Top 10 Myths About Andrea Bargnani

Posted on September 17, 2010 | 49 Comments

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I’ve had a couple of posts dedicated to Andrea Bargnani, but why not one more.

I don’t know whether there has ever been a Raptor who has ever been such a lightening rod for debate than Bargnani. It’s been mentioned by many that if you want to get your hit count up, just write a post abut Bargnani. Well, I’m certainly not going to be left out, so here is mine.

I find one thing about Bargnani is that there are a lot of myths about him that people seem to have latched onto and use in order to back up their opinion. Unfortunately, many of them are simply not true. As always, your input is always appreciated, so please leave a comment whether you agree with me or not.

[Edit: Kshiz, over on his excellent blog, has a somewhat different take on Bargnani, here and here. Keep in mind, that while I disagree with his premise, he presents his case intelligently and without resorting to namecalling, even in the comments section where the two of us debate his posts.]

Andrea Bargnani gets a rare inside basket10. BARGNANI IS A TOP TEN CENTER

There was a poll recently on Raptors Republic that asked whether Bargnani is a top ten center. Half of the respondents answered yes, which was rather disconcerting. I’m not sure whether these people simply HOPE he’ll be a top ten center, or whether they just value offense over defense and rebounding, but the way Bargnani is right now, he’s not.

The main argument seems to be that Bargnani is such a great scorer that he’s obviously a top ten center. Well, not quite. First of all, according to ESPN, Bargnani was 6th among centers in scoring this season, a hair above Al Jefferson. It’s certainly not ridiculous to argue that he has a chance to be the top scoring center in the league this season. No center scored more than 20.2 ppg last season and without Bosh, it’s possible Bargnani could average more than that.

And while it’s certainly possible, although no probable, that Bargnani could end up being the top scoring center, does that automatically make him a top ten center? Well, no. Again, that brings us back to defense and rebounding.

Last season, Bargnani was 45th in the league in rebounding, despite being 42nd in minutes per game. 16 centers grabbed more rebounds than Bargnani did last season. All but 2 played fewer minutes than Bargnani. Per minute, Bargnani is even worse. He’s 79th overall or 30th in rebounding among centers. In fact, Bargnani was the second worst rebounding center in the entire league, ahead of only Ryan Hollins. And the only PFs who are worse rebounders are guys like Jeff Green and Rashard Lewis, who are naturally small forwards. Needless to say, Bargnani is a very, very poor rebounder.

Just looking at his statistics, Bargnani certainly isn’t a top ten center. John Hollinger’s PER is renowned for not paying attention to defense, and last season Bargnani was 27th among centers. However much I don’t like the PER rating, it does give a good idea of the on court production of a player. What I don’t like is that it doesn’t properly take into consideration defense. Of course, defense isn’t a Bargnani strong suit, either.

Bargnani is a pretty good post defender, in certain circumstances, but he’s certainly a poor defender overall. So if not even the PER rating, which mostly ignores defense, doesn’t place him in the top ten, why on earth would anyone rank him that high if you include defense?

Offensively, I’d say he is a top ten center. Overall, there’s no way.

Just for the record, here are the centers I believe are inarguably better than Bargnani. Notice there are more than 10. And keep in mind I only included legit centers, so no David Lee, Al Jefferson or even Tim Duncan, who probably is a center, but is generally listed as a PF.

In no particular order:

Dwight Howard
Brook Lopez
Andrew Bogut
Andrew Bynum
Greg Oden
Chris Kaman
Joakim Noah
Marc Gasol
Al Horford
Nene
Mehmet Okur
Yao Ming
Marcus Camby
Kendrick Perkins

Most are not the scorer that Bargnani is, but all are better defenders and rebounders than Bargnani is.

A good matchup for Bargnani9. BARGNANI IS A GOOD INTERIOR DEFENDER BECAUSE HE BLOCKS A LOT OF SHOTS

One claim that some people make is that Bargnani is a good shotblocker so he MUST be a good interior defender. Well, no. Just as someone who gets a lot of steals is not automatically a great defender. Two perfect examples. Joe Dumars is one of the better perimeter defenders of all time, yet never averaged more than 1.1 spg his his entire career.  On the other hand, Micheal Williams, who played his best years in Indiana and Minnesota, was a virtual sieve on defense, yet one year was second in the league in steals.

Same goes for blocks. One of the best big man defenders of all time was Dennis Rodman, who never even averaged a block per game. Karl Malone was another excellent defender who only averaged more than 1 bpg once in his entire career.

Personally, I love playing against shotblockers because they often aren’t good defenders. They fall for fakes, are often out of position on defense and leave their man too quickly, making it easy to pass to them for a layup. A guy like Tyrus Thomas is a great shotblocker, but not a great defender. This is the case with Bargnani.

Bargnani actually gets a lot of his blocks on his man posting him up, often times without ever leaving his feet. He’s pretty good at doing this and CAN be a good post defender because he doesn’t leave his feet. What he is not, however, is an intimidating lane presence. Players don’t see him waiting for them and think twice. In fact if they see him waiting in the lane, it’s often an invitation to drive the ball. Once in a while he’ll get a block, but more often than not, the offensive player will get a layup.

Now one excuse I have heard is that Bargnani simply looks bad because Jose Calderon is such a poor defender that it puts too much pressure on Bargnani. Of course this doesn’t explain why Mike Bibby, Jameer Nelson and Tony Parker, despite being poor defenders, don’t make Tim Duncan, Dwight Howard, Josh Smith and Al Horford look bad.

8. BARGNANI IS A GOOD PASSER

I read all the time that Bargnani is a very good passer because he made a great pass in this game or that game. The problem is that there’s a difference between someone who makes a good pass once in a while and a good passer. Despite playing 35 mpg and having the ball enough to take 14.3 shots per game, Bargnani only managed to rack up 1.2 apg. And that was the same average as last season. One of the biggest complaints about him on offense is that he is a black hole. And he was probably less so of one this year than other years, but he still has never, ever managed to rack up more assists than turnovers over the course of a season.

And you certainly can’t use the excuse that he wasn’t given the ball enough because he managed to shoot it a lot. And Sonny Weems certainly didn’t have the ball more than Bargnani, and played nearly half the minutes Bargnani did, but still managed to average more assists per game than Bargnani did.

Any way you look at it, passing is certainly not Bargnani’s forte.

7. BARGNANI SHOULD REBOUND BETTER WITHOUT BOSH

This one confounds me. Apparently with Bosh gone, there should be more rebounds available for Bargnani. So if there weren’t enough rebounds available for Bargnani to grab with Bosh last season, why is it that Toronto was such a poor rebounding team and were consistently outrebounded by their opponent? Obviously there were SOME rebounds that a Raptor player should have grabbed.

And considering that Amir Johnson has very similar rebounding numbers to Bosh, why would there suddenly be more rebounds available? Ed Davis was a good rebounder in college, so it’s likely he’ll be a good rebounder in the pros. That means he’s going to be grabbing his share of rebounds.

One of the most ridiculous statements I’ve read is that there isn’t any team with two guys who average double figure rebounds, so you can’t expect Bargnani to average a lot of rebounds when Bosh does. Considering only 9 guys averaged double figures in rebounds last season, having two guys that do that would be very rare. The Lakers actually had 3 guys who averaged at least 8.3 rpg. And what that did was make them one of the best rebounding teams in the league. If Bargnani had grabbed even a couple of more rebounds a game, the Raptors would have gone from poor to okay. Seven of the bottom ten rebounding teams in the league last year didn’t make the playoffs. It doesn’t take a genius to figure out how important good rebounding is.

