BRUNO arrives in Toronto today.
The Raptors' international man of mystery meets with the media this morning at 10:30 where I'm sure he'll be able to put all of the Toronto fanbase's fears of being a bust to rest.
Ok, I'm being slightly sarcastic here but indeed, the TO media will be chatting with Mr. Caboclo and Masai Ujiri as Toronto's stealth project is officially unveiled to the world. It seems that in the past 36 hours, opinion about the pick has shifted from this, to a more reasoned this. Over at RaptorsRepublic.com, Tim Chisholm penned an excellent piece in fact on why we should be embracing not only this "out-of-leftfield selection" by the Raptors, but all of the Dinos' recent weirdo picks.
Again, for me it boils down to trusting in Masai, which at this point I still do 100 per cent. This isn't "Skita Part II," or some of the other names discussed in this great Grantland piece by Rafe Bartholomew that longtime draftnicks will surely enjoy. This is a player not chosen in the top five of the draft, and one that the Dinos have done their homework on. He may never work out, but there's a damn good chance guys like Shabazz Napier and Rodney Hood don't either.
This is no Hoffa pick either.
Hoffa made zero sense to the casual basketball fan (and of course to Stephen A. Smith!!) when he was selected eighth overall in the 2004 NBA Draft based on everything from prospect upside to physical traits. (T-Rex Arms, T-Rex Arms!!) There's logic with taking a shot at Caboclo, especially given that it does now sound like he wasn't lasting until pick number 37, the Dinos next kick at his can.
Now, all that said, it still feels to me like the club came up empty in this draft in terms of impact next season. Caboclo and DeAndre Daniels will play on the Raptors' Summer League roster and will likely get a shot at being fringe participants next season. I just don't see either coming in and suddenly having a Patrick Patterson type impact out of the blue.
Daniels in particular is concerning to me. As we've noted, he's got some NBA skills and looks the part of an NBA swingman in terms of his physical composition, but if you watched him at UCONN, you saw an inconsistent player, one that shied away from contact and just didn't use those physical gifts to the extent that you'd like.
And let's not even talk about his advanced stats. He finished 81st on Kevin Pelton's WARP rankings, which pegged him to be a slightly negative wins contributor at the next level. He also finished with a negative Wins Produced per 48 minute mark via NBA Box Score Geeks, ranking 136th on that list. There wasn't a statistical model that I looked at in fact that saw him ranked as a top 60 pick and while again, no way I'm throwing all my ducks into a math-only view of a player, these views tend to be fairly accurate when used directionally. That means that while Marcus Smart may not end up being the best player in the draft when all is said and done - something many models have predicted - he should at least be a very solid selection based on how these models have held up over the years, especially at an aggregate level.
Daniels' college coach Kevin Ollie seems to disagree regarding DeAndre however saying: "I think he's (Daniels') going to be a great outstanding basketball player..."
I guess we shouldn't expect him to say anything different, so we'll just have to see how he plays, starting next month with Toronto's Summer League squad.
Not much in terms of other news regarding said squad, including the roster. We know the schedule of games, although it looks like the club will play only three this year, but the only player that we've heard about is Myck Kabongo, who according to the Toronto Sun's Ryan Wolstat, will be playing with the Raptors in Vegas. Some names I'd love to see on Toronto's roster though would include Khem Birch, Javon McCrea, Andre Dawkins, and Bryce Cotton, all undrafted options. Unfortunately it sounds like most of these players have already found Summer League residences so we'll have to see who the Dinos roll with.
Maybe Jamario Moon!
Some final draft thoughts.
Highlight of the Night: It's been said already but the NBA's tribute to Isaiah Austin was just awesome.
Best Drafts: Forget grades, which are pretty much useless for three to five years, but in terms of draft performances that I enjoyed, the Denver Nuggets, Boston Celtics, Milwaukee Bucks and Memphis Grizzlies all made trades/selections I thought would benefit long-term. The Nuggets flipped their single pick to the Bulls to end up with two very intriguing players (I think Gary Harris is going to be a very solid addition in particular), the Celtics grabbed two guys I expect to be impact players down the road, and is John Hollinger running the Grizz War Room or what? The club grabbed Jordan Adams and Jarnell Stokes with their first two picks, the exact two players we liked from an advanced stats perspective.
As for Milwaukee, I think the drafting of Jabari Parker will finally give that franchise some form of identity, and paired with defensive-minded players like the Greek Freak, John Henson and club-brawler Larry Sanders, will be a very nice fit.
In fact, I think Jabari will be a better NBA player than Andrew Wiggins when all is said and done. I like Wiggins, but I'm just not sold on him as the next Paul George and think his ceiling is closer to Demar DeRozan or Luol Deng at their peaks. (Although fingers crossed that last year wasn't DD's peak.)
I like what Philly did too, especially their trade with Orlando which I think will be a boost for both clubs, and if I was part of the Sixers fanbase, I'd be fine with another year of tanking. However I'm not your usual NBA fan I guess, and I can see another 20 win season being pretty tough for most fans to swallow.
Worst Drafts: Again, who knows how things actually turn out but I wasn't a big fan of what Sacramento, OKC and the LA Clippers did. I like Stauskas, but he's a weird fit there unless the Kings move some players around. (Also, was he the result of the crowdsourcing exercise???) OKC nabbed guys that are a little overrated in my books, and similar to players they already have so again, I scratched my head a bit there too.
For the Clippers, didn't they draft C.J. Wilcox last year, aka, Reggie Bullock?
Finally, I think this draft is really going to further separate the "Good" GM's from the "Bad." We've already noted that if the Caboclo pick doesn't work out, Masai is going to lose a lot of his current luster, but you could say the same about GM's and the front offices of places like OKC, Utah and Memphis. If Dante Exum is the next Skita, uh oh. And yes, Adams and Stokes look great from an advanced stats perspective but if both end up being duds...