” a phrase that would long stick to the youngster.The Caboclo team reportedly didn’t want to be stashed so the agreement was that he would spend the beginning of his career on the bench, getting mentored by the vets and practicing with them while at the same time being integrated into North American society, learning the language and adding some much needed weight.
To criticize Caboclo’s production in Toronto is unfair. He endured a horrific rookie year which did little to improve his skills but don’t forget that prior to the 2015-16 season, the Raptors did not have a G League team and shared the Fort Wayne Mad Ants with 11 other NBA franchises. They had no influence on the coaching staff and the development of their players, while the Mad Ants were more concerned with winning than developing Caboclo, who played a mere 62 minutes in 8 games as the assignment proved difficult and isolating.
A sophomore season was expected to be easier with Raptors 905 in place and his overall G League stats did show progress as the minutes were there, but he played in just 116 minutes with the Raptors before being traded to the Kings last February.
What We’ve Seen So Far
Bruno is an outstanding physical specimen, standing at 6’9” with a 7’7” wingspan. The word “upside” was written all over him due to his impressive wingspan, his broad shoulders, his big hands and long legs. On top of thait he is also a good leaper with explosive jumping ability, an athlete who runs the court like a guard, while his fluidity helps him take advantage of slower and less athletic players. He is a complete nightmare guarding the inbounds and with all the athleticism in the world his defensive ability is what makes him stand out. Look at how he denies Andrew Wiggins on back to back possessions either coming from the weak side or rejecting him straight up on a dunk attempt.
Bruno has long been able to establish himself as an exceptional offensive rebounder, averaging a career-high 2.5 per gamer this season in the G-League by using solid awareness, which he was able to develop in recent years, and his ridiculous athleticism. Opponents often forget to put a body on him and he’s able to easily manufacture putback opportunities every time he hits the glass. Look at how flawlessly he scores by attacking the glass from the corner after a missed Marc Gasol triple.
Caboclo’s natural position is probably small forward since he is fluid enough to stay on the perimeter and he lacks the power to be effective as a four at the NBA level, but he still struggles against quicker opponents. This has been a major point of emphasis at the NBA level as Bruno has lacked the necessary concentration to stick to his defender and often thinks he can recover with his length and athleticism. Here is a bad defensive possession where he got too close to Karl-Anthony Towns, allowing him to blow past and score with the easy dunk on a game-tying possession.
This Year’s G-League Transformation
Before signing with Memphis, Bruno was in the middle of a breakthrough season in the G-League, developing into one of the league’s best 3-and-D players and finally putting the complete package on display while averaging 16.4 points, 7.1 rebounds, 1.2 steals and 3.0 blocks on 52 percent from the field and 43 percent from beyond the 3-point line. What really made the difference was the 3-point shooting as he evolved from a streaky shooter who struggled with consistency to a reliable solution beyond the arc, converting on 68 out of 159 triples. Caboclo has a great natural touch but his form finally looks fluid and it remains to be seen whether he can maintain the confidence in his shot. Look at him launching this off-balance catch-and-shoot three from the corner after a nice offensive possession by his teammates where the ball moves around.
The Grizzlies appear to have given him the green light to shoot from anywhere on the floor as he has attempted 3, 4, 6 and 5 triples in four games so far even though he has only converted in 28 percent of them. Shot selection has always been questionable and he should develop better habits as he learns the game more but I believe Bruno is at the point where he understands that he can’t let his shot affect the rest of his game. At the end of the 3rd quarter against the Pacers he was able to hit a crucial triple but he managed to stay focused and run back all the way to alter Cory Joseph’s shot as the time expired.
Defense the Biggest Question Mark
The Brazilian forward has been a defensive menace in the G-League this year and he is expected to easily win the Defensive Player of the Year award since he is averaging 3.0 blocks and 1.2 steals per game. He has shown tremendous defensive versatility as he can switch on pick-and-rolls, guard all positions, protect the rim and provide help defense. Look at how he uses his length to come out of a weak screen and disrupt one of the top shooters in the game in Bojan Bogdanovic, who is clearly surprised and launches a brick as the time expires.
