Andrea Bargnani: Injury came at the worst time. On the other hand I think this is my best season in the NBA. I improved my defense. I feel like a new, different player. Credit to coach Casey, he has a great influence on the team. For example, we're out of playoffs now but he looks even more motivated. When I came back from my injury and had a couple of good offensive games he took me to watch game tapes and told me he didn't care about my points, he wanted me to play good defense again. This kind of motivation has positive effects. You can really build something with him. I feel sad thinking about years passing without winning, I've always been ambitious. But being a winning team in the NBA is very hard, it takes lots of different things. I try to be the best player I can.
TuttoSport: Is it true that players don't train hard in the NBA?
AB: People saying that are only envious because they're not here. Of course you can have a few games played with less intensity but you always have to look at team schedule. It happens because of fatigue, lack of energy, mental and physical tiredness.
TS: Are you following NCAA basketball?
AB: No, I'm not really interested in NCAA. But my American teammates are crazy about that. These days you can't even talk to Ed Davis, who played for North Carolina. I did follow Anthony Davis though: he has amazing potential. He could already be a dominant defensive player, while he needs to develop his offensive game. This will be a quality draft, every year there are very good players joining the league. You know, there's always someone willing to take your job! Every year is a new start.
TS: What do you think of Amedeo Della Valle (Italian prospect who played for Findlay Prep this year)?
AB: Most important thing is his drive and motivation to improve as a player. I don't know Amedeo personally, if it was his own choice to leave Italy to play high school and college basketball in USA (he's currently considering Arizona and Michigan among others), then it's fine. I think it's a good choice especially for a guard. You're always facing freak athletes.
TS: Your plans at the end of the season?
AB: I'll take a rest, then get in touch with team staff for my training schedule. And I'll make a decision about the national team. Traveling? I'd rather sleep 10 days right now.
TS: Who are the favorites for the championship?
AB: Kevin Durant and his OKC Thunder, absolutely. And keep an eye on the San Antonio Spurs: they play great basketball and they're not getting enough attention. In the Eastern Conference I say Chicago, look at their results without Derrick Rose. Miami Heat are the most talented team in the league, but they're also very inconsistent.
TS: Jeremy Lin?
AB: Greatest story in the NBA.
TS: Kevin Love?
AB: He made huge progress, he's such a solid player. He was already a very good shooter in college, always had a perfect technique.
TS: Marco Belinelli?
AB: He's getting playing time in New Orleans and he's earning himself a very good contract for the future. He worked very hard and I'm sure he'll get that.
TS: You see your future away from Toronto?
AB: No, anyway it's not under my control. And I'm a franchise-player.