Raptors Cage

From Hero To Zero: Andrea Bargnani

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Since the post-Chris Bosh era took place in Toronto, it was fairly evident who was next in line to be the new face of this Raptors’ franchise. Although there wasn’t an extraordinary amount of talent on the Toronto Raptors’ squad since the departure of Chris Bosh, there was still one man who was believed to be able to carry the torch.

That being: Andrea Bargnani

The Beginning

With being granted the 1st overall pick back in 2006, the Toronto Raptors had themselves quite the decision when deciding who they were going to select on Draft day. With quite a few big names in that Draft Class (Rudy Gay, LaMarcus Aldridge, and Brandon Roy just to name a few), the Toronto Raptors had many options to choose from. Even with some big names on the draft board, the Toronto Raptors decided to go with a rather less-popular pick (surprise, surprise), as they drafted the likes of Andrea Bargnani.

A 7’0 foot Center out of Italy, Bargnani was no ordinary big, as he had himself an excellent perimeter game. He could stretch the floor better than most big men at the time, and could shoot it with the best of them. However, like most players, he had some noticeable flaws to his game. While being as big as he was, Bargnani was an awful rebounder, and a rather poor defender as well. Many scouts and NBA executives questioned his ability to be a dominant force inside, mainly due to the fact he was not physical, and could not rebound the basketball. Despite drawing comparisons to future hall of famer Dirk Nowitzki, some questioned whether Bargnani could be a potential All-Star caliber PF/C in this league.


Image Source: waldersworldofsports.com


While beginning his career with the Toronto Raptors, Bargnani was one of the key pieces in leading Toronto to their best season yet (Atlantic Division Champs). Coming in as a rookie, Bargnani looked really comfortable adjusting to the NBA game, as he developed a role coming off of the bench.

Bargnani gave the Raptors some much needed secondary scoring, as he showcased his ability to put the ball in the hoop. From the moment he hit the floor in his rookie year, the Raptors knew they had themselves something special in Andrea Bargnani, and the franchise continued to rave about the young man.

Soon enough, all of the hype became a reality, as the Toronto Raptors made him the new face of this franchise. With being the new face of the franchise, meant a bigger role for Bargnani, and he failed to disappoint. While his rebounding totals were still pretty low, Bargnani averaged a career high 21 points in his first season as the focal point on this Raptors team. Many weren’t too fond of the man named “Chris Bosh” in the city of Toronto, thanks enlarge part to Bargnani’s spectacular play. He was improving year-by-year, and many Raptors’ fans were starting to praise the man who once got a lot of criticism on draft day, Bryan Colangelo.

After averaging a career high in points in 2010-2011, the following season was still the same production wise, but Andrea Bargnani was introduced to the “injury bug”. In a locked out year that saw the league shorten the season to just sixty-six games, there was not much room for practice, as well a congested schedule. Bargnani was bothered by a few injuries, and only played thirty-one out of the sixty-six total games. Lots of praise was coming from the man out of Italy, including discussions about him being a potential All-Star in the next couple years.Boy how things changed quickly.

After a busy off-season that saw Colangelo bring in a couple key pieces, including a lottery pick, this was a pretty optimistic year heading into the season. However, all that optimism vanished, and it vanished rather quickly. Starting the year on a 4-19 start, the Toronto Raptors were not the team many thought they would be. The team itself was playing terrible basketball, and so was Bargnani. Although seemingly enough people thought his game would improve as the course of the year went on, it got drastically worse. He suffered an injury that saw him lose his starting job even when healthy, and it just never looked up from there.

Not only has Bargnani battled a ton scrutiny as well, he’s also been the subject of trade talk. From being the face of this franchise, and playing a high-level of basketball for the past couple of years, the Toronto Raptors believe that there former first-overall pick, is in fact holding them back from taking the next step as a franchise. His scoring totals have dropped significantly (averaging 12.7ppg), and has not looked to be the player we once loved and remembered.


Image Source: www.ibtimes.com

From being once loved by so many, the man once recognized as “Il Mago”, is wanted out by the majority of this Raptors’ fan base. Even though Bargnani has not requested a trade, or has not done anything negative to/for this Raptors’ franchise, people are still not giving him the respect he was used to receiving. He’s being booed just about every time he steps on the court, and is given no support whatsoever from the Toronto faithful. Whether it’s his lack of production that is causing continuous frustration by many, let’s just make it clear that booing the former 1st overall pick, or wishing for an horrid injury to happen, isn’t going to lead to anything better. In fact, giving him a little bit of support would be rather encouraging to see, as he’s been the “go-to guy” for quite some time.

Whether or not the future remains bright here in the city of Toronto is a different story, but as of right now, Andrea Bargnani is a Toronto Raptor, and could be going forward. The Raps announced he will be out for the rest of the season today, and with his injury troubles this could be detrimental to his trade value.

He may not be the player he once was, but he’s still a human-being, and is not as bad as an NBA player us fans make him seem to be. Sure, he hasn’t been first-overall material, but he has surely had himself a pretty respectable NBA career so far. Bargnani may have well played his last game as a Raptor, and his value is at an all-time low. It will be interesting to see what happens this offseason, but at this point it’s just amazing how far Bargnani has fallen off.

The sad part is he could be that viable stretch power forward the Raptors need, but the relentless Toronto fan base will likely prevent that from happening.


Image Source: Yahoo Sports


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