Il Mago Disappearing

It’s no secret that Andrea Bargnani is struggling in his return to the lineup after a second calf injury, but the numbers really do paint an ugly portrait.

Eight games into his return, Bargnani is averaging just 12.5 points, 4.8 rebounds, 2.1 assists and 0.3 blocks. Even worse, he’s shooting 35 per cent from the field, is three-of-21 from deep, and hasn’t hit the 20-point barrier once since coming back. His Player Efficiency Rating, which was in the low-to-mid 20′s and among the best in the league after 13 games played, has plummeted to 17.68. That’s still above average, but it’s a stark contrast from where he was.

A lot of people seem to be blaming Andrea’s long absence for his rapid decline, and while I think that’s fair to a certain extent, it doesn’t totally excuse his lack of production. I don’t think anyone was expecting the return he had earlier in the season, when he dropped 61 points over two games in Phoenix and Utah after missing two weeks with the original injury, but were they expecting more than this? Yes, and rightfully so.

To his credit, at least Bargnani seems to be owning up to his putrid play. After last night’s six point, five rebound performance, where his assist total (six) was the only positive, Bargnani stated matter of factly multiple times in his post game scrum, “I’m playing really bad offensively.” Yes, Andrea, yes you are.

He also added that while his offensive game has fallen off a cliff, he is trying to play defence and “make the extra pass.” Bargnani’s defensive focus still looks better than last year and seasons prior (how can it not?), but again, it’s nowhere near what we saw in his first 13 games, where he left every ounce of himself on the court.

Watching him over the last couple of weeks, I honestly don’t think this slump is an effort issue, unlike his struggles in previous years. I just think for whatever reason, maybe the injury, tentativeness to go full throttle again for fear of re-aggravating the injury, whatever, Andrea looks uncomfortable out there, and doesn’t seem to have the quickness, the lift or the burst he used to perfection in December and January.

The fact that Bargnani actually acknowledges his poor play and is aware of the importance placed on defence, sadly, is a baby step and a welcomed change from the Andrea of old. But at a certain point down the stretch of this season, we’re going to need to see some results, not necessarily All Star type results like we did at the beginning of the season, but results nonetheless, unless we want to chalk this campaign up as another write-off in his tumultuous career, as Scott mentioned in his thoughts on Wednesday’s game.

If you read RaptorBlog over the last couple of seasons, you know that I was as critical of Andrea’s effort and attitude as anyone else, but I really don’t believe that “Old Andrea” is back. I just think “New Andrea” is having a tough time breaking out of this nasty funk.

Based on the immense promise he showed in that small early season sample, and based on the fact that he seems much more accountable, much more personable, and just a whole lot easier to root for this year, I really am hoping Andrea gives us something to look forward to for next season.

Comments (30)

  1. “I really am hoping Andrea gives us something to look forward to for next season.”

    Well, there may not be a next season in Toronto for him, depending how the Toronto draft pick plays out. I think almost any big man in this years lottery would be an upgrade over him, especially defensively.

    In contrast to you, I really am hoping that the Raptors can get a new PF this off season. The Bargnani experiment hasn’t exactly failed, but it certainly hasn’t lived up to the expectations of a number 1 overall pick.

    • the Bargnani experiment hasn’t failed?

      Did I miss something? Its still 2012 right?

      • Well clearly you and I had different expectations of Bargnani.

        If you expected him to be a superstar, and the Italian version of Dirk Nowitzki like many thought he would be, then ya, hes failed, and failed big time. He’s not going to come anywhere close to Dirk.

        But I expected him to be almost exactly what he is. A 7-footer who can score 20PPG, can shoot 3′s, but doesn’t rebound, and doesn’t defend well. And that’s exactly where he is in 2012.

        Thus, he hasn’t necessarily failed in my eyes, but certainly hasn’t lived up to the expectations everyone expected from him being a #1 overall pick and changing the franchise.

        • I expect him not to be a drag on the team, to be worth his 10 mil dollars, and to put an effort in every night

          If you expected him to be nothing more than a streaky bulk shooter than sure I guess the experiment didn’t fail. But those are some low standards.

        • @ BP:

          ‘But I expected him to be almost exactly what he is. A 7-footer who can score 20PPG, can shoot 3′s, but doesn’t rebound, and doesn’t defend well.’

          Isn’t that exactly what Dirk Nowitzki is? The main difference between him and Bargnani is the grit/’clutchness’ factor, which is enough to call them 2 different players.

          Wasn’t trying to flame you dude, I know what you meant and you know your basketball.

          • Well, the thing is a lot of people said he would be the next Nowitzki. But even now, that comparison doesn’t fit well IMO.

