Toronto Raptors Player Profile: Andrea Bargnani

Howard Smith-US PRESSWIRE

In the 2006 NBA Draft the Toronto Raptors had the #1 overall pick. They used that to select a 7-footer from Italy. Andrea Bargnani. For many, his career has been a disappointment. I personally like this player, but it is clear that he has had moments where he did not look like he was worthy of being a top NBA pick.

Bargnani is the 4th Rap in team history to eclipse 6,000 points (Chris Bosh, Vince Carter, Morris Peterson). Not since Larry Bird has a jump shot got me out of my seat with excitement and anticipation of a swish. It must be amazing to shoot with impunity. The 7-footer has a very high release point and no one can block or alter his shot. Very exiting shooter. Constantly draws comparisons to Dirk Nowitzki.

As much as I love his jumper, I would have to acknowledge that his 3-ball percentage has plummeted in recent years. In the 2008-2009 season he was cash money from downtown. He shot 41% from 3-ball range that season. His numbers have decreased for 3 straight seasons, and last year were at a career-low 29%.

With all the Bosh antics/shenanigans (and ultimate departure) the Raps have leaned more and more on Bargs for offense so he is having to force many more shots than in the past. This has a chance to greatly improve this season as new additions like Kyle Lowry and Terrence Ross should spark a better team offense. One that has flow to the point where Bargs is shooting in-rhythm rather than having to force a shot because the shot clock is almost expired.

I think Bargnani will again be able to score this season, but he has drawn the ire of Raps fans because for a 7-footer he is terrible at rebounding, and plays ineffective defense (offers very little consequence to opponents who attack the rim vs the Raps). A calf injury ended last season early for Bargs, which was a mega shame as new coach Dwane Casey actually had Bargnani playing significantly better defense. We saw Casey improve Nowitzki’s defense by improving his angles/footwork/technique in 1-on-1 scenarios, and also become a better help defender. That was happening with Bargnani too, but the injury derailed that. It is a sure must that Bargnani continues his improved play on defense under Casey

He is currently healthy after taking time off from basketball for the first time in his career. He has added 15 pounds to his frame which is great.

He is not just a guy who can score. His assists have improved every season. He is the focal point of the offense so he does attract double-teams, but he has become very good at passing out of those to set up an open teammate.

In training camp we are seeing the Raps send players that are around 6’8″ to guard him as we see more and more opponents playing him that way. The thinking is the smaller/quicker defender can wreak havoc if the 7-footer tries to put the ball on the floor to dribble. Bargnani is very good at dribbling to a sweet spot and then getting his shot off. Teams know they cannot block or alter his jumper, so you need to try to disrupt his rhythm and create a steal when he dribbles.

Casey has very clear goals for Bargnani, and improved rebounding is one of them. Bargnani scores double-digits on a regular basis, but in 398 NBA games he has a mere 22 double-doubles. He does not do enough rebounding to be a legit double-double threat, but his upside would suggest that he can (and should) improve his rebounding (especially under Casey).

Bargnani is cash money from the foul line. We need to see Lowry and Jose Calderon provide him with opportunities to get the ball in the post in a spot he likes as we need to see him be more aggressive in the paint. He is too good from the line to not try to actively get there, and being aggressive in attacking the basket is the best way to get to the charity stripe.

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