1-on-1 defense, though, is still a work in progress as even though he has all the makings of a good defender with his length and athleticism, he often has to deal with the best athletes in the world that blow past him. Look at Andrew Wiggins easily creating separation against the Brazilian forward but opting for the long jumper instead of driving to the lane. This is an interesting possession where the blame has to fall more on Memphis’ coaching staff that decided to put Bruno on such a tough assignment that also led to the team missing the rebound and allowing KAT to beat them at the buzzer.
Upside Turning Into Cash Counters
Coboclo was the ultimate swing for the fences type of pick, similar to taking a promising high school player who lacks any real experience or polish but the truth is he never developed as teams had hoped. Here’s what Masai Ujiri had to say after the Raptors shipped him to Sacramento last year at the trade deadline.
“It was difficult for us, because I just thought it was time. On the part of talent, I think we got that part right. He is a real talented kid. But in the process we got the D-League team a couple of years later and it’s a question from me whether he should have stayed over.”
His progress this year has been undeniable and there is definitely hope as Jermaine O’Neal averaged only 11 minutes per game in his first four years in the NBA before becoming a six-time NBA All-Star. Expectations though should be kept low though as Bruno still struggles to create points for both himself and his teammates, settling for contested jumpers and often stoping the dribble too early, causing the offense to become stagnant.
With the uncertainly currently surrounding the Grizzlies I would definitely pick up Bruno in deeper leagues as the minutes have already been there and the team looks committed to developing their young players.
Hope you enjoyed reading this article and please free to reach out to me on Twitter @philysstar for any fantasy or dynasty trade talk. With the trade deadline rapidly approaching stay up to date on all the breaking news and rumors posted on our website and on our Twitter account @HoopBallFantasy.
Stats are courtesy of NBA.com and Basketball-Reference.com and are accurate as of February 1st .
May 26, 2019, 11:19 amMichael Porter Jr. - F - Denver Nuggets
As a symptom from his back surgeries, Michael Porter Jr. developed drop foot, and will wear to a leg brace to help stabilize it when he makes his professional debut in Summer League according to Mike Singer of the Denver Post.
Drop foot makes it hard for one to lift the front part of their foot and is a common symptom of back related ailments, of which Porter Jr. has had two surgeries to address over the last year and a half. Porter Jr. remains an unknown commodity with a laundry list of health concerns as an NBA player. There has been some recent success with young guys being able to bounce back in big ways after suffering year-long injuries, but Porter Jr. will remain a mystery until we see him on the court for his inaugural season.
Source: The Denver Post
May 26, 2019, 11:04 amJonas Valanciunas - C - Memphis Grizzlies
Jonas Valanciunas said that he wants to see who the Memphis Grizzlies hire as their next Head Coach before deciding on his $17.6 million player option according to Donatas Urbonas.
Valanciunas saw his role increase in Memphis after being traded from Toronto, and actually played to compete with the Grizz trying to win enough games to convert their, at the time, low-end lottery pick to Boston. Valanciunas made it clear that he doesn't want to return to Memphis if their plans are to pivot to a rebuild and not compete again next year, saying, "I want to know, how we gonna look in 82 games. I don't want to be a tourist. I want to win.". The Hoop Ball favorite will be hard pressed to find a situation that will give him as much run, and fantasy value, as Memphis did, making this a decision fantasy owners everywhere should monitor.
Source: Dontas Urbonas on Twitter
May 26, 2019, 10:06 amKawhi Leonard - F - Toronto Raptors
Kawhi Leonard held Giannis Antetekounmpo to just .353 shooting from the floor with an offensive rating of 89.4 when guarding him in the Eastern Conference Finals.
This is needed to emphasize just how dominant of a defensive player Leonard really is. For reference, Giannis shot .578 from the floor with an offensive rating of 121 through the regular season. A total swing of nearly 23 percent and 32 less points per 100 possessions is preposterous for any player, especially an MVP caliber offensive juggernaut in Antetokounmpo. Keep these numbers in mind as the debate over Leonard being the league's best player continues to heat up.
Source: Micha Adams on Twitter
May 26, 2019, 1:17 amKawhi Leonard - F - Toronto Raptors
Kawhi Leonard posted a monster line in Saturday's 100-94 Game 6 win, scoring 27 points with 17 rebounds, seven assist, two steals, two blocks and six turnovers.