            You’re right though. That’s one of the biggest differences between Dirk and Andrea. Dirk has that competitive drive, and he has that clutch factor that Andrea doesn’t. Now that doesn’t mean Andrea won’t ever have it, but if hasn’t shown it by now, chances are he never will, because that’s something you can’t teach, you just either have it or you don’t.

            Dirk has been an all-star since his 4th year and the league, and has been one ever since. You could make a case for him being an all-star in his 3rd year as well. Dirk has also been in the playoffs ever since his 3rd year in the league.

            Andrea has now played his 6th season in the league, and nothing to show for it other than being along for the playoff ride with Bosh’s team.

            But that being said, there are still a number of differences between Dirk and Andrea. Dirk rebounds the ball, is a pretty good defender, and has the ability to lead a team (MVP, finals MVP). He has been the leader of that team since Nash left, as well as when they had Nash.

  2. Holy shit, another season?

    How many times are we going to do this?

    • I guess until BC finally figures out that Andrea isn’t the guy he expected and trades him. Or maybe he has figured it out, and just doesn’t want to admit it.

      Either way, I think if they ever want to get to that contending level, he’s got to traded while he actually has some value. Both him and Jose.

      • We already had that chance to sell high on both Calderon and Bargnani and it didn’t sound like BC even strongly considered it.

        As I’ve been saying for months, he just isn’t the guy that can fully take the plunge it requires to truly rebuild, he has no other option at this point.

        • Ya, I agree PBI, its really unfortunate he doesn’t want to go to all-in rebuild mode isn’t it? Could have had an additional first rounder or two, and they team may have had a direction.

          Right now, it’s just a mess. They finally get to a defensive attitude, which is great, yet they keep what are probably their two worst defenders on the team. Very confusing.

          This off season will be important, and will say a lot as to how committed he is to rebuilding.

  3. Raps fans anticipating the big breakout from Bargnani….in his 7th season?

    Wow…can we please draft a PF, trade Andrea for a decent young point, and end this sad chapter in Raps history?

    • I would trade Bargnani straight up for Rodney Stuckey…most people would laugh at that deal, but Stuckey would be at least as effective as Bargnani on this team.

      He scores a little bit less, but than he passes more, rebounds about the same (lol), and plays excellent defense at a position where we desperately need it.

      He might not be a traditional 1, but how many of those are there?

      Makes sense for Detroit as well, as they are set at the 1 and 5, and could use a 4.

      • There’s a reason Detroit moved him from the PG position. He isn’t one. And when he plays the PG the team suffers.

        The fact that there aren’t a lot of true PGs isn’t a good reason not to try and get one. In fact, I’d say it’s more of a reason to try and find one because your team will have an advantage.

        • IMO Stuckey’s success isn’t solely due to the shift from 1 to 2. He’s matured a lot, as have other key members of the Pistions, and he has a new coach. All of which definitely helped, it’s not just the position change.

          Yes he’s definitely a combo guard, but hes a good one, and most point guards in this league aren’t traditional pass first. He is explosive, scores, gets to the line with ease, he’s a great defender, and he’s still improving. He essentially replicates the offensive production of Bargnani, but also gives you the perimeter D and overall tenacity that this team desperately needs.

          I’m willing to go on record and say that, barring injuries, by next year Stuckey will be considered too good to be traded for Bargnani. Not a knock on Bargnani, I just really feel that Stuckey’s emerging.

          Anyway, this is all a pipe dream. A deal like this makes too much sense to actually happen.

          • Stuckey is a decent player who should never, ever lead a team. The ability to run an offense is massively underrated, and why Calderon continues to be the PG for the Raptors.

            I also hate the argument that most PGs in the league aren’t pass first. The great ones can get away with it (somewhat) because they’re, well, great. The less than great ones struggle to lead their teams anywhere but mediocrity because their teams are inconsistent offensively.

            And however great Russell Westbrooke is as a player, Oklahoma will struggle again in the playoffs this year as they did last year because he doesn’t make his teammates better or understand how to run an offense.

            I’d rather the Raptors not copy a very flawed example.

            Unless you’re suggesting Stuckey be a backup, I say no thanks.

          • Agree with Tim. I’ve never particularily liked Stuckey as a PG. I’ve always thought he was just a good player on a bad team, not really a great overall player, or a leader. He would be better suited as an extra piece to an already contending team.

            I actually don’t know why the Pistons resigned him, because they should be building that team around Monroe and Knight + this years pick.

  4. What trade value does Bargnani have at this point? Who would give up a decent young PG for him?

    I don’t think the team has a choice but to hold it’s breath and hope he goes back to playing at a high level next year, irrespective of if they get a big man with their draft pick. The worst thing that could happen is he gets traded for scrap bits then breaks out for another team.

    • I don’t quite understand the “trade value” argument for keeping Bargnani.

