Andrea Bargnani

Andrea Bargnani finished with 11 points and one rebound in 21 minutes last night. In his fifth season, he's averaging a career-low 4.8 rebounds per 36 minutes. (Getty Images)

Well, now we know. Most of us knew going into this season that the Raptors wouldn’t be a playoff team, but it took seven games for us to truly measure how bad this team was going to be. After last night’s lackluster effort against the Warriors, there is a strong possibility that the Raptors are the worst team in the Eastern Conference.

This team lacks star talent, plain and simple. Not a single one of these players is an above-average NBA starter. Their supposed “best player”, Andrea Bargnani, is a sixth man paid like a quality starter. Improbably, his help defense and rebounding effort appear to have worsened since last season. Whether it’s due to frustration because of the losing environment or the fact that he doesn’t seem to be held accountable for anything other than his offensive contributions, it’s time to acknowledge that he’s an abject failure as a frontcourt starter. I don’t even think that playing him next to a defensive-minded center would solve anything — power forwards need to rebound and defend, too.

The Warriors are a formidable offensive squad, without question. Stephen Curry and Monta Ellis make up one of the most dangerous backcourts in the league and they combined for 62 points on just 38 field goal attempts last night. The Raptors couldn’t guard them on the perimeter and they were met with minimal resistance when they drove to the basket. More importantly, the Warriors played harder and smarter than the Raptors. Let’s look at a couple of examples of the Raptors’ lazy, dumb play.

Midway through the second quarter with the Raptors trailing by eight, Sonny Weems grabbed a long rebound and led a three-on-two break with Leandro Barbosa and Jose Calderon on either side of him. Rather than passing to Barbosa for a probable layup or to Calderon for a wide-open three-point attempt, Weems pulls up at the free throw line and fires up a brick. If there was any doubt before last night that Weems is looking to score as much as possible in the hopes of maximizing his next contract, that doubt should be eliminated.

Later in the second quarter with the Warriors now leading by 17, Andrea Bargnani contested a Brandan Wright shot attempt and then started leaking out while Reggie Evans was left to battle Wright and David Lee for the rebound. Predictably, Wright threw down a putback dunk while Bargnani simply stood and watched.

I can excuse a player for not being particularly good at something. I don’t get mad at Reggie for being lousy on offense as long as he long as he plays his role and doesn’t waste possessions. I can’t overlook repeated brain farts like the one exhibited by Bargnani here. If Andrea boxed out Wright here, he would have ended up with the ball after Reggie fumbled it. Instead, it’s an easy score for the Warriors.

Luckily, not everyone on this team is infected with Bargnani’s malaise. For the third straight game, Amir Johnson was a positive force and he almost helped the Raptors get back into the game in the fourth quarter. After the Warriors took a 90-74 lead at the 10:44 mark, the Raptors went on a 12-0 run over the next four minutes — and Johnson was largely responsible for stifling the Warriors’ offense. In these two clips, Amir shows his defensive versatility by forcing Monta Ellis to take a bad shot at the buzzer, and then causing Stephen Curry to miss a layup 30 seconds later.

Amir will probably always be foul-prone but that doesn’t change the fact that he can be a positive force on both ends of the floor if he’s given sufficient playing time. The way I see it, Jay Triano should allocate him 30 minutes every game and make sure he understands that he’s going to get that playing time unless he fouls out. Some nights, he might foul out in 12 minutes. So what? Let him foul out! That’s preferable to having him sit on the bench with four or five fouls while the opposition conducts a layup drill.

The Raptors play the Eastern Conference’s other 1-6 team, the Charlotte Bobcats, on Wednesday. It’s quite possible that Triano could be coaching for his job in that game. After the Bobcats game, the Raptors go on the road to play the Magic, Heat, Wizards and 76ers. Then, they return home to play the Rockets and Celtics. There is legitimate potential for the Raptors to end up 1-13 after that string if they lose on Wednesday.

I don’t have strong feelings one way or the other about Triano’s status with this team because I don’t believe there is a coach out there who could mentor this team into the playoffs. I’m pretty sure Scott Skiles would have tried to punch out Bargnani last night if he was the coach. This team simply isn’t good and it looks like certain players have already checked out. This could get really ugly in the next couple of weeks. Get your popcorn ready.

Comments (15)

  1. 1-13. Oh, dear. It’s going to be a long bloody season. I feel for Triano. What can he possibly do? He should quit. And won’t it be something when Colangelo, with his team barely able to win 20 games, gets an extension? What a nightmare.

  2. @Navin: As long as the Raptors continue to make a profit, B.C. will have his job as long as he wants it.

  3. MLSE rewards failure. Bargnani’s contract, and Colangelo’s coming extension, are proof. This is insane.

  4. Hollinger rated the Raptors 18th in his first edition of the power rankings. Not agreeing with it or anything, just throwing it out there.

