The Raptors are a very well managed franchise – one of the few teams in the league with talent to win now (ranking in the top five in wins last season) while also possessing a number of prospects who could maintain them relevant without a significant drop-off when Kyle Lowry and DeMarre Carroll decline as they enter their 30s.
The downside is that those younger players don’t have a clear path to regular playing time. Even Norman Powell, who earned a rotation spot late in the season and got some postseason experience as well, really only logged 725 minutes in his first year. Delon Wright, an older rookie who looked ready to step in right away, appeared in just 27 games due to Cory Joseph’s presence.
As a consequence, Toronto ended up sending these two to Summer League, which elevated the level of competitiveness of the team, which went 4-1 in Las Vegas, only losing in the semifinals because it blew an eight-point lead entering the fourth quarter. But the issue with having two overqualified guys at Summer League is that it takes opportunity away from other prospects to try expanding their skill-sets in a competitive environment.
Specifically speaking, that opportunity was taken away from Bruno Caboclo. With Wright and Powell running offense throughout the week, the 20-year-old played the exact same role he had in the D-League last season, which was as a weak-side spot-up shooter who didn’t have any plays run for him.
Caboclo parked in the corners throughout the week, with three-point shots accounting for 31 of his 47 attempts from the field in Vegas.
He has not shown to improve much since the end of the season. Caboclo remains a capable open-shot shooter, nailing 35.5% of his shots from beyond the arc, but a gunner who struggles when an opponent rushes his release, as he pulls the trigger rather methodically still.
Caboclo flashed some ability to make shots on the move – once out of screening for the pick-and-pop and one other jogging around a screen, setting his feet quickly and letting it fly in balance. But Toronto didn’t give him many opportunities to check if that’s a skill that can be truly counted on.
Attacking closeouts, Caboclo showed once again he’s not particularly explosive off the bounce but has strength in his 218-pound frame to maintain his balance through contact and get into the lane. He did not finish as well in traffic as he had in the D-League, unable to attack length at the rim with any burst (even out of one foot) or score well enough on non-dunk finishes, as he shot seven-for-16 on two-pointers.
From a team offense-standpoint, Caboclo rarely caught-and-held the ball and proved himself very willing to make the extra pass around the perimeter. But he once again showed he’s not particularly instinctive as a cutter, very rarely diving baseline to the basket, which is disappointing considering he’s flashed the ability to play above the rim as a target for lobs running the break in transition a couple of times.
Caboclo took a few guys one-on-one here and there and found himself with the ball in his hands late in the shot clock a few times as well. On those instances, he looked about the same as he had in the D-League; his handle is good enough for him to get a mid-range jumper off or for him to dribble his way into a quick post-up but he doesn’t have any shiftiness to shake opponents side-to-side to get dribble penetration and is prone to getting the ball stripped from him in traffic – turning it over on 20.1% of his possessions, according to RealGM.
Caboclo’s long strides were not as affective against this caliber of competition as they were in the D-League, failing to get around Patrick McCaw and David Laury on grab-and-go’s and unable to get by Adreian Payne on a switch more than once.
Caboclo showed willingness to pass on the move but can only identify open teammates when they are evident at this point of his development, as his six assists in five appearances reflect.
Caboclo mostly guarded the corners as well in Vegas, as the Summer League team didn’t experiment with having him play some center as the D-League team did towards the end of the season. Caboclo didn’t even play power forward, as Pascal Siakam and EJ Singler were tasked with guarding interior players for most of the minutes Caboclo was on.
As a weak-side defender, Caboclo proved attentive to his help responsibilities. As a function of his role, he does not disrupt a ton of plays in the passing lanes (which is disappointing considering his length) but makes rotations where his massive standing reach makes a difference contesting shots at the rim. His contribution on the glass is significant as well, as he collected 15.5% of opponents’ misses when he was on the floor.
Caboclo is only so-so closing out to shooters, though. I thought he didn’t have enough closing speed to run guys off the three-point line but he did it a couple of times (albeit with iffy balance, allowing a path for dribble penetration into the lane), which then makes you wonder why doesn’t he succeed at it more often. Nonetheless, his length is a great asset to contest these outside shots effectively.
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