Skepticism of Raptors’ Caboclo Is Justified


By Norm

When the Toronto Raptors selected Bruno Caboclo with the 20th overall pick in  the 2014 NBA Draft, the immediate reaction on Twitter was a mixture of shock, confusion and criticism. Most NBA teams didn’t even know about the lanky Brazilian, let alone the average fan. The quote heard ’round the world came from Fran Fraschilla, who said that Caboclo is “two years away from being two years away” during ESPN’s Draft coverage.

Off the board, to say the least. The initial coverage in the press reflected that sort of cautious skepticism; Doug Smith called Caboclo a “gamble”, while Eric Koreen referred to the pick as “one of the weirdest in first-round history”.

Comparisons to former Raptor Rafael Araujo were almost too easy to make : another raw Brazilian whom the Raptors took, much to most people’s surprise. The fact that Araujo was a clear-cut bust doesn’t help to calm any fears about Caboclo’s place in the NBA.

But a funny thing happened in the days following the Draft. First came Caboclo’s (short) workout at the Raptors practice facility, and all of a sudden, seemingly, everyone was on board with Masai Ujiri’s decision to draft “Bruno”.

  • Ryan Wolstat, Toronto Sun – “[F]ormer NBA executive of the year Masai Ujiri, widely regarded as one of the finest basketball minds on the planet, the guy that pulled off a couple of heists for the Raptors in his first year and did some fine work in Denver before that, probably knows what he is doing, no?”
  • Doug Smith, Toronto Star – “No one knows whether or not the kid can play, no one’s seen him in person, you cannot tell anything from a grainy youtube clip and maybe it’s just best to trust the GM who has seen him and knows a bit more than you or I.”
  • Eric Koreen, National Post – “In a few years time, Ujiri is going to look like a genius or he’s going to seem pretty silly…Still, even if Raptors fans hate the pick, they should admire the process.”

I get the general notion. For one, getting a solid asset at 20 is rare to begin with, so why not go for the home run? And two, given Ujiri’s track record, writers aren’t going to jump to criticize the GM who has already done fine work with the Raptors (after a solid stint in Denver).

But that doesn’t mean criticism and skepticism should be erased by one workout, which might be an inaccurate way to look at it, but is how it looks from the outside. “Bruno”, as he will (hopefully unanimously) be referred to hereafter, is just as “raw” as he was on the night of the draft. Nobody knows if (or how well) he’ll pan out, and just as it would be ignorant to assume the worst, it’s also ignorant to assume the best. I’m not sure Raptors fans will care about the “process”, as Koreen calls it, if Bruno turns into another Araujo.

And as far as Bruno’s development is concerned, there’s a small elephant in the room that nobody seems to be talking about, which is that the Raptors, a team that should be gathering pieces to take a step towards being a perennial contender, chose a “project” player instead of an “instant impact” player. Ujiri is obviously confident enough in the Brazilian to pass over guys like Shabazz Napier, K.J. McDaniels or Clint Capela, all of whom could have helped the team this year. DeMar DeRozan recently stated that the Raptors are “one or two pieces” away from the next level; given the overall weakness of the East, it’s hard to argue. All the more reason to question the draft choice.

Don’t get me wrong. It’s not that I think Masai Ujiri shouldn’t be trusted – I mean, the man managed to get a real basketball player in return for Andrea Bargnani – but it would be foolish to assume nothing but the best, just as it would be foolish to assume the worst.

Let it play out, fine. But given how the Raptors have drafted in the past, a general sense of skepticism is more than justified.

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Darren Johnston
Darren Johnston
July 2, 2014 1:51 pm

So has this website turned into simple blog type posts about the Toronto sports scene? The only reason I came to or even found out about this site was because it was about the media covering the teams?

July 3, 2014 8:20 am

@Darren Ya, me too. Probably not enough traffic just on the media.

July 3, 2014 8:46 am

I think it would be hard to keep content fresh with just media stuff. Unless there are some big shake-ups like a couple of years ago.
By no fault of anybody (except the mailing it in media people), every post goes in the same direction.
Fan590 is more concerned with hosts that troll and yell.
TSN1050 has a niche group of people that like it. THough it is not for everyone.
Bob is lazy, milking money left right and center and generally does not have a clue about sports anymore.
Thankfully the people that run this site do not keep harping on the same issues. To still have content (which has been rare, thank you Mike in Boston for your efforts each week) each day I am guessing he is expanding out. I have no issue with it.

Hopefully something really exciting happens in the toronto media in the next little bit. Or, perhaps more time can be spent on the twitter fights. I liked that it was brought up, but..i wish there would have been more context, as I stopped following most of those types.

