By The Numbers:
34 Games (19 Started), 23.5 Minutes Per Game, 8.3 points per game, 42.7% field goal percentage, 36.9% Three Point Percentage, 109 Offensive Rating, 109 Defensive Rating, 12.4 Player Efficiency Rating, .09 Win Shares Per 48 Minutes
Season In Review:
Bruno Caboclo was signed back on January 24th to a 10-day contract. This was the result of several injuries and absences that had depleted the Grizzlies roster. At the time, I viewed the signing as an intriguing talent getting an audition. However, because of the lack of depth, it was also an opportunity for both Caboclo and the Grizzlies to see if they could be a long-term match.
Fortunately, that is exactly what occurred. Caboclo would sign a second 10-day contract, followed by a multi-year deal (potentially). While a lack of options certainly played a part in this development, the main reason for the long-term commitment was because of Caboclo himself. As injuries continued to plague Memphis, Caboclo would see his role increase and his usage expand. And as time went on, Caboclo was able to seize the moment and continue to improve.
As seen above, Caboclo’s overall numbers do not jump out at you. However, there are indicators that suggest his play improved as he became more established in his role as a starter and front-court contributor. Of his 34 games played, Caboclo started 19 of them, 16 of which came after March 1st. Overall he shot 43% from the field and 37% from beyond the arc. However, from March 1st to the end of the season, Caboclo improved his numbers to 45% from the field and 43% on three point shots.
85% of Caboclo’s shots were within 3 feet of the basket or beyond the arc. Caboclo made 60% of his shots from close range, with 62% of them assisted. Of his 48 made three-pointers, 47 were assisted. These numbers suggest Caboclo was more of a catch and shot offensive contributor than a shot creator. However, the close range shots show Caboclo has knowledge on how to use his size effectively to get to the basket when needed.
Speaking of his size and length, that is what naturally makes Caboclo an asset on defense. While his game is more instinct than skill at this point, Caboclo has shown the ability to cause disruption. He can make passing lanes difficult to find, and can block or alter shots anywhere on the court. As his basketball IQ increases, he should provide consistent positive value on defense.
Caboclo’s per-36 minutes numbers also show how unique yet effective his skill-set is for a player his size. For all players who played more than 800 minutes this season, Caboclo and Karl Anthony Towns were the only ones to average at least 12 points, 7 rebounds, 1.5 blocks, and 2 threes. Overall, Caboclo took an important and impressive step toward being a significant contributor in the NBA.
The answer to this question is on the Grizzlies just as much as it is Caboclo. For himself, Caboclo needs to continue improving his natural feel for the game and basketball IQ. It is very likely the Grizzlies will bring him back next year, and he likely will contribute as a reserve more than a starter. If that is the case, Caboclo must develop a versatile mindset that can help him contribute no matter the role he is given.
For the Grizzlies, they must place a priority on developing Caboclo. One reason changes were needed in the front office was the lack of identifying and developing talent over the past several years. The Grizzlies made the right decision bringing Caboclo aboard last year. They must involve him in the plans for next year, and continue working with him to improve his game.
No matter if the Grizzlies look to compete or rebuild over the next few months, developing a talent like Caboclo is crucial. For a small market that has struggled in drafting and attracting free agents over the years, getting relevant production from an unexpected source like Caboclo would be a surprising and positive development.
Furthermore, maximizing Caboclo’s potential would be an outstanding development for the Grizzlies roster. With Jaren Jackson Jr. and Kyle Anderson already in the fold, length and effective defense is clearly a potential strength for future teams in Memphis. If Caboclo can be added to that mix, the Grizzlies will be a nightmare matchup for opposing teams. Along with his ability to shoot the three, Caboclo certainly has the ability to contribute significant positive value on both ends of the court.
Stats provided by basketball-reference.com