On Thursday night at the Barclay’s Center in Brooklyn, NY, the endless mock drafts finally ended, and the countless hours of pre-draft analysis went out the window when the Toronto Raptors chose unknown small forward Bruno Caboclo with the 20th overall pick in the 2014 NBA Draft.
Hoping to add ”the best player available” according to GM Masai Ujiri‘s pre-draft strategy, the 6-foot-9 Caboclo hails from Brazil, where he’s commonly known as ”the Brazilian Kevin Durant”. But at best, the few scouts who’ve actually seen the newest Raptor refer to the small forward as a ”project”, who is still a few years shy of even attempting an NBA career.
Considered as a late second-round selection prior to the draft, Caboclo was most notably named as the MVP of the 2013 Basketball Without Borders Americas Camp, but other than that, very little is known about the 18-year-old who is now on the mind of Raptors fans everywhere.
As Toronto’s turn at the podium began to get closer and Canadian Tyler Ennis remained on the board, it’s likely that many fans didn’t dare to let themselves dream of the talented guard in purple and black, a wise decision in hindsight.
Moments prior to the selection, former Rodney Hood was listed as the best player available by veteran analyst Jay Bilas, and Ujiri’s strategy was expected to follow that type of thinking regardless of any needs that the team may have wished to address.
Numerous prospects with serious potential such as Kyle Anderson, P.J. Hairston, Mitch McGary and Shabazz Napier were available at the time of the Raptors’ now potentially historic selection, and any one of those four would’ve made far more sense for the team than the European longshot who will forever be remembered as Ujiri’s first draft pick in Toronto.
If you count yourself as a devout and knowledgeable citizen of the Raptors Nation, than it’s safe to say that names like Aleksandar Radojevic, Remon Van de Hare, Albert Miralles, Roko Ukic and Uros Slokar have already come to mind: All busts, all European, and all drafted by the Raptors.
And of course, it’s already been a tough day, so we’ll leave Rafael Araujo and Andrea Bargnani out of this for now.
In no way whatsoever is this a slight toward European basketball players. The NBA is loaded with international talent for a reason, but it’s important to point out the franchise’s horrible history with European players who they’ve drafted in the past. Outside of Jonas Valanciunas and even Bargnani, Toronto has never successfully developed a rookie from overseas themselves.
Other than the fact that Caboclo isn’t likely to even wear a uniform for a couple of years, drafting someone as underdeveloped as the Brazilian is reported to be, especially when the team has needs that could have been addressed, is the height of stupidity for a growing franchise. It is a decision that Ujiri may ultimately regret.
Ty is an NBA writer for RantSports.com. Follow him on Twitter @abovethefoldTy.