The Toronto Raptors threw the biggest curveball of the 2014 NBA draft, selecting Brazilian Bruno Caboclo with the 20th overall pick.
If you're wondering, "who?" then you aren't alone. The Charlotte Observer's Jonathan Jones summarized most people's reactions of the selection:
Oh yeah Bruno sure I know that guy.— Jonathan Jones (@jjones9) June 27, 2014
Even those covering the Raptors, according to the Boston Globe's Gary Washburn, were somewhat befuddled by the pick:
Sitting next to the two Toronto writers, who looked like "Bruno who?" when the #raptors made their pick.— gary washburn (@GwashburnGlobe) June 27, 2014
But really. Who is this guy? He is 6'9", 200 pounds, long and athletic. ESPN's Fran Fraschilla, via ESPN's Royce Young, called him the Brazilian Kevin Durant:
Bruno Caboclo: The Brazilian Kevin Durant, Fran says.— Royce Young (@royceyoung) June 27, 2014
That's undeniably intriguing. However, he has very little experience, as Hoop365.com's Rafael Uehara noted:
Bruno Cabloco's stats in the Brazilian league: 17 games, 223 minutes, 81 points, 52 rebounds, 7 steals, 15 turnovers, 57.6% 2FG, 30.4% 3FG.— Rafael Uehara (@rafael_uehara) June 27, 2014
Still, inexperienced players, especially ones with a skill set as tantalizing as Caboclo's, are drafted all the time. It's just surprising that the Raptors didn't trade down or try to take him in the second round, as Basketball Insiders' Alex Kennedy noted:
Last week, when I started hearing Bruno Caboclo's name, execs said he's a "mystery man" who is "intriguing." But that was as a 2nd-rounder.— Alex Kennedy (@AlexKennedyNBA) June 27, 2014
As Fraschilla added, we are still potentially four years away from seeing if Caboclo can live up to his immense hype:
Fran on Bruno: He's two years away from being two years away.— Jonathan Jones (@jjones9) June 27, 2014
Put it all together, and Rotoworld's Steve Alexander was willing to call it one of the most shocking picks of the past decade:
Renaldo Balkman was a shocking No. 20 pick in 2006. Bruno Caboclo topped it in 2014, at...No. 20— Steve Alexander (@docktora) June 27, 2014
No one seems to know what Masai Ujiri was thinking, but Young has a theory:
Sometimes I think Masai Ujiri is the hipster GM. "I was into Bruno Capoclo WAY before anyone else was."— Royce Young (@royceyoung) June 27, 2014
After finishing third in the East last year, the Raptors were thought to be going after a player who could make an instant impact and help them continue to climb the NBA hierarchy.
Instead, they've gone in the complete opposite direction, taking the youngest and most raw player in the draft. This may look like a steal in a decade, but for now, it's a move that left many scratching their heads.