That’s the whole problem with Bargnani. He’s not going to help his team on the boards. And no matter who he teams with, it’s going to be the same problem. When Bosh was out last season, Bargnani’s rebounding totals actually went DOWN.

6. BARGNANI HAS IMPROVED EVERY YEAR IN THE NBA

When you look at his per game stats, it appears that Bargnani has improved just about every year in the league. That is proof to many that he will continue to make the same improvements, especially without Bosh. The only problem is that the statistical improvements Bargnani has made since he entered the league have been fairly negligible. What has gone up have been his minutes. Obviously when you play more minutes you’re going to produce more.

I know some people scoff at per36 stats, but they are very useful in certain circumstances, like, for example, seeing how much a player has improved his stats. In four years, Bargnani has increased his scoring by 1.1 ppg, his rebounding by 0.7 rpg, his blocks by 0.2 bpg and his assists by 0.1 apg. This doesn’t describe a player who has improved much. There IS one area where he has made improvements, and that’s fouls. His fouls have dropped by 1.2 fpg, which is one of the main reasons he now is able to play 35 mpg.

In some ways, he’s regressed. He got to the line at a lower rate last season than every before. If Bargnani is playing more inside, shouldn’t he get fouled more? Of course this brings us to the next myth.

5. BARGNANI IS A GREAT SCORER

People mistake being able to score in a variety of ways with being a great scorer. Bargnani is a good scorer. He was 36th in the league in scoring last season, averaging 17.2 ppg. That’s good, but certainly not great. Of course, with Bosh gone, his shots per game will surely go up, right? Maybe.

Bargnani took 14.3 shots per game last season. That’s more shots per game than ANYONE on Boston, Orlando, San Antonio, Utah and Philadephia. Bosh only took two more per game.

The big problem is that Bargnani requires a lot more shots than most scorers in order to get his points because he doesn’t get to the line. Read this post to understand what I’m talking about. As I mentioned previously, Bargnani actually got to the line at a lower rate last season than ever before. And that’s despite taking fewer three point shots. Without the ability to get to the line, Bargnani is going to struggle to score consistently. It’s why the top scorers almost always get to the line at a high rate. When your shots not falling, as will invariably happen, great scorers can still get their points. Bargnani can’t.

4. BARGNANI HAS NOT BEEN GIVEN A CHANCE TO SHINE

This may have been true the first couple of seasons, but the last two seasons, Bargnani has averaged 31.4 and 35 mpg, while taking 12.3 and 14.3 shots per game. This is not a guy who hasn’t been given an opportunity. Most players would kill for the opportunity Bargnani has been given the last couple of years. And when Bosh went down at two different times last season, it was the perfect time for Bargnani to step up. His averaged fewer points and rebounds during that time.

Both Colangelo and Triano have bent over backwards to give Bargnani the opportunity to excel. Colangelo fired Sam Mitchell, in large part, because Mitchell wouldn’t play Bargnani enough. Something Triano has done plenty of.

Last season, Bargnani played MORE minutes per game than Dwight Howard, Amare Stoudemire, Russell Westbrook, Carlos Boozer, Paul Pierce and Tim Duncan, among many other All-Stars or future All-Stars. And this while being a liability on the defensive end and on the boards. On another team he probably would not have gotten those minutes.

And he took MORE shots per game than Carlos Boozer, Tim Duncan, Chris Paul, Brook Lopez, Andrew Bogut, Pau Gasol and Paul Pierce among other players who no one would ever claim haven’t been given a chance. And he’s taken that many shots despite not being an efficient scorer.

No one can honestly say that Bargnani has not been given every opportunity to succeed.

3. BARGNANI IS LIKE DIRK NOWITZKI OR PAU GASOL

When Bargnani came into the league, the guy he was most compared to was Dirk Nowitzki. Both of them were/are European 7 footers who can hit the three and are very mobile for their size. Other than that, there’s very little difference. Dirk has always been able to get to the line at a high rate, making him a more consistent scorer. He was also a better low post scorer and better at getting to the hoop, hence his ability to get to the line. Dirk also took just a season and a half to really become an elite player. In his third season (and his first was the protracted season and he only played 47 games) he averaged 21.8 ppg and 9.2 rpg. After four years, it’s pretty evident that Bargnani is not Dirk Nowitzki.

Of course, another player has surfaced that Bargnani is being compared to, and that’s Pau Gasol.

Unfortunately, unlike Bargnani, Gasol immediately excelled and was immediately an above average rebounder, despite moving from Europe to the NBA game and being asked to play a completely different role than he was used to. And Gasol made the All-Star team in his third season. Bargnani struggled much more with his transition and entering his fourth season he still is a poor rebounder and not close to making the All-Star team.

The one claim that people (falsely) make is that like Bargnani, Pau Gasol was a poor defender his first few years until he went to the Lakers. This is apparently a fact that can be used to show that Bargnani, too, can become a good defender. Unfortunately the premise is completely false.

Gasol did struggle defensively while in Memphis, but that was due to playing center and being overpowered defensively by bigger and stronger players in the post. When he was traded to the Lakers, he moved to power forward where he didn’t have to defend the bigger stronger players, anymore.

And Gasol was actually a half decent defender overall with Memphis, which is why they were one of the best defensive teams in the league the year they won 50 games. And that was partly due to Gasol who, while not a great post defender, was a good defender overall, including team defense.

Bargnani’s strength is actually post defense. It’s the other facets of defense that he struggles with.

2. BARGNANI IS REALLY A POWER FORWARD

This is one of the biggest fallacies about Bargnani. I could write an entire post about this one. The thinking, apparently, is that if Bargnani could play his “natural” position, he would be a better player, including on the boards, on defense and scoring the ball.

First of all, in the NBA, there is no difference between what a center does and a power forward does on offense. It completely depends on the player. Mehmet Okur takes a lot of perimeter shots. In fact 62% of his shots come from outside the paint. And he’s a center. So is Channing Frye, who last year took 88% of his shots from outside of the paint. Meanwhile, Pau Gasol, a power forward as we all know, took 61% of his shots from INSIDE the paint last season. Now it is true that most centers tend to play in the post and score close to the basket, but the two are not necessarily linked. Bill Laimbeer had absolutely no post moves, but won a Championship as the Pistons starting center.

Obviously what Bargnani does on offense has little bearing what position he plays. In actual fact, Bargnani’s offensive skills make him more valuable as a center. With other centers defending him, he can draw them outside and use his quickness against them. Against power forwards, he simply doesn’t have a quickness advantage, so it takes away a big part of his game.

Inside, Bargnani would most certainly have a height advantage against mostly shorter power forwards, but Bargnani is not an inside player. He is a below average post player, doesn’t draw fouls down there and lacks the soft hands to be able to catch quick passes inside. Plus, his whole advantage and allure is that he’s a 7 footer who can shoot the three. Bargnani is above average in one area, and that’s offense. Making him a post player takes that away.