      Why would the GM who has invested 7-8 years in scouting/drafting/developing him deal him if he plays up to his capabilities (whatever they may be or whatever they are perceived to be)? The fact that he has stuck with this disaster for 6 years tells you that is something that would never happen so the only way he is off this roster is if BC is fired and someone else is able to evaluate him with a clear head/no bias or if he’s dealt for 50 cents on the dollar because he’s just not consistent enough to sustain high value without BC falling in love with him during every stretch he plays well.

      It’s something that is holding this organization hostage and needs to be addressed.

    • Decent meaning similar in value to Bargnani. I never said Bargnani is garbage. I’m just saying that in a draft with many solid PF prospects, we should take one, and flip Bargnani, who is decent himself, for a decent young point.

      That way, we can attempt to build a core around players of a similar age (JV, young PF, young PG, Derozan/Davis).

      Instead, Colangelo will likely to try to build a contender with Bargnani and Valanciunas, and we’ll continue to be force-fed this apparent franchise player talent who hasn’t been given enough time, even though he’s been in the league for seven years.

      • Yeah, what I’m saying is that there is no ‘decent young point’ that we could trade Bargnani for and get equal value. Certainly I like the idea, but I’m not convinced there are many teams out there that would give up an asset for the guy similar in value.

  5. lets call a spade a spade and accept Bargnani is inconsistent and unreliable. He should no longer be in the long term plans of this team.

    He keeps saying he needs to play better D and then he doesn’t. He keeps saying he has to rebound better than he doesn’t. He talks about playing in the paing and then doesn’t.

    Casey talks about a new culture, a new approach a new vision. Lets emprace that and accept its time for this team to move on. Hope he finishes the season strong so he has some decent trade value.

  6. Wow, you guys are incredible. Bargnani thrived under Dwayne Casey before his injury/absence. I’d give him at least one more shot in the Fall.

    • Define thrived? It was for 13 games. He averaged only 6 rebounds per game (still horrible for a big man) and despite trying harder on defense, he was still not very good at it.

      To put Bargnani’s 13 games into perspective, Jerryd Bayless averaged 22.5 ppg, 5.6 apg, 1.1 spg and 3 rpg in 8 games as a starter at the end of last season. No one thinks that he can keep that up over an entire season.

      Bargnani has played 5 and 3/4 seasons. And during that span, he had 13 games when he played at a level that most were happy with.

      Bargnani has had more “shots” than any NBA player I have ever seen.

      • On the defence part, Bargs was playing very well defensively early in the season, and actually had the highest individual defensive efficiency in the NBA when he went out with the original calf injury. I’m not saying 11 games should erase prior failures, and I’ve been as frustrated with Bargnani as anybody, but to say that earlier this season he was “not very good” defensively is just plain wrong.

        • How much of that can be attributed to Casey’s system ie the team playing at a much slower pace and offense league wide being down in general?

        • Bargnani had the highest individual defensive in the NBA in a very small sample size. Not to mention the fact that he always defended the less productive front court player.

          And overall, Bargnani WAS still a below average defender, even at the beginning of the season. He still didn’t seem to understand where to be a lot of the time, would be out of position, would turn his back to the ball at the wrong moments, etc. People mistake Bargnani’s increased effort to mean that he had actually become a good defender. And it simply wasn’t true. He’d certainly improved, but that doesn’t equal becoming even decent, unfortunately.

          For a starting big man in the NBA, Bargnani simply was not a very good defender, even during his 13 game stretch.

  7. I can’t believe I’m defending Bargs, but his pick and roll defence was and still is way better than it ever was, and that counts as team defence. I have never and will never defend his atrocious rebounding.

    I trashed the guy for most of the last 5 seasons and thought he turned the corner, miraculously and with Casey’s help, this season. Ultimately, you have to go with the greater sample size and if he doesn’t return to that early season form very soon, he may write his own ticket out of town.

    People are sleeping on Jared Sullinger. Assuming he clears the medical tests, he looks to me like a legit candidate for BPA after Davis and would pair pretty nicely with JV.

    • Yes, Bargnani’s pick and roll defense is better than it ever was. No one is denying his improvement. Just the fact that he’s improved enough that he’s more than below average.

      You just have to watch the game over the course of a game. He’s still got a low defensive IQ, which will prevent him from being much more than a below average overall defender. When he doesn’t have to make decisions, Bargnani is fine. When he’s forced to do something other than react, that’s where problems arise.

    • Sullinger could be a good NBA player, but I wouldn’t go as far to say BPA (best player available?) after Davis. The thing is, he reminds me a lot of Kevin Love while he was at UCLA. Big body, but not very quick or athletic.

      He will have to lose a lot of weight (like Kevin did) if he wants to be successful in the NBA. Right now, I can’t see him being more than a Glen Davis type player.

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