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Is Bruno Caboclo ready to step up for the Rockets?

Bruno Caboclo #5 of the Houston Rockets (Photo by Ashley Landis-Pool/Getty Images)
Bruno Caboclo #5 of the Houston Rockets (Photo by Ashley Landis-Pool/Getty Images)
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Houston Rockets
Bruno Caboclo #5 of the Houston Rockets (Photo by Ashley Landis-Pool/Getty Images)

With the Houston Rockets left with a scarce number of roster spots, they made an intriguing decision on Thursday, by inking a new deal with Bruno Caboclo.

The 2020-21 NBA season is getting closer and closer to starting, as training camps are set to start within the coming weeks. The Houston Rockets‘ training camp will start on Tuesday, December 1st, which is much sooner than usual, as the Rockets’ last game was on September 12th.

Rockets general manager Rafael Stone has been tasked with rounding out the roster, in spite of the challenges of the Rockets being hard-capped and limited in what they have to offer. The Rockets have agreed to deals with Christian Wood, Jae’Sean Tate, Sterling Brown, and Mason Jones, in addition to drafting Kenyon Martin Jr. in the second round of the 2020 NBA Draft.

The Rockets also added former All-Star and max player DeMarcus Cousins, as they needed a reserve big. Although Cousins has a unique all-around skillset, he has an injury history and missed all of the 2019-20 season due to his return from a torn ACL, meaning the Rockets needed an insurance policy in the event that Cousins isn’t fully healthy at the start of the season, in addition to keeping his minutes down to keep him fresh throughout the season.

On Thursday the Rockets announced the signing of Bruno Caboclo, who was acquired during the 2019-20 season by the franchise at the trade deadline. Caboclo didn’t exactly receive much of an opportunity to impress during his eight games with the franchise, as he only played 6.5 minutes per night, which isn’t nearly enough to contribute.

Is Bruno Caboclo ready to step up for the Houston Rockets?

The Brazilian native’s only hope for playing time was receiving minutes when the game was already decided and out of hand, leaving him with garbage time as his only opportunity to flash his abilities. Caboclo was one of several players to fall victim to former Houston Rockets coach Mike D’Antoni’s unwillingness to play young, developing players, joining Isaiah Hartenstein, Gary Clark, and Chris Clemons over the last several years.

Although garbage time isn’t always the best indicator of a player’s ability, as opposing teams oftentimes trot out their G-League level players during blowouts, Caboclo’s per 36 minutes are impressive. The 6-foot-9 forward averaged 19.4 points, 11.1 rebounds, 3.5 steals, and 3.5 blocks per 36 during his stint with the Houston Rockets, which were all career highs.

Caboclo limited opponents to 42.9 percent from the field during his eight games with the Rockets, which was third-best on the team during that span, and was better than former All-Defense forward Robert Covington and tied with Houston Rockets defensive ace P.J. Tucker.

Caboclo had the best defensive rating on the team, as the Rockets surrendered only 98 points per 100 possessions with him on the floor, which offers another glimmer of why the Rockets initially traded for him. Caboclo also posted true shooting numbers of 61.8 percent, which was a career-best and had a Player Efficiency Rating of 22.1, which was second-best on the Houston Rockets behind only James Harden (yes you read that right).

Caboclo’s 3-point shooting left much room to be desired, as he made just 25 percent of his threes in Houston, which was a major dropped from the 2018-19 season, in which he made 36.9 percent of his threes on 3.8 attempts per game. Caboclo’s drop-off in shooting could also be tied to a lack of playing time, as he never got a chance to get into a rhythm, which is evident in how he only averaged one attempt per game in Houston.

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With Stephen Silas at the helm, who has a background in player development, and the Rockets opting to give Caboclo a two-year contract, as opposed to bringing in another big man, now is the time for him to put it all together and prove that he’s ready to contribute.

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