Of course, another argument is that he’ll rebound more at power forward, especially now that Bosh is not there. The belief, apparently, is that Bargnani would have a height advantage over the other power forwards. True, but they would also have a quickness advantage over him. And since grabbing rebounds that come to him isn’t Bargnani’s problem, being taller than his opponent is not going to help. What Bargnani lacks the ability to do is actually GO GET rebounds, and having an opponent that is quicker to the ball than him is a disadvantage.

Besides, the best rebounder on the Raptors last season was Reggie Evans, who is 6’8 and shorter than most other power forwards. One of the best rebounders of all time was Dennis Rodman, who was also 6’8. Three of the top 10 rebounders in the league last season were 6’9 or shorter, including the 6’7 Gerald Wallace. So could you please tell me again how Bargnani’s height advantage is going to get him more rebounds?

Lastly, people claim that moving Bargnani to power forward will lessen him being a liability on defense. Let’s forget the fact that moving him to power forward takes away the ONLY defensive strength the guy has. Bargnani is actually pretty good at defending in the post, especially against less mobile players who can’t beat him off the dribble. And let’s also forget about the fact that Bargnani would now being guarding more mobile players who he generally has trouble defending, especially on the perimeter. Apparently moving Bargnani to power forward would hide his inability to play team defense.

Huh?

Bargnani is still going to be out on the floor, right? So exactly how is he going to be hidden better playing at power forward? Well, again, apparently centers are the interior defenders on the team and the power forward generally doesn’t have to protect the rim at all. Tell this to Josh Smith and Pau Gasol, both of whom are the leading shotblockers on their team and the best interior team defenders. Again, it doesn’t matter what position you play, whether power forward or center. You’re going to be responsible for interior defense because the player driving the ball doesn’t always go to the side where the center is. They usually end up going at the weakest interior defender, and that would be Bargnani.

So Bargnani would gain no advantage on either offense or defense by moving to power forward, and in fact would have more disadvantages. Whether you like it or not, Bargnani’s best position is the one he has been playing for most of his four years on the Raptors. Center.

1. I HATE BARGNANI AND AM BEING TOO HARD ON HIM

A “hater”.

This epithet is the last line of defense in an argument when a player is being criticized too much. It’s a `catch-all’ against all arguments. When you call someone a hater, nothing they say has any weight, so their argument suddenly is invalidated. It’s a great way to ignore a solid argument. Just call them a hater.

So I must be a hater, right? That could be the only explanation of why I criticize Bargnani so much. The only problem is it’s not true. In fact, I have no personal feeling about Bargnani one way or the other. There are a few players I DO have personal feelings towards. I can’t stand Shaq because I think he’s basically a full-grown child who craves attention, and then there was that whole incident about waiting until just before training camp to have surgery on his foot because ”I got hurt on company time, so I’ll heal on company time.”

And as a Canadian who doesn’t have a lot of size or athletic ability, I have a soft spot for Steve Nash. I also like how he conducts himself on and off the court. He’s one of the few professional athletes I actually respect.

Bargnani, however, I don’t like or dislike. He’s simply one of 15 Raptors on the team of which I also have no personal feelings about. After following the NBA for more than 25 years, I’ve come to realize that getting emotionally attached to certain players is pointless. I was disappointed to see Bosh leave the Raptors not because I liked him, but because he was such a good player. I have no more interest in him as a member of the Heat as I do with any other member of the Heat.

That’s not to say I don’t have opinions about their game and basketball in general. I’ve followed the NBA long enough to know what type of players you need on your team to succeed and win a Championship. Going back more than 30 years (that’s all I went back) no team has ever won a Championship with a starting big man who was neither an above average defender or rebounder. Some teams had an average rebounder, but he made up for it by being an above average defender and visa versa. Bargnani is neither. Winning a Championship in the NBA is hard enough. Why make it even more difficult by having a player on your team that, historically, can’t help you win?

As a Raptor fan, I feel it’s my responsibility to want what’s best for my team. And what’s best for my team is for Bargnani not to be on it. Trading him away would not automatically make the team more successful, but having him on it doesn’t help it. I want the Raptors to be successful, and I see Bargnani as a stumbling block to success. I wouldn’t be a fan of the team if I didn’t voice my views.

Of course, I probably wouldn’t be so vocal about my views if Bargnani defenders were more reasonable. When met with a barrage of stats supporting my view, it’s frustrating to be met with an ignorant response that either ignores the evidence or simply dismisses it as meaningless. And even more frustrating are the defenders who continue to bring up the myths I’ve listed as evidence that Bargnani is, or will be, a great player.

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Join the discussion: 49 Comments

Comments

  • http://www.raptorshq.com/ Geoff

    Outstanding post.

  • Brasky

    Very well done. You really nailed it.

  • http://3gotgame.com/kshiz kshiz

    You might be right, but as of this moment, the book on Bargnani hasn’t been written.

    For one, Bargs has fared much much better than total busts like Yi Jian Lian, Brandan Wright, and Tyrus Thomas. It could be a lot worse for Raptor fans and that right there is something to be thankful for.

    Further, even if he didn’t improve one iota from here on out, he’d still be better than many power forwards in the league. And I’d definitely rather have him over guys like LaMarcus Aldridge and Rashard Lewis whose production is roughly similar, but come at a much higher cost. Consider that Rashard Lewis blocks fewer shots, plays worse post D, and rebounds even less than Bargs, but is paid more than double Bargnani’s salary. As of today, the Raptors have a fairly productive player at a relatively reasonable price.

    Add in the prospect of improvement this season, and there’s more reasons for Raptor fans to feel good about Bargnani than less.

  • http://3gotgame.com/kshiz kshiz

    You know what’s funny about this debate though is that I actually agree with most of your points. Bargnani needs to bring it more on D, stop being a lil biy@tch, and grab some boards. I also don’t think it’s incredibly likely that he becomes a superstar either. His per-36 minute stats don’t suggest that – usually players show who they are early on in their careers, as you pointed out.

    But there are still enough mitigating factors that hint at the possibility of improvement. It’s not a foregone conclusion that he won’t make a leap. He’s not like LaMarcus Aldridge who pretty much has revealed his true colors.

    If I had to play weather forecaster, I’d say 20% chance of sunshine and 80% chance of rain. That’s not bad at all.

  • http://www.wearingfilm.com Tim W.

    Geoff & Brasky,

    Thanks. Of course I’ve had a lot of time to craft it since I’ve been saying it in one form or another for years. I just put it all together.

    kshiz,

    You’re right the book hasn’t been written, but we’re well into it and I’ve seen the formula before. I might be surprised, but it’s not likely.

    And I wouldn’t completely write Yi Jian Lian, Brandan Wright, and Tyrus Thomas off. I don’t think any of them are ever going to make an All-Star team, but Thomas showed last season he has the ability to be a productive teammate. And if Wright can actually stay healthy, I think he could end up being a half decent player. Yi, well, I don’t know. You might be right about him.

    Rashard Lewis is vastly overpaid and no one in their right mind would want that on their team, but Lewis is a better all around defender than Bargnani and if he were to move to SF, which is where I think he should (and can) play his rebounding wouldn’t be a problem. Too bad Bargnani can’t do that.

    And while Aldridge is also overpaid, especially in relation to Bargnani, I’d take him over Bargnani simply because he’s a better defender and rebounder. What’s the point of saving that money if you can’t win?

