When the Toronto Raptors selected Bruno Caboclo in the first-round of the 2014 NBA Draft, he was quickly heralded "two years from being two years away." That quote deemed him a very raw prospect that would need some time to develop before he could really bring anything valuable to the NBA.
With the Raptors one of the top teams in the Eastern Conference at 24-7, there aren't many available minutes for the raw Brazilian prospect. His 7'6" wingspan coupled with a 6'9" frame makes him an intimating presence, but a 205 pound 19-year-old kid is not ready to bang with the big boys in The Association. To date, Caboclo has played just 15 minutes in three games for the Raptors.
Taking all of this in mind, the young Caboclo was recently assigned to the D-League by the Raptors. The Raptors are one of the 13 teams in the NBA that fail to have a one-to-one affiliation with a D-League club, meaning that Caboclo was assigned to the Fort Wayne Mad Ants. After two short games with Fort Wayne, the problems of teams not having single affiliations is starting to show.
In Caboclo's much anticipated debut with Fort Wayne, he totaled 20 minutes. He scored 13 points on 14 shots, adding seven rebounds and two blocks, but also committing four turnovers. That type of stat line highlights the promise in Caboclo, but also the need for development. If he received bigger chunks of minutes, it would allow the Brazilian to work through his issues and develop. But as we saw in his second game, the minutes just weren't there, as Bruno only played a total of four minutes. It's difficult for development to happen without minutes, why is why teams usually send players to the D-League. Twenty-four minutes in two games is not ideal for Caboclo or the Raptors.
If Toronto had the advantage of having a single affiliate in the Development League, Caboclo could be thrusted into the Raptors' individual minor league system, which, assumedly, would be very similar to the system the Raptors run in the NBA. But moreover, the single affiliate would have a earned interest in getting Caboclo the minutes he needs to develop into an NBA player. Instead of seeing him play four minutes like last night, he would be playing 25-30 minutes per game, developing every minute on the floor.
In Fort Wayne, the focus isn't just on Caboclo, it's on the entire team, a team trying to win games. With Fort Wayne being a place that handles affiliations from multiple NBA teams, throwing 30 minutes at Bruno is unrealistic. For example, the starting five for the Mad Ant's all logged over 30 minutes in last night's game against the Austin Spurs, with only one reserve playing over 16 minutes in C.J. Fair (28). Coach Conner Henry is trying to put his team in the best position to win games and his concern about the development of Bruno Caboclo is probably very low on his totem pole.
Bruno Caboclo's situation with the Mad Ant's is just one of many examples of the advantages of NBA teams investing in one-to-one affiliations with D-League teams. With players entering the NBA younger and more raw every season, the need for time in the D-League is becoming obvious, especially if franchises are going to gamble on players like the 19-year-old Caboclo.