Over the next several weeks, we’ll be breaking down some young players and their fits next to Jaren Jackson Jr. and Ja Morant, while addressing the likelihood of them being on the next Memphis Grizzlies playoff team. So far GBB has covered the fits of Josh Jackson, Kyle Anderson, and Dillon Brooks. Now, we continue with Bruno Caboclo.
Bruno Caboclo is infamously known for being declared “two years away from being two years away” during the 2014 draft. We don’t know what that entailed, to be honest. Was he “two years away from being two years away” from being a superstar? Or an All-Star? Or a role player?
Well, we’re passed at that point, as the Memphis Grizzlies had the honor to have this enigmatic prospect at the end of the “two years away from being two years away” stage.
Honestly, we still don’t really know what he is.
He’s had lofty comparisons such as “Brazilian KD” and the “next Giannis,” but he hasn’t come close to it. At times though, he’s shown flashes of being a good role player in this league. He has a smooth shooting form for a guy his size. When he’s at the rim, good luck trying to block him with his pterodactyl length. With that gaudy wingspan, he has the tools to be a legitimate 5-position defender.
There comes a time though where those flashes have to materialize, especially when you’re in your fifth season. Caboclo lacks the consistency, and sometimes the motor, to solidify his spot in the league, despite the flashes. As he’s currently on a non-guaranteed deal, can he prove that he belongs in the league? If so, how does he project alongside Jaren Jackson Jr. and Ja Morant, as Zach Kleiman, Taylor Jenkins and friends look to develop the next great Memphis Grizzlies team?
Fit Next to Jaren and Ja
Bruno Caboclo, in theory, is a nice fit next to Jaren Jackson Jr. and Ja Morant on both ends of the court.
Like every elite playmaker, Morant needs some players that can provide spacing and shoot the 3 ball. Last season for the Grizzlies, Caboclo was one of their better spot-up shooters. In catch-and-shoot, 3-point scenarios, he shot 39.1 percent on 3.8 attempts a game. If he continues with this accuracy, it’ll be huge for Morant’s transition into being a NBA point guard. He would provide the necessary spacing for Ja to go downhill and finish at the rim, while also serving as a reliable kick-out option for catch-and-shoot 3’s.
Defensively, the potential between a Jaren Jackson Jr. and Bruno Caboclo tandem is tantalizing. Both players have nice positional versatility, as Jackson can slide down to the 5, and Caboclo to the 4. As a 3 and 4 duo, they can serve as interchangeable defenders, guarding either forward spot depending on the matchup, while also defending on the perimeter in space. When both players are at the 4 and 5 spots, they could be a dangerous tandem. Both players can switch in the pick-and-roll and defend in space. In addition, they would make life hell for anyone trying to score on them at the rim with their ginormous wingspans.
If Caboclo can turn his effort up a notch defensively, while also shooting 38-40% from deep, he’d be an intriguing piece at the either forward spot alongside Jackson and Morant.
Can He Be on the Next Great Grizzlies Team?
We don’t how good Caboclo can become, but regardless I don’t really see how he’s on the next great Memphis Grizzlies basketball team.
As a non-guaranteed contract this season, he’s easily expendable. For example, if the Grizzlies do a 2-for-1 deal in any Andre Iguodala trade — which is likely — he can be a casualty, as they’d look to make room for the additional player in the trade. Or, if they decide to make room for Yuta Watanabe on the main roster, Caboclo could be the guy they move on from.
However, even if he has a good season with Memphis this year, I don’t see how he stays beyond this year. He’ll be an unrestricted free agent next summer, and there’s still intrigue with him. At 24 years old, he’s still young. and he has plenty of tools that many teams are interested in — size, shooting, positional versatility, to name a few. Because of those factors, in a depleted free agent class next season, a team could slightly overpay as a way to bet on his upside. As we’ve seen this past summer (i.e., Delon Wright), this new front office does think twice before overpaying.
He may not be the Brazilian KD or the next Giannis, but if Caboclo can be a Robert Covington Lite, a player that’s a good spot-up shooter and multi-positional defender, that’d be nice for him. A player of that caliber is a nice fit alongside Jaren Jackson Jr. and Ja Morant, especially when considering his physical tools.
This season is a big year for him, as he’s in a contract year and looking to lock down a guaranteed deal. If he can maintain his shooting consistency, while being a plus defender, he’ll find a spot in the league. Whether that’s with the Memphis Grizzlies or not remains a mystery.