    I was going to mention our little wager about Bargnani in the post, but forgot. I’ll throw it in when I do my season preview post. That is if you’re still up for it…

  • http://3gotgame.com/kshiz kshiz

    Good content for zero work? Yes, please! I’m up for it and it’ll be nice to have a guest contributor on my blog. Thank you in advance! Go Andrea!

  • cmrm123

    Excellent post. I agree with most of your points. The exception is re. the improvement he has shown in many aspects to his game. It may not be reflected in his numbers but you can see improvement in a number of aspects, most particularly, low post offence and his one on one defence. Keep in mind that it takes longer for big men to develop and in Europe, Bargnani played mostly on the perimiter. He has had to learn the big man’s game on the job. I don’t expect stardom, but I do expect that he will crack the bottom half of your top ten.

  • aaron

    Every arguement could be countered. So your oppinion is excepted as a OPPINION and nothing else. Your top 10 with camby, oden, perkins etc better then andrea is garbage stats don’t back it up. I will let his play this season do the talking. You get your cheapshots in then when the season starts we can tell you how stupid you were but you will still argue your points because your ignorant.

  • Pingback: Top 10 Myths About Andrea Bargnani – Toronto Update

  • http://www.wearingfilm.com Tim W.

    cmrm123,

    Thanks for your comment. I do think that Bargnani has expanded his game a little. He’s better in the post than he used to be and has varied his offense, but the problem is that those improvements have not improved his game statistically. He doesn’t get to the line more, he doesn’t rebound any better, he doesn’t score and more than he did. I mentioned that him fouling less has allowed him to play more, which does show he’s made some improvements, but the fact is he hasn’t improved his game as much as many think.

    And while big men take longer to develop, a lot of that is because a lot of big men come into the NBA very raw. Bargnani did not. He was a skilled big man already. And if it takes him longer to develop, why have we seen the statistical improvements you would expect from a developing big man? In order to crap the top ten, he’d have to improve his rebounding and defense and there’s been no indication he can do either. None. Pau Gasol also completely changed his game when he came to the NBA, going from a perimeter shooter to playing inside, but he excelled almost immediately because he was highly skilled.

    aaron,

    Every argument can be countered, but I couldn’t help but notice that you didn’t even try. While you can say that they are opinions, they are backed up pretty strongly by evidence. As for the top ten, statistically, Bargnani is 27th center in the league, (as mentioned in Hollinger’s PER rating), so I wouldn’t say they’re garbage. As for my apparently ignorance, I can’t help but notice that you had absolutely nothing to back up your argument except “I will let this season do the talking”. You may not like my list, but it’s hard to say they’re wrong when you look at the evidence objectively, which it seems you are not doing. Otherwise you wouldn’t have claimed that a) they are cheapshots and b) I am stupid. Thanks for your comment, though.

  • axl t

    Yawn … It’s a nice piece of writing but sorry, rehashing all the bargnani discussion in a way that supports your opinion really doesn’t add much. At the end of the day, it’s up to bargs to show and prove if he’s got another level in him. It’s not like bosh or anyone else has gotten us to the promised land.

  • http://www.wearingfilm.com Tim W.

    axl t,

    Thanks for your comment. It’s true that a lot of this has been taken from different discussions, but I wanted it all in one place, and formulated more clearly than it has been. Obviously it’s up to Bargnani to show more, but my point is that there is no evidence to support the fact that he will. It’s simply blind faith and nothing more. If you want to have faith that Bargnani will be a great player, you can, but you have to admit there is simply no evidence to support it.

    And Bosh certainly didn’t lead the Raptors anywhere, but that doesn’t mean the Raptors should strap their wagon onto another flawed big man. If Raptor fans should have learned anything it’s that true franchise players don’t come along very often and there’s a difference between a really good player and a truly great player. And only a truly great player is going to take your team anywhere.

  • geoff

    the mention of greg oden as a top 10 center translates into me not reading the rest of this article

  • Jim

    Like the post- only thing that makes you lose credibility is:

    “He’s one of the few professional athletes I actually respect.”

    That is ridiculous. Most of these players are not in the NBA because of freak athletic abilities (although some are). Most players work their butts off and have their whole life.

  • TJ

    Wow, you really know how to find fault! I think you need not worry about your hits. I for one won’t read your post ever again. Writing shite just to gets hits is sad, really sad! Let alone all this hate on a player who is a decent player. I’m guessing you’re trying to get a job with Fox news or something, because you seem to write an article purely for the sake of your ego and hits.
    Why all the hate for him, did he bang you’re spouse? Are you even old enough or mature enough to have a spouse?
    I am amazed at how you over look his good qualities and abilities just to make your points. You are a sad blogger, and I hope you move on from this occupation.
    Way to alienate your content and readers who actually follow the team.

  • http://www.wearingfilm.com Tim W.

    geoff,

    Apparently you needed to read a bit more carefully. I stated that those were the centers who were clearly better than Bargnani, and the list had more than ten centers. When healthy, Oden is most definitely better than Bargnani.

    Jim,

    I think you misconstrued what I meant. I certainly have respect for the work that the players have put in to get where they are, but that doesn’t mean I respect them as a person. Lots of people have worked their butts off to get where they are, but it doesn’t make them better people. Michael Jordan worked his tail off, but was an asshole in life. I respect his game, but have little respect for him as a person. Steve Nash actually lives his life in a way I respect, whether or not he’s a professional athlete.

    TJ,

    Well, the post is debunking myths by a player many seem to overvalue. As for my “hate” on him, apparently you didn’t read myth #1. I’m not going to paint rainbows and unicorns for deluded fans who just want to close their eyes to anything negative about their team. If that’s what you want, I guarantee this blog is not for you. I am a realist. I say what I see, whether it’s good or not.

    As for your comment, I do thank you for it, but it’s exactly the type of comment I discussed in my post. You insult the messenger instead of debating the message because you don’t actually have a valid argument. I’m curious why you felt insulted enough by the post to insult me personally. You’re going to have a very bitter life if you feel so insulted by people’s opinions that you react this way.

    Anyway, thanks for reading and increasing my hit count.

  • http://www.raptorsforum.com/blog/ LX

    nice job – I wish I could be as fair – but at this point, after being a patient defender for years, I’m just sick of the ups and downs and all the excuses that go along with his inconsistency.

    What usually gets me the most is the stuff that stats don’t really keep track of – the times where he ends up being a spectator, or rushes a fadeaway from three or four feet out. I still get pangs when I see him hit big shots, but I can’t ignore how many times he loses games almost singlehandedly, and how he kills the whole positives with the rest of the team.

    For me, if he doesn’t bring the right energy every game, then it’s going to be hard for me to get through this season as a Raptor fan.

