I think it’s time that the Toronto Raptors organization said goodbye to a few people. Since we already know that Raptors management specializes in incompetence, let’s focus our rage on the players since they are the ones who are actually touching the ball. We could name a few players we need to get rid of and briefly it would include Jose Calderon and DeMar Derozan. Since trading Calderon would make Toronto a very non-Euro team, that would be out of the question. Derozan is a solid player, not a superstar mind you, but a solid player. He would make good trade bait, but in return the Raptors would get much less. So all that’s left is the 7 foot elephant in the room, namely Bargnani. It’s been about 6 years since Bargnani has graced us with his presence and it’s been a great party and all, but we need to send Bargnai home once and for all.
When the Toronto Raptors selected Andrea Bargnani as the first overall draft pick back in 2006, everyone was excited. Bargnani, also known as “Il Mago” or “The Magician” blinded scouts with his 7 foot towering height, his soft and yet accurate shooting hands, his ability to play close to the net, and his deadly 3 ball. Once Bargnani landed in Toronto, Brian Coangelo had nearly completed his transformation of the Raptors into Euro flavored high scoring NBA team. The arrival of Bargnani was most welcomed in Toronto’s strong European community and he seemed to be the Italy’s answer to Yao Ming. Bargnani helped the Raptors get to the playoffs but were quickly dispatched by the Nets. The next year, Bargnani improved slightly and the Raptors once again got into the playoffs and were once again dispatched by the Magic all in the first round. At the time most of the criticisms against Bargnani was that he was a soft player, not willing to go inside or bang it up under the boards. Bargnani was also injured frequently. However Toronto stayed patient hoping that Bargnani would break out. By 2010, Chris Bosh smartened up and said goodbye to Toronto to join LeBron and Wade, but that’s another story. With the absence of Bosh, Bargnani was officially the top dog on the Raptors team and with this new status he promptly lead the Raptors to 22-60 record. By the way that’s 22 wins and 60 losses, not the other way around.
Fast forward to the current 2012-13 season and it’s clear that Bargani can’t be the top dog of this team. He still possess significant offensive contribution for any team. However Bargnani’s glaring weakness may be that he is weak for a big man and pretty fragile too. I hope the NBA will learn that big NBA players face more physical trauma on the court than smaller players. That’s simply because they must support all that weight and adding gravity to the equation, it’s obvious a big man faces bigger injuries over time. The bigger they are, the harder they fall…. Bargnani was recently hurt and is expected to be out a while. Last year he was hurt and was out a while as well. As a 10 million dollar a year player, so far Bargnani has been a major rip-off, but don’t worry fans, this is just the philosophical workings of Raptors management. Buy high, then hold a garage sale. Don’t be too discouraged though, if it will soothe your soul, then you’ll be happy to know that Calderon also charges 10 million a year as well.
On the court Bargnani is all offense. Well not really, let’s revise that. On the court Bargnani is mostly offense (when he’s having a good day and the universe is properly aligned) but posses nothing else. He’s average 4 rebounds per game this season. For a 7 foot tall guy, this is pretty much unacceptable. As far as his passing skills go, once again he has 1.3 assists per game. This means he doesn’t like to pass the ball. He just likes to shoot, but not share the ball or play defense. For a big man with Bargnani’s skills he should be posting players, using his shooting when away from the net, and passing off for open shots. None of this has happened and it seems that 7 years later it’s not going to happen either.
Is all this negativity Bargnani’s fault? Certainly not. The blame lays squarely on Raptors management. Bargnani is not the face of the Raptors franchise, nor should he be put in that position. Bargnani is a good player but is no franchise player. Management put too high expectations on him and now they are blaming him for their bad decisions. The only way to fix this mess is to get someone decent for Bargnani. No more 7 footers either (that means you Pau Gasol). Bargnani will do well on another team, but for the Raptors who are weak in many places, he is being wasted. The Raptors should go after someone smaller but who can score, rebound, and is a quick player. For $10,000,000 I’m sure someone will show up. The next step is to get rid of both Kyle Lowrie (ball hog) and Calderon (no defense, no offense) and free up some of that salary cap to get at least 3 more good players.
Bargnani as a person seems like a nice guy. He’s quiet and polite. Although I must admit, I hate the stupid look on his face when he drops a 3 ball. So it’s with grace that I criticize Bargnani as a player. Since the internet has this powerful ability to turn normal people into a bunch of frenzied monkies, I want to say that Bargnani had some promise but it seems like now is the time to trade him and still get some value. He didn’t do himself any favours either when he stated to an Italian newspaper that Toronto is the worst team in the NBA. This self assessment is very unbecoming because he is the actual face of the Raptors. So to say that the Raptors are the worst team in the NBA is not only false (the Wizards are) but also a direct insult to himself. With that kind of attitude, he should probably just go back to Euro league basketball where the 3 ball flourishes and diving is mandatory. I think his statement is his indication that he no longer wishes to play for the Raptors and is open to a trade.
With that I leave you a video which defines Andrea Bargnani. It’s his commercial for Primo Pasta where he is hyped up with a collection of practice montages. When he gets to saying something, he’s abruptly cut off and the Primo Pasta jingle drowns him out.