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Posted on March 30, 2012 | 16 Comments
We’ve all heard them. Those reasons that you hear over and over again why the Raptors shouldn’t trade Andrea Bargnani. There’s several of them in the comments section of The Score’s Joseph Casciaro latest blog post over at RaptorBlog, which is strangely titled, “A Post to Settle All Bargnani Posts” (it doesn’t). Well, instead of trying to debate them one at a time, I’m compiling them here. So if someone brings up one of them, just send them over to The Picket Fence.
5. YOU CAN’T TRADE YOUR BEST PLAYER
Why not? Especially when he’s the best player on a lottery team? It’s not as if his presence has helped the team to the playoffs. Here’s a list of “best players” who were traded from a lottery team which ended up benefiting the team in the long run:
Pau Gasol, Memphis Grizzlies
Gasol was an All-Star big man, but Memphis was stuck in mediocrity with him and when he was 26 years old, the Grizzlies decided to refocus on youth and give themselves some financial breathing room. While the trade itself was initially derided, it ended up benefitting both teams.
Ray Allen, Seattle Supersonics
In the 2006-2007 season, the Seattle Sonics won 31 games, while a 31 year old Ray Allen scored 26 ppg and made the All-Star team for the 7th time, being one of the few bright spots in an otherwise bad season. They traded him for a lottery pick (Jeff Green) and cap filler, and ended up winning FEWER games the next season. That was also Kevin Durant‘s first season.
Seattle ended up losing the team to Oklahoma City, where they added a few more (young) pieces and are now one of the best teams in the league.
Antoine Walker, Atlanta Hawks
Now, for the life of me, I don’t remember Antoine Walker playing for the Atlanta Hawks (normally I have an excellent memory for that sort of thing), but he was their best player (averaging 20 ppg and 9.4 rpg) during the 2004-05 season. A season they won just 13 games.
Midway through the season, they traded away their best player, who was only 28 at the time, for basically expiring contracts. With the cap room, they ended up signing Joe Johnson, who would become a perennial All-Star and eventually lead the Hawks to the second round of the playoffs.
Now, while they did several bone-headed things during this time (Marvin Williams over both Deron Williams and Chris Paul, as well as giving away too much in the sign-and-trade for Joe Johnson), but they certainly didn’t worry about trading away their best player.
Now, there are countless other examples, but I think you get my point. This notion that you can’t trade your best player away only counts if your best player is irreplaceable. Bargnani is not irreplaceable. He’s a high scoring big man who is a poor rebounder and defender. He’s never been an All-Star and the Raptors have only been to the playoffs twice, with him and neither time was he the best player.
4. YOU CAN’T TRADE THE LEADING SCORER OF A TEAM THAT STRUGGLES TO SCORE
Not long after the Carmelo Anthony trade, I remember reading an article discussing the fallacy that teams trading their leading scorers struggle to score afterwards. Unfortunately, I can’t find the article (anyone who remembers it, please let me know), but it talked about how remaining players (and the new one’s coming in) will simply fill the scoring void left by the player. A player’s scoring average is not finite. Players score what they do because of things like the amount of shots they are given, how many plays are run for them, etc.
Players are always waiting for chances to score more, and mot players have, at the very least, a decent ability to score.
Now, related to this is the argument that Bargnani is the Raptors’ only player who can CONSISTENTLY score. Yes, this is true. But again, he has been a consistent 20+ ppg scorer on two lottery teams. And if the Raptors are ever going to become a real contender, chances are part of doing so will involve acquiring better players than they already have. And chances are one or more of these players will be able to score consistently.
If Bargnani is the only player on your team that can score consistently, then you’re a lottery team.
3. YOU CAN’T TRADE A PLAYER WHO ACTUALLY WANTS TO BE IN TORONTO
This is a non-basketball reason, and a bad one at that. If you’re building a team, your aim should be to acquire not only the best players, but the players who will help you achieve your goal of winning a Championship. Once personal feelings creep into it, you’re screwed.
Besides, the myth that the Raptors lost their best players because of the teams location is nonsense. Every single good player that left Toronto did so for reasons OTHER than it is situated in Canada.
Besides, Charlie Villanueva liked Toronto, so does that mean the Raptors should try and get him back?
2. BARGNANI IS A UNIQUE PLAYER
Yes, Bargnani is a unique player. He’s a 7 footer who can score from outside and stretch the defenses, as well as drive to the basket. There are very few players with his skillset. This is something I will agree with.
Unfortunately many people seem to have confused the word “unique” with “irreplaceable”.
While it would be very difficult to find a player that is similar to Bargnani, that doesn’t mean a team can’t win without a player like Bargnani. In fact, there’s no evidence to support the fact that you can even win with a scoring 7 footer who is a poor rebounder and defender.
1. THOSE 13 GAMES SHOWS HE CAN BE AN ALL-STAR
And most of those other 379 games shows he can be maddeningly inconsistent, lackadaisical when he’s not scoring, difficult to motivate and a poor rebounder and defender. Scratch that. Even those 13 games shows he is a poor rebounder and defender.
To put it in perspective, Jerryd Bayless averaged 20 ppg and nearly 6 apg in the final 8 games, last season. Those are almost All-Star numbers.
In 37 games as starter in his first season, Darren Collison averaged 18.8 ppg and 9.1 apg, for New Orleans. Since he was traded to Indiana, where he became their full time starter, he’s averaged about 12 ppg and 5 apg.
At least with Colliison, though, you didn’t have years of previous evidence that he wouldn’t be able to put up those gaudy numbers consistently. With Bargnani, you’ve got the previous 5 years, and the games SINCE those 13 games.
I’d love to see him play well over the rest of the season, but only to increase his trade value. If he’s not the focal point of the offense, and motivated, he’ll hurt your team. And on a better team, he’s not going to be the focal point of the offense.
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