Leonard put the Raptors on his back and carried them into their first NBA Finals appearance. After losing the first two games of the Eastern Conference Finals the Raptors stormed back to take the next four to seal the series. Kawhi has been simply marvelous for this team and found a way to crank it up another notch, averaging almost 30 points per game this series. He was all over the court this game and dominated the Bucks from inside the paint. A 4th quarter dunk over Giannis Antetokounmpo punctuated this dominance and sent the hometown crowd in a frenzy. The Raptors will try to keep their hot streak going as they face the Warriors in the NBA Finals.
May 26, 2019, 1:14 amGiannis Antetokounmpo - F - Milwaukee Bucks
While Giannis Antetokounmpo will be eligible for a five-year supermax contract worth over $247 million, ESPN's Malika Andrews is reporting that the 2020 playoff run could swing whether or not Antetokounmpo stays with the Bucks long-term.
The Bucks have three of their starters and two key bench pieces heading into free agency this summer, so they might have to make some bold choices to keep the necessary parts around while also improving the team on a budget. It's possible that this is the Antetokounmpo camp's way of encouraging Milwaukee to empty the wallet and keep the current group together, but it goes against what Giannis has said publicly about the team and city from day one. The Bucks were eliminated mere hours ago but we're already having this conversation. The NBA news cycle is perpetual.
May 26, 2019, 12:59 amKyle Lowry - G - Toronto Raptors
Kyle Lowry posted a solid line in Saturday's Game 6 win scoring 17 points while adding five rebounds, eight assists, three 3-pointers, one steal and only one turnover.
After a pedestrian series against the 76ers, Lowry stepped it up against the Bucks, averaging almost 20 points per game in the Eastern Conference Finals. He did a great job making smart plays for the Raptors and they will need him to continue to operate at this high level as they head off into the NBA Finals next week.
May 26, 2019, 12:48 amMarc Gasol - C - Toronto Raptors
Marc Gasol scored six points, all from behind the arc, in Saturday's Game 6 win, adding three rebounds, two assists and a block/steal in 26 minutes.
Gasol continues to do what the Raptors ask of him though the years of grinding in the paint for Memphis are long gone. He has adjusted his game play and now acts as a facilitator for the rest of the team. Gasol continues to split time in the post with Serge Ibaka (25 minutes, nine points) and will see his minutes fluctuate based on the Raptor's offensive scheme heading into the NBA Finals.
May 26, 2019, 12:24 amFred VanVleet - G - Toronto Raptors
Fred VanVleet was a difference maker for the Raptors' series clinching Game 6, scoring 14 points off the bench on 5-for-6 shooting while adding two assists.
VanVleet played 34 minutes off the bench and continues to be a menace from behind the 3-point line (4-for-5 today). In the past three games he has gone an unbelievable 14-for-17 from behind the arc. The Raptors will continue to rely on his ability to stretch the floor as they head into their first NBA Finals and will square off against the Warriors and their own formidable shooters.
May 26, 2019, 12:08 amGiannis Antetokounmpo - F - Milwaukee Bucks
Giannis Antetokounmpo scored 21 points in Saturday's Game 6 loss while contributing 11 rebounds, four assists, two steals, three blocks and two turnovers.
Antetokounmpo did all that was asked of him on both sides of the ball but could not get past the Raptors this series. Giannis continues to operate at an MVP-level but his freethrow woes continue to plague him. He was "Shaq-esque" this series (55%) and shot 5-for-10 in tonight's loss. This is a tough break for Antetokounmpo and the Bucks as they head into the offseason with four of their five starters entering free agency.
May 25, 2019, 11:46 pmKhris Middleton - F - Milwaukee Bucks
Khris Middleton scored 14 points in Saturday's Eastern Conference Finals loss adding just four 3-pointers, four rebounds and two turnovers.
All-Star Middleton struggled this entire series as he was tasked with the unenviable task of guarding Kawhi Leonard. He was poised to continue his fabulous playoff success following strong performances against the Pistons and Celtics but failed to deliver this series, with the exception of a 30-point Game 4 loss. Middleton will be a free agent this summer and will be one of the Bucks' top priorities heading into the offseason.