Finally, Norm, I think this is your second post. I have enjoyed both. I like the casual way that you write. It is an easy follow and it feels like you know what you are talking about (a real rarity in the modern Toronto sports scene). While people are fair to say this may not be the right site or medium for you, I am glad you have a venue somewhere. Keep at it!

Now a suggestion for Norm, or perhaps the tsm crew.
A while ago you all posted some go to podcasts. In the spirit of not hijacking a post I will not say mine here or request any. But in the near future could we have another post on this?

As usual I typed this on my phone, so the grammar may suck, but auto correct is my new master.

Another Steve
Another Steve
July 3, 2014 9:00 am

Maybe the name of the site should change to “Young Sports Reporters of Toronto” then, or perhaps “The Toronto Sports Blog”. I’m sure that it will start to attract the same people who call in to the radio shows.

It’s a free world, of course, and they can do what they wish with their site, but I am rather disappointed, since I used to enjoy coming here so much.

July 3, 2014 1:20 pm

I agree Steve,I used to come to this site every day. It was a different take. It held media types accountable. It was fun to see the tables turned back on the opinion givers. I enjoyed the role reversal with regards to hosts being commented on in the same way that they commented on athletes.
I shudder at the thought of those same people posting here.
It was actually the switch to call in radio focus shows that got me away from radio in the first place.
It went one of two ways.
1) Hey, I am throwing out a fake opinion that nobody who watches sports would agree with…please call in to my show and tell me I am wrong. I will then yell back at you and support my opinion with have truths.
2) Oh hey, I put not effort into show prep. Please call in “the topic is yours”.
Either way, I thought we were tuning into a radio show to be given an expert opinion. I always likened it to getting a newspaper, and the sports section was blank with a sticky “please write your own story”. The same amount of expertise would be found in both.

July 3, 2014 3:59 pm

The interesting thing about Norm’s article above is that it starts with discussion of how the media has handled the reporting of the selection but then goes into an evaluation of the selection. Perhaps a clearer delineation between the two topics would help those who are pointing out that the TSM site is moving away from criticism of the media.

July 3, 2014 4:14 pm

I appreciate the comments and the overall discussion. My mandate here (and my goal) is to part from the media coverage surrounding a certain subject and then to give my opinion (hopefully well-thought out and constructed) based on that coverage. Naturally, the line has been (and will be) blurred when it comes to delineating between giving my opinion on the media and on the subject they are covering; it comes with the territory. But I aim to write within the same spirit of the site, only with a slightly different format.

Raptors Devotee
July 3, 2014 5:23 pm

Nice article Norm, as you summed up my feelings exactly on it. Here is the best article to date on it:

Darren Johnston
Darren Johnston
July 3, 2014 10:13 pm

@ Another Steve & Sean, I totally agree, I wasn’t in any way, shape or forum criticizing Norm’s write up, simply saying that besides MIB there really isn’t much here anymore that warrants a click when there are literally thousands of websites that spew out the same opinionated stuff, over, and over again. IMO, Mike in Boston could easily start up his own website and be almost guaranteed a boatload of traffic, starting off with people from here as well as what used to be “A Rouge Point”.

Another Steve
Another Steve
July 4, 2014 2:22 pm

I stand by what I wrote, and I certainly hope you didn’t take it personally.

As far as I can see, there’s a real hole in the market in terms of sports media criticism/analysis, and that’s why I have long enjoyed reading many of the comments made on this site.

In my field, academia, book reviews written by people who don’t have tenure tend to be rather useless because the junior faculty are too afraid to be critical, thinking only about their future job prospects. It’s the same thing with young journalists: they want to be hired someday, to become journalists, and so any real analysis is not likely going to happen.

Maybe that’s not the “mandate” here, as has been written. Fine. My only point is that I enjoy media criticism, both high-brow and low-brow, and that’s what has made this site special.

I appreciate that you are busy, as I am too. So I invite you to take my criticism in the friendly manner that I offer it.


[…] couple of days ago, I wrote that I thought there should have been more skepticism from beat writers concerning the Bruno Caboclo draft pick. Today, the opposite is true; from what […]

July 8, 2014 1:25 pm


I appologize for a ‘negative’ look at things, but lets rewind the clock 18-24 months ago, what was the message?

‘Hold on guys, itll get back to what it was in a few months’…..

Well, here we are…

I get that you don’t have a ton of time, but after the 5th or 6th time you say ‘its coming guys’, we kind of lose faith.

We love what this site was, it was great, I was here DAILY. Look at all the posts, look at what everyone is saying. We don’t like the new ‘sports’ talk, its akin to an Andrew Krystal ‘should the leafs trade Thomas Kaberle’ topic, its not why we are here, and you know that. Its a waste of time, no one even bothers to comment on those posts.

We are passionate, we miss the content you provide,and its frustrating to constantly hear ‘its coming guys’ month after month, year after year…

Would love your thoughts, please comment.x