  5. Video Breakdown is an awesome addition to the blog Scott!

    Is it possible that Bargnani might get benched for the next game? If he did, Triano would definitely go up a few notches in my book.

    Also, Linas Kleiza is bringing back the feelings of extreme frustration that good old Antoine Wright used to stir in me…somebody needs to put this guy on a short leash.

  6. @Robert: The Raps probably benefitted from playing some close games against good teams, but the problem is that those good teams were just toying with the Raps. When they needed to flip the switch, they did. Honestly, when the Raps crawled back to within 1 point against Utah in the 3rd, did anyone think they were going to win that game? I didn’t believe that for a second.

    I may watch more of these games when Ed Davis comes back, but only if he plays at the expense of Bargnani. I literally can’t stand watching that useless pansy anymore. The guy can score, albeit not terribly efficiently, he spaces the floor, plays decent man-to-man on some bigs, and that’s literally it. I don’t need advanced metrics to tell me that he sucks, because it’s pretty fucking obvious that there is not one other area of the game that he does well, and in fact he’s an enormous liability in these areas. I can’t believe fans are even debating his merits anymore. If it doesn’t bother you, severely, that he rebounds at a poorer rate than Daniel Gibson (just saw that on Ball Don’t Lie and almost tore my eyes out), than you are a hopeless homer.

    After all these years, he’s still the starting 5 on this team (oops, I just tore one eye out), and he can’t do a damn thing other than shoot the ball and beat real centers off the dribble. I’ve been a diehard since this team was formed, and they’re seriously the only sports team I care about, but the combination of BC, Triano and MLSE is turning me off like never before. When a franchise rewards failure like this (of course BC is due an extension!), how the hell am I supposed to care?

  7. Love the video, loads fast and good quality! Nice to see Triano sit Barg’s in the 2nd half. You get the feeling Barg’s could be a good defender if he just gave a shit. Even 6 or 7 boards would make such a big difference. Sigh. He needs to be held accountable. Weems is pissing me off. Our new default chucker. Let him go to Cleveland and fight for minutes with Jamario. When’s Ed Davis gonna be read to roll?

    That said, the tanking is proceeding as “planned”.

  8. Sanders and dekerf: Glad you like the new feature. I’ve had some people request that I “jazz up” the videos in After Effects or something, but I’m not trying to do anything fancy here. I just think it’s useful to provide some visuals to go along with my points.

  9. If you want to jazz it up, maybe a teleprompter and draw lines all over the screen. Really, you get what you’re saying, anyway.

    I could have chosen about a dozen other plays where Bargnani simply was clueless on defense. I’m not blaming him for all the Raptor ills, but considering he’s supposed to be such a big part of the future of the franchise, I’d hope he wouldn’t be such a liability in two major areas.

  10. Bench Andrea…

  11. There is a problem in the organization at many levels which reflects on the floor.
    At one point they had that Maurizio guy (the one who told BC that Andrea was the next big think and not sure if he’s still there) as some sort of consultant.
    Actually BC was always told what to do, even in Phoenix by his dad, so he’s just continuing the same thing in TO.
    Triano is not an NBA coach and never will be., he’s there because he is canadian.
    The organization is in big trouble. Stern is talking about contraction etc…
    Forget what is happening on the court, the real problems are upstairs.

  12. “There is a problem in the organization at many levels which reflects on the floor.”

    Maybe if the floor wasn’t so shiny that wouldn’t happen.

  13. “At one point they had that Maurizio guy (the one who told BC that Andrea was the next big think and not sure if he’s still there) as some sort of consultant.
    Actually BC was always told what to do, even in Phoenix by his dad, so he’s just continuing the same thing in TO.
    Triano is not an NBA coach and never will be., he’s there because he is canadian.
    The organization is in big trouble. Stern is talking about contraction etc…
    Forget what is happening on the court, the real problems are upstairs.”

    Considering you don’t even know whether Maurizio Gherardini still is with the organization, let alone what his job is, is it safe to say the rest of your comment should be ignored?

    - Do you have any proof that Colangelo was simply doing his father’s bidding, or is this just a completely uninformed opinion?

    What is the advantage to having a Canadian as the head coach? Does it bring in more fans or more corporate sponsors?

    And why on earth would they contract one of the most profitable teams in the league, despite not being successful on the floor, in a city with a fan base half the league would kill for? Could it be that perhaps you know not what you are talking about?

  14. Scott,

    I think the Weems fast-break was better than the one prior, where Barbosa threw it to the GS player on a 4-on-1. Is Barbosa the worst passing guard in the league? I don’t know how he can expect to have vision, dribbling with his head-down. Heck, I would make the point that Reggie Evans is a better passer…



  15. Word, Tim. That’s all I want to say, but apparently you can’t post a two word comment. Weird.

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