Surprise first-round pick Bruno Caboclo excited for NBA chance
Although he was named the Raptors' general manager one month before the 2013 draft, Masai Ujiri didn't get a chance to select a player because Toronto had no picks. Ujiri made a splash this year, however, surprising the basketball world by using the No. 20 choice on 18-year-old Brazilian small forward Bruno Caboclo, a largely unknown prospect.
Ujiri said the 6-foot-9, 200-pound Caboclo projects to be a solid defender because of his length (7-7 wingspan) and mobility, though he needs to add strength. The youngster also likes to shoot, according to Ujiri, and has deep range on his jump shot.
"He has a chance to hit it big," Toronto coach Dwane Casey told reporters after the draft. "He's probably one of the most athletic guys in the draft -- in fact, I know he is."
Caboclo is expected to play for the Raptors at the Las Vegas Summer League, which begins on July 11.
"This summer is about learning," Ujiri said. "He is a basketball junkie."
Caboclo recently answered a few questions from SI.com:
SI.com: How would you describe yourself to NBA fans?
Bruno Caboclo: I love to play basketball. That is all I want to do. I like to play defense, and I like to score. I’m a three-point shooter. I just want to help Toronto.
SI.com: What needs the most improvement?
Caboclo: Everything. I need to work on my overall game. I need to get stronger.
SI.com: Do you expect to play in the NBA this season?
Caboclo: Yes. That is what I hope.
SI.com: How do you plan to prepare for the NBA?
Caboclo: I want to work hard with the coaches and also get stronger.
SI.com: How long have you been playing basketball?
Caboclo: Since I was 13. I was 5-foot-10. I first dunked when I was 14.
SI.com: Were you surprised to be picked No. 20?
Caboclo: I didn’t think about the number. A number of teams showed interest so I didn’t know what to expect.
SI.com: Did you admire a certain player growing up?
Caboclo: I like Kevin Durant. He has the same body as me and I try to copy his game. He is my idol.
SI.com: What would you say to the people who believe the Raptors drafted you too high?
Caboclo: I’m aware I’m coming to a tough league and I’m only 18. With hard work, I hope to cut down the wait and contribute to the team.
SI.com: What are you most looking forward to about being in the NBA?
Caboclo: To play and compete against the best players in the world.