2008/09: 15.4 PPG, 5.3 RPG, 1.2 BPG, 31.5 MPG
Career: 12.4 PPG, 4.3 RPG, 0.9 BPG, 26.9 MPG
2009/10 Salary: $6,527,490
Contract Status: Signed through 2014/15
Claim to Fame: Eats downtown pasta during the day, makes other team eat downtown threes at night.
As if the expectations that come with being the first overall pick weren’t enough, he’s now a $50+ million dollar man. With great money comes great responsibility (yes, that’s a knock off from the “power” line). Whether or not he’s ready to take that next step is entirely up to him as he, along with Chris Bosh, is now surrounded with enough talent to contend.
You can’t talk about Bargnani without talking about his shooting ability for a big man. It’s why he was taken first overall and it’s why he was given a five-year extension this summer. His ability to hit the long range jumper brings defenders outside the paint and is key to the Raptors offense as it allows Bosh to set up down-low when they are on the court at the same time.
His mobility for a big man cannot be understated as while it is his shooting that brings defenders outside of their comfort zone, it’s his mobility that keeps them on their toes. If he wasn’t as mobile as he is for a big man they’d just be able to get up in his face. But, because he possesses these two strengths they are always on their toes trying to anticipate his move.
A strength that goes unnoticed is his ability to think the game a couple seconds faster than other players. Remember that pass he made to Chris Bosh in a January 5th, 2007 game against the Atlanta Hawks? If Bosh had managed to dunk it, it would’ve made every highlight reel in North America (could not find a clip). It’s his basketball IQ that separates him from other big men, and it’s one of those rare skills that cannot be taught, either you got it or you don’t.
He’s not a bad rebounder, and now that I said that I know I’m going to get killed for it on every social network out there, but it’s something he can still work on for sure. Look, at the end of the day, you’re not going to count on him to be a double-double player in his career. Yes, he has the height and the mobility, but it’s not his game. He improved his traffic rebounding in his third season, but he stills plays too far away from the basket to be counted upon getting rebounds in the “dirty areas” on the court.
Over the course of his third season in the NBA he seemed to understand what constituted as a foul and what was a “play on.” I’m glad of this fact, maybe now he can explain it to the rest of us …or at least me. It’s definitely something he improved after the interim-hiring of Jay Triano, so it’s probably the fact that Triano allowed him to play through foul trouble that really helped him out. This season he needs to work on cutting down on the fouls that there is no need to commit: the hand checks and over the backs. If he can work on that, it’ll only help him as it means he can stay on the court longer.
18 PPG, 6 RPG, 34 MPG
He’s been compared to Dirk Nowitzki in the past due to his potential, the fact that he’s an international player and because they play a similar game. This should be the season where he gets compared to Dirk Nowitzki because of his skill level and maturity as an NBA player.
By giving Bargnani a $50+ million extension, the Raptors believe that they have locked up a core piece of their future for the long-term. It’s clear that this is Bosh’s team for at least one more season, beyond that no one knows. He’s just a core piece now, this time next season he may be looked to as the franchise.
This is part one of a five part series analyzing the Raptors starters and bench players. Follow Gagan Gandhi on Twitter (@gagangandhi) and join his group on Facebook. He writes for RealGM.com and can be reached at: firstname.lastname@example.org with any comments, concerns or requests.