When the Toronto Raptors selected Bruno Caboclo with the 20th pick in the 2014 draft, it would be an understatement to say the basketball world was shocked.
The Brazilian's lack of polish led to comments like the now-famous "he is two years away from being two years away."
Despite being on the Raptors' roster for the majority of the 2014-15 season thus far, Caboclo has appeared in only four games for a total of 16 minutes. In that extremely limited playing time, he has netted eight points and corralled two rebounds. All of his buckets came in his debut on Nov. 21 in garbage time against the Milwaukee Bucks.
With a nickname like 'The Brazilian Kevin Durant,' the potential is clearly through the roof for the 19-year-old small forward. But with Toronto sitting second in the Eastern Conference, the team cannot afford to give Caboclo the steady minutes that DeMar DeRozan and Terrence Ross saw in their first seasons in the NBA.
So with their first-round pick riding the pine, the logical solution would be for the Raptors to send him down to the Developmental League, right?
Well, here's the problem. Toronto does not have its own D-League affiliate, so they must assign him to the Fort Wayne Mad Ants, which 13 NBA teams share.
Caboclo is now in his second stint with the Mad Ants, and his playing time has been sparse. Through five games, he is averaging less than five points per game in about 11 minutes a night. He is also struggling with his shot, connecting on only 32 percent of his field-goal attempts.
Fort Wayne is the defending D-League champion, and is currently leading the Central Division. Like the Raptors, this squad is focused on winning now, leaving few chances for Caboclo to grow his game. If the rookie's development continues at this pace, he may very well be two years away from being two years away.
As Toronto Sun reporter Ryan Wolstat writes, the Raptors are in dire need of their own D-League franchise. This team would be completely devoted to developing talent. The coaching staff would implement the same system and terminology that Dwane Casey uses in Toronto.
Let's take a look at an example of a team that boasts its own D-League team. The San Antonio Spurs have been able to use the Austin Spurs (formerly the Austin Toros) to breed players since 2005. On a perennial contender like the Spurs, Canadian guard Cory Joseph was not going to get much run. Recognizing this fact, San Antonio sent him to Austin for two seasons to sharpen his skills. Over his D-League career, Joseph averaged 17.4 points and 5.4 assists and earned an all-star berth in the 2012-13 campaign.
The 23-year-old is now on Greg Popovich's roster and is averaging 13.6 points, 4.5 rebounds and 4.4 assists per 36 minutes. He filled in admirably in the Spurs' starting lineup when Tony Parker went down with an injury. Joseph has now cemented himself as a rotation player on one of the most heralded teams in the league. This example demonstrates the value of having your own D-League franchise at your disposal.
Wolstat reports that Raptors executives had productive talks over the all-star break about obtaining an affiliate as soon as next season. While the location will not be in Canada, we could see a team somewhere in New York State. The close proximity would allow for a similar partnership to what the Toronto Blue Jays have with the triple-A Buffalo Bisons.
What do you think? Where would you like to see Toronto's D-League affiliate located?