Raptors 905 embark on quest to bring first pro basketball championship to the GTA

Title: Raptors 905 embark on quest to bring first pro basketball championship to the GTA
Date: April 4, 2017
Original Source: The Athletic
Synopsis: In my latest for The Athletic Toronto, I wrote about Raptors 905 and their unlikely quest for a title in Year Two of existence, and what’s at stake for everyone involved.

Very slowly, Bruno Caboclo is amassing playoff experience.

Despite playing very little basketball at the NBA level, the 21-year-old is set to enter a postseason for the fourth consecutive year. He hasn’t even played garbage-time minutes in the NBA playoffs, but at some point in April or May, he’ll be on the bench for a Raptors playoff team for the third year in a row. Prior to being made the No. 20 selection in the 2014 draft, Caboclo also had a run to the finals of the 2014 FIBA Americas League with E.C. Pinheiros in Brazil., where he played 44 minutes over three games.

There is no such thing as bad playoff exposure. Caboclo’s long, methodical learning curve on the way to hopeful NBA relevance being paved with team-level success, while often frustrating from a roster-building perspective, could conceivably help expedite his growth. The opportunity in front of him, then, is substantial: Play a prominent role on Raptors 905 as they look to win a D-League championship in just their second year of existence.

Caboclo, the development staff’s biggest project to date and a major impetus for the introduction of the 905 a year ago, figures to start for head coach Jerry Stackhouse’s team and play significant minutes. Over 34 regular season games, Caboclo showed immense growth on the defensive end, averaging over a steal and a block, executing schemes at both small forward and power forward, and becoming a plus-defender both in the team and man-to-man contexts. Offensive growth has been slow, but Caboclo continues to hone a long-range shot with encouraging mechanics and a 33.1-per cent success rate.

As many as nine more games, all of them under intense pressure in a best-two-of-three format, should help forge Caboclo’s basketball identity further. When he returns to the Raptors’ locker room sometime after April 27 amid their own playoff push, a D-League championship won’t be cause for bragging or boasting to teammates without a title run of their own yet.

“No, no,” Caboclo laughs. “I’ll have a ring, though.”

***

Continue reading at The Athletic.

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