  • RapthoseLeafs

    .
    Tim,
    Despite this being another Andrea post, I enjoyed your perspective. Fact is, Bargnani threads seem to be the most interesting ones – polar opinions and all. Much better than dissecting Dupree`s effect on the 2010-11 Raptors edition.
    .
    As for some of your points, there are a few concerns I have. That Top 10 Centre poll is one example of “Stats Gone Wild”. I voted yes, even though I don`t believe that. As such, are the results simply a function of polarized opinions. I do think Andrea could be top 10, with the right push and motivation. For the most part, I felt the poll could’ve been worded better. As with a number of surveys, the answer lies in how you ask it. Remember the “Quebec question”.
    .
    As for how you view players, I have some difficulty with your perception. To not “like” a specific player (or players), doesn’t seem like much fun. Watching a professional athlete develop as part of “your” team, is what makes a ‘like-able’ player even more special. It’s a tonic for those times when very little seems right. And with the Raptors (Leafs … Blue Jays … Argos ..), these low points can be tough. Personalities are – in this respect – very much a part of the game. And along with the intricacies of Capology, one can see that the various facets of basketball, each have a quality that shouldn’t be dismissed. That includes liking players.
    .
    As well, dismissing one’s ability to ‘like’ a player, because of an “abandonment hang-up” (ala Bosh), is akin to dismissing someone being a part of your future, because an Ex radically changed your version of utopia.
    .
    Pessimistic as I am that CB knew he was leaving – some think 2 years ago – that level of pessimism doesn’t exist with Andrea. It’s why some Raptor fans ‘cheer’ for Bargnani. He’s ours, and for the most part, seems to like being part of this team. When he first landed on this continent, it was not so much a foreign country Andrea was in – one that “smells different” – but more simply bewilderment, and nervousness. For a European, they are constantly exposed to different cultures, whereas an American (on average), has no clue what that means. Culture is too often, synonymous with terrorism. Beck & Rush Lumbug, case in point.
    .
    That brings me to an outlook that some of us Raptor fans forget – the 2 Rules to being a franchise in Toronto:

    1) They`re Not Coming to Toronto: Melo, Lebron, Wade, K.G., Kobe, that #3 guy from Miami, nor a good number of other top players. Franchise players don`t move here. They move away. For the `tankers` out there, being lucky (unlike New Jersey) may get us that deal-breaker we seek, but for how long.

    2) MLSE does not like Luxury tax land. Never has, and never tried. And yet, the top 8 teams (4 per conference), were amongst the top 9 spending teams – Knicks being the exception (ala Isiah).

    When it comes to Luxury tax, I might even argue it`s better to be a lousy team and paying a luxury tax, then a better team, that`s not in a Luxury tax position.
    .
    You made a reference (as many others have), to Andrea`s ability to defend, or lack thereof. A belief that since Barg`s rebounds didn`t improve in 11 games without Bosh, the same will happen for this season. A conjecture that is derived from a small sample, that is no more relevant, then that poll `determining` Bargnani`s value as a Centre.
    .
    Never-the-less, now that Bosh has `left the building`, it will be interesting to see how things pan out with Bargnani, and whether your myths are really myths. Will Bargs become a better passer – I still think he`s not bad. To me, I see a number of Bargnani`s issues, as being a product of apathy. Why that may be, is not something I understand. To me, I`m curious to find out whether being the alpha male will bring out some of that passion we saw at times. Who the hell knows.
    .
    That’s why I’m looking forward to this season. It’s like someone telling you a movie sucks, and your expectations are so low, that anything seems so much better. And usually it does.
    .

  • RapthoseLeafs

    ["And while big men take longer to develop, a lot of that is because a lot of big men come into the NBA very raw. Bargnani did not. He was a skilled big man already. And if it takes him longer to develop, why have we seen the statistical improvements you would expect from a developing big man?"]
    .
    One could argue that your theory actually proves why Bargnani needs a chance to develop his rebounding game, and that the skills he has learned outside the NBA, have tainted him. That said, I`m curious how you call him skilled, and then say he is not that good, because he lacks Big Man skills?
    .
    Circular argument aside, I`m reminded of a few postings (and threads), that have said European ball is not as focused on rebounding, as the NBA is. So I checked out the FIBA World Championship stats, and noticed only one 10+ rebound average (World Cup to-date). Jianlian Yi averaged 10.2 Rpg. Next closest, was 8.6 per game. Browsing through a few other sites, it becomes apparent that European ball does not have the same emphasis on rebounding (which is what I have heard).
    .
    That all being said, I`m not advocating that Andrea be allowed to dismiss his rebounding issues. I would never suggest he can’t (and shouldn’t be) a better rebounder. Only that he needs to unwind the European influence. And that 4 years is not a complete yardstick.
    .

  • Arun

    Greg Oden > Andrea?

    This is a joke, right?

  • renato

    Mith #11 (or counter mith)
    PF could stay with him. Help me out with some example please, from the top of my head I remember Andrea posting up with easy against PF given his height advantage (I remember Odom and R. Lewis or Dirk either fauling or being scored upon with easy in post)….
    as well as drive by them or shoot against them.
    Defense wise his man 2 man being the usual decent.
    It seems to me his biggest faul is he is no defense anchor, true, this could be mitigated by having him not playing that role. It is worth it mentioning he has never asked, claimed or whatever to be a C, he had never plaid C in his life. He always claimed he is a PF, he has been made playing C for trying to pair with Chris Bosh, a player who cannot play with a traditional C given he needs to play in the low post on the O but he cannot defend C’s man 2 man)
    That is why, when Mr #4 did not resign (last summer) it would have been wise to trade him. We do not know how much truth there was in the rumors for a possible Bynum – Bosh swap, but the reality is, as of now (waiting to know what will happen with the trade exception) that was the kind of move that could have changed this team path. It would have possibly be a move against the crawd’s feelings, but while #4 is a better player that #7 is (as an individual player at the opposite however as a player as part of a team) #7+Bynum are a much, much better combo than Andrea + Chris.

  • Bob

    Thank you…this had to be said and put in one
    place. Can Bargs get better and become a great
    player? Yes, but nothing he has done so far
    supports that theory. The only thing I want now
    is a cohesive fact based response from the other side.
    Unfortunately pro Bargnani fans
    seldom use evidence, or statistics to support
    their argument. As much as I admire passion, if
    as fans we are expected to wait for something
    that is unlikely (Andrea improving) we may no
    longer be fans (or alive) by the time the TEAM improves.

  • Pingback: Tweets that mention Top 10 Myths About Andrea Bargnani : The Picket Fence -- Topsy.com

  • http://www.wearingfilm.com Tim W.

    LX,

    Thanks for the comment. Personally, this season I’m concentrating on watching the development of the young guys like DeRozan, Weems, Johnson and Davis. Kleiza will be interesting to watch, as well. I’d like to see if Calderon can regain his pre-contract form.

    Rapthoseleafs,

    Wow, you should have your own blog!

    I differentiate liking a certain player’s game and skillset and liking a player as a person. I will freely admit that I don’t like Bargnani’s game because I don’t feel it’s one that is conducive to winning. But it doesn’t mean I dislike Bargnani. I like Ed Davis’ game because it has the attributes I find incredibly important in a big man. I feel a big man needs to rebound and defend first and foremost. Anything he does outside of that is gravy.

    And I’ve had this attitude for many, many years. Long before Bosh left town. I just feel it’s healthier to have an emotional detachment from the professional athletes you cheer for. That doesn’t mean that I don’t follow certain basketball players more closely than others and enjoy watching them succeed. I was a basketball fan long before the NBA came to Toronto, so I’ve followed a lot of different players and teams. I just don’t get emotionally connected with them.

    I think it’s great that Bargnani has a different attitude about Toronto. It doesn’t change my opinion of him on the court one bit. And that’s exactly what I’m talking about. I’m a big Steve Nash fan, but argued vehemently against the Raptors trading for him because I think it would be counterproductive for the Raptors AND for him. I’m not lead by my emotions in this respect.

