Sunday Thought - Who's the Face of the Raptors Next Season?

Continuing the HQ's trend of "deep thoughts," Franchise wonders just who the real face of the Toronto Raptors will be next season...

Happy Labour Day long weekend everyone.

This came out a few days ago and we tweeted it at the time, but I came across it again randomly today and thought it was worth a post.

Because of the hot model with Andrea?

Well...possibly.

More so however, I always find it interesting to see Bargs in these type of situations because he just never really looks comfortable.  Even in the locker room he's a bit spotty and while he's much better than even a year or two ago in terms of his media work, it makes me wonder how he'll adjust to being the face of the franchise next season.

But is he the face of the franchise?

One of the least discussed things this off-season is just that; who replaces Chris Bosh as this team's most recognizable player?

If you're judging by the latest version of NBA Jam, it's Andrea, who is paired with none other than Jose Calderon in the classic arcade remake.  (Does that make Jose the second most recognizable face then I wonder?)

However much of the off-season media attention has been on the self-dubbed Young Gunz; Sonny Weems, DeMar DeRozan and Amir Johnson.  (And, Ed Davis and Jarrett Jack apparently.)  

They've garnered the media hype thanks to some impromptu runs with fans, autograph sessions, and of course their play in Summer League.  Bargnani may be playing for his Italian National Team, but he's flown relatively under the radar.

And I'm wondering if that's not a good thing.

The fact of the matter is that regardless of how you feel about Andrea, he's really the most proven player left on the Toronto Raptors.

Think about it for a second.

Hedo's gone, Bosh - see ya, and who knows if Jose will ever be the same assist machine again.

Jarrett Jack has been solid so far throughout his career, but there's no one expecting him to suddenly take an All-Star leap.

And the rest of the roster?

Leandro Barbosa has looked solid in the FIBA World's, but he's coming off an injury-plagued season, and who knows how he'll fit.

Julian Wright?

Amir Johnson?

Linas Kleiza?

Joey Dorsey?

None of these guys have shown that they can consistently get the job done at an NBA level yet.

And that goes double for the rooks Ed Davis and Solomon Alabi, as well as their Young Gunz co-founders, Weems and DeRozan.

Yes, the somewhat harsh reality is that this team next year is really a wild-card affair and aside from Bargs (and arguably Reggie Evans), you're just not sure what you're going to get.

Even with Andrea this is somewhat true.

I'm pretty sure he'll be able to drop 20 points a game on average considering he averaged 17 last year, but the other elements of his game?  I'd say that's anyone's guess.

Bryan Colangelo has often been quoted as saying Bargs has "ice in his veins" but I've yet to really see that as a Raptor.  He's made some big shots, but more often than not I've found he's become invisible in key moments, last year when Chris Bosh was out of the line-up being the best example.

That's why I'm thinking that all this "Young Gunz" attention is a good thing.

Andrea can let the more naturally colourful youngsters grab the spotlight, and perhaps then he can focus on improving his game and taking that proverbial "next step" that fans have been waiting for.

If he can do that, then suddenly teams need to key in on him, and this then I'd argue would conversely be a great benefit for the Raptors' youngsters, allowing them to get space on the court and not have to carry all of the load.

Because right now you have to believe that the team's image, character and swagger is going to come from the likes of Sonny, DeMar and Amir.

I think that's a good thing on various levels, from image around the league, to image off-court in terms of sales and marketing.  To me Bargnani is not a "face of the franchise" type player, nor will he ever be, but perhaps that suits him just fine.  Just like a GQ photo shoot, maybe Andrea is happy to be acknowledged, but perhaps not comfortable with the spotlight solely shining on him.

And hey, if that means he can focus on a 20 and 10 season then bring on the Young Gunz.

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