4. Bruno Caboclo
When the Houston Rockets acquired Bruno Caboclo, many Rockets’ fans didn’t know what to expect, and rightfully so. After all, it’s not like Caboclo was a household name around the league, so there’s no way of knowing what the Rockets were getting out of the Brazilian Kevin Durant.
Caboclo was set to become an unrestricted free agent at the conclusion of the 2019-20 season, so it was clear that he was going to have to stand out and make an instant first impression if he wanted to be back with the Houston Rockets next season. Unfortunately for the Brazilian-native, his Rockets tenure didn’t quite go as planned, as he struggled to find time on the court.
Although Caboclo’s skillset fit with the Rockets’ small ball strategy, as he’s a 6-foot-9 center, he was going to have an uphill battle to climb, as we know Rockets coach Mike D’Antoni doesn’t necessarily trust his younger, developmental players. Caboclo ultimately averaged less than six minutes per game and only played in five of a potential Rockets’ games.
There were nine potential Rockets games that the 24-year-old big man was held out of, which seems fair considering the fact that he was recovering from an injury at the time of the trade, right? What’s interesting is that even after Caboclo’s first game with the Rockets, he sat out five of the Rockets’ remaining nine games.
In the games he did play, he didn’t log a single minute in the first half. In fact, there was only one game in which he even played in the third quarter, which was the Rockets’ blowout loss against the Orlando Magic. All in all, the Brazilian KD didn’t enter any of the games he played in until the outcome was already determined, as the smallest point differential of any of the five games he played in was 19 points.
Caboclo’s per 36 averages indicated he should’ve gotten more playing time, as he averaged 12.9 points, 11.6 rebounds and 5.1 blocks per 36 minutes, but that’s not exactly the proven formula of MDA. Caboclo posted career highs in rebounds and blocks per 36 minutes, and his scoring averages were the second-best of his NBA career.
We’d have to ask the question of whether the Rockets will want to use a roster spot on a player they weren’t necessarily impressed by, as they’re likely going to already be doing that with Isaiah Hartenstein and Chris Clemons, assuming they aren’t traded.
Another factor that complicates matters regarding Caboclo’s status with the Rockets beyond this season is whether D’Antoni will be back as the Rockets’ coach after the season ends. Although the Rockets haven’t been able to come to terms with their winningest coach in franchise history, it seems unlikely that MDA won’t be back next season, considering the implications of the coronavirus hiatus.
All in all, it would be a surprise if Caboclo is on the Rockets’ roster beyond this season.
Next: No. 3