    As for your assertion that franchise players leave Toronto, so we should be happy with who we have. I think that’s a terrible thing for a fan to say. I also disagree. I don’t follow any other sport, but the Raptors problem is not keeping franchise players. It’s giving them a reason to want to stay. YOu create a successful organization, and you can generally keep your franchise player, no matter where you are.

    And no owner wants to pay the luxury tax. Some agree when given a reason to. Toronto has never once had a reason to go into the luxury tax. This attitude does bother me a little bit. Yes, the top teams are in the luxury tax, but they it’s not as if paying the luxury tax is a road to success. The majority of the successful teams became contenders BEFORE they paid the tax. Toronto has never been good enough to warrant going into the luxury tax for.

    If I felt the way you seem to, that there is no hope the Raptors will ever legitimately contend for a title, I’d cease to be a Raptor fan. As a fan of the team, my ultimate goal is to see them win a Championship. If that goal is unreachable, then I’ll cheer for a team that does have that chance. Luckily, I feel that the Raptors’ future is wide open, and have enough young talent on the team to make me optimistic of the future.

    As for Bargnani’s rebounding, you say that he needs a chance to develop his rebounding. Well, besides the fact that he’s had four years to do it, it’s very difficult to improve your rebounding skills. For the majority of big men, you either are a good rebounder or you’re not. It’s about having a nose for the ball, and Bargnani simply doesn’t have that instinct.

    And I think that Bargnani is an skilled big man in the sense that he’s got a lot of offensive skills. Unfortunately what he lacks are dealbreakers, in my opinion. While he is skilled, he lacks the skills that big men need in order to help their team win. And those are rebounding and defense.

    Again, thanks for your comments.

    Arun,

    I’m pretty confident that if given a choice between Bargnani and a healthy Oden, 30 out of 30 GMs would choose Oden. Obviously healthy is an issue, but disregarding that, Oden affects the game far more than Bargnani does.

    renato,

    Bargnani had some games where he played well, but overall, he’s not going to have any more advantage over PFs as centers. Bargnani is simply not a strong enough post player to take advantage of his height. He doesn’t hold his position very well, doesn’t have good hands to catch the ball, is tentative when he has the ball down low and doesn’t draw many fouls down there mostly because he tends to fade away no matter who is defending him. He’s had SFs and SGs switch on him and he’ll end up fading away on them. The big thing, though, is that he doesn’t hit a very high percentage in the post.

    As for what he calls himself, it’s irrelevant. And he has in fact played center for the last four years, so you can’t say he’s never played it. Bargnani could call himself a SG for all it matters, but the fact of the matter is that his best position is center because that’s the position he defends the best. Besides, if Bargnani is that good, he would excel either way. And there’s really not enough of a difference between the PF position and the center position to make much of a difference, anyway. Moving to PF isn’t going to make him rebound any better. It’s not going to make him a better team defender. It’s not going to make him pass better, or get to the line at a higher rate, or improve his post game. He’s had four years to show us all that. And he hasn’t really done it, has he?

    Bob,

    You’re preaching to the choir! And thanks for your comment.

  • RaGu

    Hi Tim!

    How about writing a positive piece about Andrea? I know it seems nutters but I don’t think I’ve ever seen one written yet–it could be the first.

    You can write a post about the positive qualities he has (basketball and outside the court) and how maybe tempering expectations by his fans can make him a less polarizing figure.

    Why not give him the benefit of the doubt for this season and write about what he could contribute positively?

    Maybe if MLSE hires a coach/mentor much like how Dirk has it would improve his game?

    Anyhow, I am positive that you would be able to come up with something–plus it would be a fun change.

  • hk

    wasnt andrew bogut considered a bust before this season?

  • geoff

    how can you say oden is better then bargs? Are you basing that purely on potential and what oden ‘could’ be? I dont think thats fair to andrea if thats the case. Knowing odens injurey plagued career so far, you would take oden on your team before andrea? predraft i would obv agree with you, but theres no way i am doing that now. i just dont see how a guy who has to this point spent WAY more time on the sidelines then on the court can be viewed as a better peice to a team then andrea.

  • http://Defstarcon.com Zoggy

    Hmmm so much hate in raptor nation, this is why well never be a true basketball city, we boo and write hate filled blogs about our players…

  • aaron

    comments like:”his season I’m concentrating on watching the development of the young guys like DeRozan, Weems, Johnson and Davis. Kleiza will be interesting to watch, as well”Kleiza and weems are older or the same age as Bargni.
    The problem with articles like this is the writer doesn`t understand how european players play basketball. Andrea is a team player which is a foreign concept to north american basketball players. The one on one, mono on mono attitude is old school and if your not willing to sacrifice for your team in the european concept your a crappy player. Where guys like Tim W. like guys who are selfish players who only get their own (chris bosh both of his best years are contract years). Andrea sacrificed his own offense for the team. He had to hang around the outside to space the defense so his man wouldn`t come block BOsh. Bosh won`t be as good without Bargni spacing the floor.
    Get all your comments in now before you get egg on your face.

  • Bill

    @aaron

    It was clearly stated in the article already that Bargnani took 14.3 shots per game, which is “MORE shots per game than Carlos Boozer, Tim Duncan, Chris Paul, Brook Lopez, Andrew Bogut, Pau Gasol and Paul Pierce”. What a big sacrifice he’s making.

  • http://3gotgame.com/kshiz kshiz

    Tim, would it be alright if I link to my Bargnani writeup in the comments here? I think it might provide some interesting contrast on the other side of the debate … especially since the above commenter says there’s no pro-Bargnani contingent out there! Just a thought – I definitely don’t want to intrude though – so thought I’d ask first.

  • Malefax

    Great post. Very clear and well reasoned.

    Just a few points on the opposite side:

    Bargs is certainly not now a top 10 centre. And it is unreasonable to expect him to become a superstar. But he is not paid all that much, and he doesn’t have to improve very much on defense to be a very solid starter.

    Help defense is something that tends to get better with experience, as players learn where to be and what to do and develop their timing. Defense in general tends to improve over time, except when players rely on athleticism for their defense (which Bargnani doesn’t). If bargnani becomes a decent or good defender over time, he will be a solid asset to the team. If his rebounding and scoring also continue to improve at the rate that they have for the next say, 3 years (which is reasonable), then he’ll be a top 10 centre.

    But the real key here is defense. As is, his defense makes him a liability. He could well not improve, but to me, that’s the less likely option — his defense has improved in the past, and there’s a natural learning curve that doesn’t stop when he’s 24.

  • Childs

    A good, compelling article. Nice read. I agree with everything you said and that just makes me more depressed about the Raptors.

  • Brasky

    I like how the majority of the Bargnani nut huggers have zero clue how to put together a rational argument, and simply resort to name calling and ‘you haters are what’s wrong with the franchise’.

    I guess blind optimism is the best and only acceptable way to build an organization. Forget about ditching dead weight, let’s just keep around all the non contributors because we’re nice guys.

  • http://www.wearingfilm.com Tim W.

    @RaGu,

    Kshiz and I have a friendly wager that if Bargnani averages at least 20 ppg and 9 rpg, I will write a post on his blog. If Bargnani doesn’t, Kshiz will write a post on mine. The topic is the blog owners choice, so if Kshiz wins, you should try and convince him to choose a positive topic about Bargnani. He wrote a couple of positive pieces himself which I’ve added near the top of the post. I’ve also read quite a few other positive posts about Bargnani, so there certainly are plenty out there.

