To say I was shocked would be a complete understatement.
Masai Ujiri may have made the biggest gamble of the night and took the entire NBA universe by surprise when he drafted a player that apparently no one had even heard of.
Now that I’ve had some time to think about it and figure out the process here, I’m ok with the selections made by Masai Ujiri. Risky for sure, but risk isn’t always a bad thing, especially in the spots the Raptors had found themselves in on draft night.
Caboclo comes to the Raptors as an incredibly raw player with very little experience. But he is also known to be a gym rat and hard worker which is always great to see from a player. He has the size to play either forward position but definitely looks like he needs to get bigger and stronger to play more PF.
Additionally, his huge 7'7" wingspan should help him on the defensive end where he could become well above average if developed properly. He has already drawn comparisons to Kevin Durant and Giannis Antetokuonmpo due to his great combination of size, length, shooting and athleticism. While reaching Durant level is highly unlikely, if not next to impossible, Caboclo's potential should at least have you excited. I know I am.
The fact that so many "fans" are already ignorantly comparing him to Rafael Araujo is completely mind boggling to me. They are absolutely nothing alike other than the fact that they are Brazilian. If you are a die-hard fan of basketball, you would know just how ridiculous that comparison actually is without getting into all of the details.
If, like Rafael Araujo, Caboclo was taken 8th overall over more well known players with potential, then you’d have a reason to complain about it. Yes, Ujiri took a reach and a pretty big gamble at that. But at 20th, don’t kid yourself, the Raptors needed to take a shot in the dark even if things don’t work out with him.
Similarly, to the people saying that the Raptors could have, or should have taken him 37th overall, then please share with everyone your insider information that the Raptors clearly didn’t have access to.
Seriously, if Masai Ujiri believed that he would be available at #37, don’t you think it’s obvious that’s what he would have done? The fact that they took him 20th is a pretty good sign that they believed he was not going to be available later on.
Add to the fact that there were supposedly other teams who were interested in taking him before the Raptors’ next pick. Even if they wouldn’t have, we’ll never know that. But it was an opportunity that the Raptors had to take advantage of if they truly believed he was the best available and did not want to risk losing him.
It's more than likely that the more well known names that people are arguing Ujiri should have taken will end up as nothing more than NBA role players. So who cares? If the Raptors want role players, they can easily get them through trades or free agency. Ujiri took a chance on a player who actually has the potential to be something special in the future. That's what the Raptors need right now even if it takes him years of development to get there.
If anything, I'm disappointed that, for whatever reason, the Raptors didn't make the deal with the Grizzlies to get a second first round pick at #22. Even though the deal was supposedly in place to get Ennis and Caboclo, I think it still makes sense to draft another player in the first round even at the expense of Tayshaun Prince. But for all we know, it may not have been the Raptors who ultimately decided not to go through with that deal.
It takes risk to get reward. Sometimes those risks don’t work out as planned for GM’s, but it's usually the successful ones who aren't afraid take the risks in the first place. Like most, I am hoping that despite the risk, this pick works out and look forward to seeing him play for the Raptors next season and beyond.
It's going to take some outside of the box thinking in order to come out on top in the draft and I think this was a good opportunity for doing that. Just because you’ve never heard of a player, doesn’t automatically make it a bad pick.