Tell me Bebe isn’t the most fun player on this Raptors team. Go on. Sure, he never got chants from the crowd like Bruno, despite his almost victory cigar-like status on the current team. But Bebe contributes something on the court that Bruno almost never did, production and value.
Let’s rewind all the way back to the beginning of the season. Game 2 of 82 against the Philadelphia 76ers Bebe got the call as first big off the bench after JV. Putting up 10 points, 9 boards, and 2 blocks. Not too shabby for a third string Centre. Decision making and injuries limited his minutes in future games as well as the emergence of the young Jakob Poeltl. But like always, no matter the minutes, Bebe stayed ready.
From the average fans perspective, his confidence is almost immeasurable. Not as if it’s through the roof towing on cockiness, but genuinely difficult to understand. He’s 25, has never played in more than 57 regular season games, and has career averages of 3.2 PPG, 2.8 RPG, and 1.0 BPG. Where does it come from? We all know the famous Open Gym clip, Lucas speaking of his confidence despite his situation. To paraphrase, Lucas had said:
“I just have confidence. I believe in myself. No disrespect to JV or to Yak, but I don’t compete with them. I only compete with myself, because I know that I am the only one that can stop me.”
Bold words from a career third-string centre. But it’s certainly found somewhere, likely in his upbringing in Sao Goncalo, a municipality of Rio de Janeiro, and his professional career in Spain which began when he was 14. Playing in the Spanish ACB is no joke, it is one of the most competitive leagues outside of the NBA. Winning ACB’s Best Defender Award for the 2013-14 season is even less of a joke, Bebe cemented himself as a real talent long ago.
So maybe we shouldn’t be surprised by his impact on a tense Game 1 against the Washington Wizards. He’s always shown flashes of promise, linking up with Lowry on high-flying alley-oops, blocking shots some would think were out of range of even the NBA’s greatest erasers, and of course making great assists or earning the “hockey assist” to a great team play. Bebe has skills.
So near the end of the 4th quarter, when Delon drove to the rim and dropped it to Bebe for an open dunk what did you expect? A rim-rocker? Well, to the disappointment of teammates and fans in the ACC Bebe didn’t even look at the hoop, he dished it out to an open CJ Miles for an even more gratifying 3-point bomb to cement the Raps lead. Sure he’ll get beat on the PnR sometimes, what Raptors centre doesn’t? So let’s restrain our surprise when it comes to a great contribution from Bebe, the man has basketball skill and know-how coming out of every pore. It might be why his hair is so big.