    As for giving him the benefit of the doubt, the problem is that I’ve been given no reason to. After four years, I see relatively the same player that came into the league.

    @hk,

    Thanks for the comment. I don’t know if Bogut was considered a bust, but he certainly was considered a disappointment. His big problem, however, was staying healthy. Still, in his third season, Bogut averaged 14.3 ppg on .511 shooting, 9.8 rpg and 1.8 bpg while playing good defense. If Bargnani had those number, and played as good defense, I think most Raptors fans, including myself, would be happy.

    @Geoff,

    When on the floor, Oden makes more of a positive impact than Bargnani. This is why I feel he’s a better center. Obviously his health clouds things. Same with Yao, though. I don’t know many GMs would take Yao over Bargnani because of Yao’s health issues, but Yao is clearly a better center.

    @Zoggy,

    Well, I’ve always felt it was stupid to boo former Raptors. I’ve never seen the point and it makes you seem petty. As for hate filled blogs, I’m puzzled. How is being critical of someone “hate”? I’ve written many, many positive posts about the Raptors and Raptor players on my blog. Do they ALL have to be positive? How is that constructive?

    @aaron,

    Yes, Bargnani certainly isn’t an old player, I just have seen too many fatal flaws in his game over the last four years to be excited about watching it. I’ve only watched Weems for one season and liked what I saw. He’s got a nice offensive game, rebounds pretty well and has the tools to become a good defensive player. If he doesn’t develop much more in the next couple of years, I won’t be interested in watching him, either. As for Kleiza, I also haven’t watched a whole lot of him and am anxious to see what he brings to the Raptors.

    As for not understanding how Europeans play, I’m not quite sure what that has to do with anything. I’ve watched my fair share of FIBA games and like a lot of European player’s games. In fact, I’ve been a proponent of trading Bargnani for Rubio. I felt losing Garbajosa was probably the biggest reason the Raptors failed to continue their rise after Colangelo’s first season with the Raptors.

    My problem with Bargnani is not that he’s not more productive, it’s that he doesn’t do the little things that help a team win. That has nothing to do with him being European. Pau Gasol does those things, as does Okur and Kirilenko, and lots of other European players. Please don’t write it off as a European bias, because that couldn’t be further from the truth. I wanted to keep Belinelli and have defended Calderon many, many times. If Bargnani did more of the little things, including rebounding, I wouldn’t have a problem with him. But he’s not a good role player because he doesn’t do the little things necessary to help a team win, and he’s simply not good enough to be anything more than that. He’s a scorer who isn’t that good of a scorer, but doesn’t rebound or play defense well enough to make up for it.

    @kshiz,

    Good idea. I’ve added your links near the top of the post. I’ve got no problem with posting your links. I’ve linked to your blog on the sidebar.

    @Malefax,

    Thanks. I agree that Bargnani’s contract is quite reasonable and have said as much quite a few times. When he originally signed his contract, I complained until I took a closer look at the numbers and realized they were quite fair. That doesn’t mean I would rather have him than someone making more who helps my team win more. I’d rather overpay a big man like Joakim Noah, who plays defense, rebounds and playis winning basketball than underpay someone who doesn’t help the team win.

    As for Bargnani’s team defense, I have no doubt it will improve, but the question is how much. It hasn’t improved much over the last four years. At that rate, after ten years he’ll still be a poor team defender, just an improved one.

  • aaron

    “I’ve been a proponent of trading Bargnani for Rubio.” Please more comments like this will give you zero credibility in any basketball circles.

  • aaron

    Brasky stupid is as stupid says and the fact that Bargni averaged 14 shots a game was more a reflection of him being the second option. The second option a 7 footer entering the post pass to bosh or spacing the floor to open up the middle for bosh to square his man up from mid post and shoot jump shots or take his man to the whole. If Bargni was in the post BOsh wouldn’t have space to penetrate and would be left only with a mid range jump shot.
    Some players take time to develop a slow positive progression (gerald wallace) and some guys it just clicks in at one time on how to play (marc gasol). I’ve coached and developed 30-40 university basketball players and the fact that andrea hasn’t put it all together but has increased his production every year except his second year. Tells me that when it finally clicks in he will be alot better then you understand because your basketball IQ is below a 100

  • http://www.wearingfilm.com Tim W.

    Childs,

    Sorry, your comment slipped past me. I don’t think you should be depressed about the Raptors. If you’re not a Bargnani fan, as I am not, he’s only one of 15 players on the team. I like the youth and the type of player that Colangelo has been collecting. I’m quite excited about the future of the team.

    Aaron

    With comments like that, you’re going to lose credibility, and not just about basketball.

  • http://3gotgame.com/kshiz kshiz

    I just found this quote from Bill Simmons article (2008). In it, he writes, “Which brings me to my point, and I swear I have one: Of the four major sports, only in basketball is the historical fate of everyone from borderline All-Star to borderline superstar determined entirely by his situation.”

    And I couldn’t agree more. Context matters, especially in the NBA. It’s not the # of minutes only, it’s the quality of minutes too. I agree with Aaron the coach, who is somewhat belligerent, but still has some level of hope that Bargnani may exceed now that the situational factors are finally in his favor.

    I almost feel like you are expecting a puppy mill dog to know where to take a sheit as soon as you bring it home. After being in that environment, the puppy needs to be re-socialized. And yes, I’m comparing Bargnani’s 1st 2 years with tyrant Sam Mitchell as working in puppy mill-like conditions.

  • http://3gotgame.com/kshiz kshiz

    Oh and thanks for the links dude! I linked you on mine too …

  • RapthoseLeafs

    Tim,
    I can understand why you believe being emotional detached is healthier for you, unfortunately I have a harder time with that. I enjoy liking the players.
    .

    [“As for your assertion that franchise players leave Toronto, so we should be happy with who we have. I think that’s a terrible thing for a fan to say.”]

    I have to correct this statement. While I believe Toronto is one of the last places a franchise player would want to be (with European players being a different scenario), I did not suggest we should be happy with it. Only that we need to acknowledge it, and deal with it. And in a way that might bring us a Championship. As I’ve said before in past posts, a Detroit model is more conducive to our goals, then finding the next Lebron, or Wade, or Melo, or whoever might be able to take us to the promised land.

    This “Toronto” model also needs to be in a luxury tax position, which MLSE has not (to my knowledge), ever crossed over into. We can believe BC that he has the “go ahead”, under the right circumstances, but until we do, I’ll stay with the facts.

    I made a statement in my post that I didn’t clarify, only because I had already used up enough words. This is what I said: “When it comes to Luxury tax, I might even argue it`s better to be a lousy team and paying a luxury tax, then a better team, that`s not in a Luxury tax position.” What I meant, has more of an accounting overtone to it. The CBA seems to favour those who stay in this luxury position, as it allows bad contracts to be set aside more easily. Or keep injuries from having such a dramatic effect.

    In essence, higher payrolls tend to have a greater number of high-level contracts, a greater number of expiring ones (all other things being equal), and a higher level of insurance (for injury situations). It’s not easy to dismiss a common fact, that the best teams, also spend the most. The Blue Jays won 2 World Series – with one year having the highest MLB payroll, and the other within the top 3. Of course, spending does not imply a championship. Only that a championship, most likely implies top spending. And that top spending is all but a necessary requirement for getting to the top.

