Andrea Bargnani And The Raptors Are At A Crossroads

Maybe the Raptors have finally smartened up. After a year where Toronto was basically forced to play leading scorer Andrea Bargnani in the middle for the majority of the season, the Toronto Sun is reporting that Raptors president/general manager Bryan Colangelo is making it his number-one priority to find a rugged center to stick next to Bargnani:

With Bargnani’s future in Toronto rather murky, Colangelo admitted the obvious. “Miscast” as a centre, Bargnani was not thriving or lifting the team from that spot.

“We need a bigger, better post presence,” Colangelo said, noting that seven-footers who excel on the boards and defensively are keys to success.

“Defending the rim is one of the main weaknesses we have, we need to get a guy who rebounds the ball.”

Colangelo said nobody on the roster is “untradeable” and did not discount the possibility he would move the top selection of the 2006 draft, but said either way, a centre must be added.

Colangelo thought he had a center in Tyson Chandler when Charlotte and Toronto agreed on a complicated trade last year. But the deal ultimately fell through, and Chandler ended up in Dallas where he has been a catalyst for one of the better defenses in the league.

Bargnani put up a career-high 21.4 points a game this season, but even at seven-feet tall, he barely averaged five rebounds a night. His blocks also dipped in half from the 2009-10 season (1.4 to 0.7 a game). His total rebound rate of 8.6 (the percentage of available rebounds that a player grabbed while on the floor, courtesy of Basketball-Reference) was by far the lowest of his entire career. I could go on; pretty much every statistic points to Bargnani having the worst defensive season of his career.

In a way, it’s expected. The Italian carried Toronto nearly every night offensively, but that comes with a price. His effort on defense obviously suffered. Partly because of this, the Raptors were dead last in the entire league in defensive rating.

It’s obvious Bargnani is a talented scorer, but if the Raptors hope to get the most out of his talents, they must find a rugged center to pair with him. Either that, or perhaps part ways. Colangelo told the Toronto Sun that no player in untouchable, not even the No. 1 pick from the 2006 NBA Draft pick:

The veteran GM certainly won’t give away Bargnani.

“The enigma of all enigmas is Andrea … he’s proven to be a legitimate 20-point scorer and I think he has more where that comes from and has another level to reach,” Colangelo said.

“Clearly he has not done the things that we would all like to see and that’s get better at rebounding the ball and defending the rim. He’s far from a perfect player but he’s a valuable asset for this organization nonetheless … a considerable asset for this organization despite what many think otherwise.”

At 25 years old, this upcoming season could mark a turning point in Bargnani’s career, for good or bad.

What do you think Toronto should do?

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