Watching Bruno Caboclo in summer league last year, it was hard to understand what’s the appeal. Yes, it was evident he is a tall and long wing but just as evident he had nothing to show for in terms of skill level and feel for the game at that point.
But after Toronto acquired its own D-League franchise and stashed him there all season, providing him 1,270 minutes in 37 appearances of experience, the picture is a bit clearer now. The 20-year-old still looks a while away from becoming a rotation player in the NBA but we were at least able to see some semblance of what that player could look like at the next level.
Caboclo is still a weak-side player at this point of his development.
Despite flashing the ability to play above the rim as a target for lobs filling the lanes in transition, he wasn’t that sort of threat in the half-court, as he has not shown to be a particularly instinctive cutter.
Caboclo is also not yet the sort of shooter who can shoot on the move, working off staggered screens or screening in the pick-and-pop, so most of his offense comes on spot-up catch-and-shoot three-point shots. Attempts from beyond the arc accounted for 53% of his shot profile last season and he was assisted on 90% of his makes.
Caboclo’s release looks a bit quicker than it was the year before but it’s still somewhat methodical and he remains only an average open-shot shooter at best, as his accuracy suffers when opponents rush his shot. According to nbadleague.com, he nailed just 33.3% of his 96 corner threes and 33.8% of his 157 above the break threes.
Caboclo proved able to get to the rim attacking closeouts and off a live dribble. He continues not to be a particularly explosive player but has long strides to get around just about anyone if such defender closes out to him off balance and can finish at the basket with power elevating out of one foot.
Caboclo has also proven able to get to the rim in isolation on straight-line drives, possessing strength in his 218-pound frame to maintain his balance through contact. He’s flashed nice touch on non-dunk finishes against length protecting the front of the basket, having just seven of his 122 shots within five feet blocked and converting such attempts at a 65.6% clip, with 57.5% of them unassisted.
But against stronger and longer defenders, Caboclo has not yet developed a lot of skill to shake them out of the way. He flashed a sweet crossover dribble into a spin move once but other than that has not shown much shiftiness going side-to-side, can’t change speeds or stop-and-start in a pinch.
Caboclo is a capable one- or two-dribble pull-up shooter (34.4% shooting on 61 attempts from mid-range) when he’s able to step into his shot in a slow rhythm but is not yet able to stop on a dime and elevate in balance after several dribbles, meaning that when he lowers his shoulders the opponent can know he’s going to try forcing his way to the basket.
Caboclo has not shown to be a particularly instinctive passer out of dribble penetration and was not given many opportunities to operate in the pick-and-roll, assisting on just 7% of 905’s scores when he was on the floor last season – according to RealGM. He improved his handle some and his turnover rate declined in comparison to his appearances with Fort Wayne a couple of seasons ago and in last year’s summer league but remains prone to getting the ball stripped in traffic due to his high dribble.
Caboclo has a lot of potential to be an impact player on defense due to his combination of physical profile and athletic ability, and the Raptors have finally saw steps in the right direction from him on that end last season.
905 switched on screens a good deal towards the end of the season and Caboclo proved able to hang with smaller players in isolation. He can bend his knees to get in a stance, can contain dribble penetration through contact and keep pace on straight-line drives to block shots from behind at the rim with his remarkably long arms.
Caboclo still struggles defending the pick-and-roll, though, often getting stuck on screens and dying on the play. He is probably too big to try navigating over these picks.
The Raptors also experimented with him at center late in the season, with Lucas Nogueira back in Toronto and Ronald Roberts gone from the team, and Caboclo flashed very intriguing potential as a rim protector, able to elevate out of two feet to block shots when guards drove at him stepping into the front of the rim and out of a standstill position after holding ground in low post defense, averaging two blocks per 40 minutes.
As a weak-side defender, Caboclo is very effective contesting outside shots due to his length. Despite that very appealing seven-foot-seven wingspan, his contributions through steals were marginal, though he did make an impact on the glass by collecting almost 16% of opponents’ misses.
Editor’s Note: Rafael Uehara is the managing editor of ‘Basketball Scouting’. More of his work can be found here or at Upside & Motor and at RealGM, where he is a regular contributor. He can be followed on twitter as @rafael_uehara