    As for giving “Stars” a reason to stay, it’s not always so easy. Marketing opportunities, Egos, tax perceptions, a different country, a cold country, and many other factors, are reasons we have such difficulties in attracting talent. In fact, it gets almost impossible to name free agents who’ve migrated to the Raptors, where money wasn’t a premium. And when you look at Bosh, those kind of premiums make me nervous. Keeping CB meant 130 million over 6 years (or thereabouts), yet going somewhere else meant a great deal less – even though I think 95 million is not bad. And yes, I realize it was to the new `Dream` team.

    As for your assertion that no Owner wants to pay the luxury tax – of course they don`t. It`s their money that they`re parting with, and these guys like that cash in their hands better. But wishing for something, and recognizing it`s not gonna happen, is more their reality. And they know that. With MLSE, they`re run by number crunchers, who have to answer to shareholders. Not quite the same as a Mark Cuban. Or a Steinbrenner.

    Until the Raptors enter the luxury tax zone, they will continue to be a mediocre team. A possible play-off team that might surprise some and make it to the 2nd round, but for the most part, has little chance at going much further (setting aside luck). I don`t see that as being a negative fan. I see it as a realistic Toronto fan, who enjoyed 2 World Series (while in that luxury spending mode), and not much more. In fact, nothing more – although I have enjoyed the Argos at times.

    As I`ve come to understand the CBA better (and it`s cap issues), I find myself completely disagreeing with your statement: “it’s not as if paying the luxury tax is a road to success”. To me, it is. It is a mindset, that translates with the better players. The very ones we want to attract. Adding to all the issues that Toronto (Canada) faces, is a simple fact, that any agent would know. And that Toronto has never made the leap to what most acknowledge is a key to championships – spending. Not the only key, but a vital one.

    Does this mean I`ve lost hope for a Championship. Not in the least. I just feel we have a tougher road to follow. A road that needs to acknowledge the money thing, as well as a belief in our draft picks, and a team model that precludes the Franchise type player. As depressing as some issues seem to be, I always remain optimistic about the future. It`s partly why I have a greater belief in players like Bargnani, then you do, and some others. I see him, not as some 1st option, but one amongst many.
    .

  • http://www.wearingfilm.com Tim W.

    @Rapthoseleafs,

    I do agree that Toronto is not high on the list of where a superstar would want to go, but I wouldn’t say it’s one of the last places. Well, now it would be, but that’s partly because they are not a successful organization. I think the Raptors would have trouble attracting a superstar, but it’s much easier to draft one and keep one in Toronto.

    As for the Detroit model, I don’t think it’s one that can be followed. Quite frankly, I think their Championship (the 2004 version) was a bit of a fluke and it’s historically been proven that if you want to win a Championship, you pretty much need an MVP calibre player. The Raptors have never had a legit one. Vince was probably closest, but I never thought he was a legit candidate.

    As for the luxury tax, I don’t think simply paying it is going to attract players. WInning attracts players, not paying the luxury tax. The Spurs were attracting lots of veteran free agents even before they went into the tax because they were a quality that was serious about winning. Hell, The Spurs had even made a few cost cutting move to stay out of the tax threshold, including giving away Luis Scola.

    I believe a team has to earn going into the luxury tax, and Toronto never earned that. Simply throwing money at a team is not going to help it and in fact if you start paying the luxury tax for a team that barely makes it past the first round (or not even that far) it not only sets a dangerous precedent, it can be damaging to the team.

    What the Raptors need to do, in my opinion, is get down under the cap again, hope to draft a franchise player next summer, and build with the youth they already have. I’ve read some people’s opinion that waiting for the team to draft a franchise player is ridiculous since the chances of it happening are so low. To me, expecting to win without one is even harder.

    And I’m very optimistic about the Raptors future and have often stated that fact. I just don’t see Bargnani as part of that future.

    @kshiz,

    Thanks for the link on yours!

    And while I don’t think Bargnani was given every opportunity under Sam Mitchell, I don’t disagree with how he handled him. Mitchell tried to make Bargnani earn his minutes, and expected him to perform at a certain level. MItchell didn’t excuse bad defense, and while Bargnani thrived much more under Triano, I do like the fact that Mitchell held Bargnani more accountable. I do agree with Bill Simmons to a point, but the fact is that guys like Larry Bird, Michael Jordan and Magic would have succeeded under any circumstances. Obviously Bargnani isn’t on that level, but I don’t think he’s at the borderline All-Star level, either. He’s had two years with more opportunity and encouragement than anyone could hope for. And all this while being a horrible defender and rebounder. Bargnani should count himself lucky.

  • Al

    Good post Tim, as usual.

    You know I still keep the faith on Barg, even I like him on my team (his contract is IMO right for his skills), but you really had good points and saving some things, have to agree with you.

  • Mike P

    Andrea had a good summer, he is always participating for italy in the summer time, but this year he was actually making a significant contribution to the team and making headlines. counter point–lack of competition, i get it….but at least he was making noise.

    i want andrea to be part of this young team as a key piece, and i will give him this season to really calculate what he brings to the team. Bosh and him had their moments, but overall, i never agreed with the frontcourt pairing. I remember a few games when bosh was hurt, and it was JO doing dirty work, Andrea scoring and having fun, and it was pretty good to watch. that is what i’m hoping to see. combine andrea’s finesse and potential double team draw, with a guy doing dirty work, which i hope is amir— for a whole season.

    lets have fun with this season, i’m still going to buy my league pass and rep my team in front of all my american buddies, and then get hammered for being a canadian that loves basketball more than hockey….either way, i can’t wait to defend my beloved under dog, lack of pub, raptor squad….

  • http://www.wearingfilm.com Tim W.

    Al,

    Thanks. I actually think his contract is fair. I didn’t like it at first, but when I read the breakdown I realized it’s pretty reasonable. Doesn’t mean I’d want to be paying him it to be on my team, though.

    Mike P

    I’m very excited for the season to start. Bargnani will certainly get his share of points. There’s little doubt of that. I just don’t think you can win with a big man who doesn’t do the dirty work himself.

  • Pingback: Andrea Bargnani torn a new one - Page 2

  • anonymoo

    How would you compare Bargnani with Bogut? The latter had the kind of breakout season you would expect of a 1st pick. Could you attribute it to the Bucks having redone the roster with better athletes, and replacing the HC with Skiles who’s probably better suited to coach them?

    If the guy remains a constant, but you just change the variables that surround him, might Bargnani have the same kind of breakout year that Bogut did last year?

    Tim, the new site looks fine and your blog as always HQ.

  • http://www.wearingfilm.com Tim W.

    anonymoo,

    I’ve seen the Bogut-Bargnani comparison before and, unfortunately, it doesn’t work. Bogut had a pretty lacklustre rookie season, but the biggest hindrance to his development for the majority of his career was injuries. Last season was his first real healthy season in three years. Bargnani obviously hasn’t had an injury problem.

    And with Bogut, his biggest problem is not living up to the #1 pick status. He’s always, even when injured, been a half decent center who rebounded well, shot a high percentage and defended pretty well. You can definitely win with a good defensive center who averages 12 ppg and 9 rpg. If that’s all Bogut ever averaged, he’d still be a guy you could win with as your center.

  • http://raptorsdigest.com Raptors Digest

    Great piece! Your best work!

    You know how I feel about Bargnani…I just wish they would trade him and be done with it

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