He's put up some great scoring numbers, but international play has done little to suggest that there's more to Andrea Bargnani than meets the eye.
With some assistance from one of SB Nation's bloggers, taking in Eurobasket 2011, the HQ offers some concluding thoughts on Andrea Bargnani...
On Monday we discussed Andrea Bargnani's play in recent international action and it wasn't exactly the most positive review.
Perhaps it came to no surprise to most but we concluded that while some of his offensive statistics looked ok, the rest of his game, even in Eurobasket action, left us wanting a lot more.
Interestingly, yesterday, one of SB Nation's bloggers, the infamous Zorgon B from Welcome to Loud City, sent us a note regarding Bargs' play as he's been taking in the action live overseas.
Here was his report on Andrea:
From the few games I've seen him play in the NBA, it's clear to me that Andrea Bargnani has two sides. One side is the poor man's Dirk Nowitzki, the man who can shoot the lights out of the arena and play adequate defense, but the other side is the streaky shooter who can doom your team with several missed shots and defense that practically doesn't exist. In this game, I saw a bit of both.
Offensively, he was on the good side. He was playing more aggressively than I've ever seen him, going toe to toe with Joakim Noah and even driving the lane for a tough dunk at one point. Of course, he would at times be too overconfident in his abilities and miss tough, off-balance jumpers. But he was the most consistent scorer for Italy overall, and you couldn't have asked more from him on that end.
But, he showed his bad side tonight as well. He couldn't stop anybody inside, be it Noah, Ali Traore, or any variety of driving guard. It almost seemed as if every other scoring play involved him failing defensively in some way, almost canceling out his offensive effectiveness.
The most disappointing thing about Bargnani is that he didn't seem to be a true leader on the court. Most of his scores happened because he beat his opponent in some way, and didn't really involve any other member of the team. He didn't make his team mates better, either. He wasn't really a part of plays that weren't meant for him, and he wasn't much help on the boards. When it came down to the wire, Italy couldn't do much but give Bargs the ball and hope he hit a tough jumper that the entire crowd expected. In the end, Bargnani is still the player that we all think he is. A great scorer, but a terrible defender, and someone who could never be the best player on a successful team.
A big thanks to Zorgon for that perspective, an interesting one to me in that even as an outside observer, and blogger for a separate team, he still came to the same conclusions that many of us have at this point regarding Andrea.
Are we beating a dead horse now?
Possibly, although not intentionally.
When I asked Zorgon to take a look in at Andrea while he was overseas, it may have resulted in a positive review of his play for all I knew.
Yet here we are, flogging away, yet again.
In some ways though, this analysis has me excited for the future.
We know what to expect from Bargs after five years, (some would argue we've known after three or less) and his play in Eurobasket 2011 does nothing to make me think that we're way off the mark. Maybe now instead of constantly critiquing Andrea's game, we can start discussing strategies about his use; how the Toronto Raptors can use him to create mismatches and even as a decoy for guys like Ed Davis and DeMar DeRozan.
Yes, there are flashes of "what could be" still that will tease Raptors' fans for as long as he's a member of the Dinos. After all, Bargnani had a very impressive game statistically on Monday, dropping 26, 11 and 3 on the Israeli team, shooting some nice percentages along the way.
However his arguably more talented Italian team failed to pull out the W again, and that's really the bottom line here.
To paraphrase Zorgon, Bargs simply can't be your best player if you're hoping to be a successful team, and the key now is for the Raptors to find a way to use Andrea to his strengths, either as a starter or off the pine. If you're going to keep pretending this is the player who should be getting the bulk of minutes in every situation, and who should have the highest usage rates on the team, expect to see a lot more 20-some win campaigns like last year.
Let's hope this season, assuming there is a season, is the season the Toronto Raptors finally realize this.