So now, it is beginning. Bargnani
had never played centre before this year. He is learning an entirely new language of basketball.
"Centre is the anchor of your defence, so guess what Andrea's got to get comfortable doing?" Mitchell asked. "Talking and directing. He's got to talk, he's got to direct traffic, he's got to tell people where to be, he's got to call out the defence. He's got to learn to be the anchor. That's the first thing he's got to learn."
"Then he's got to learn the bang. The push, the shove, the physical part of the game. He's got to learn the tricks."
Insiders swear that Bargnani
can, in fact, deliver a jump hook, and we know he has a step-back jumper from the post reminiscent of the great Jack Sikma. But as the league scouted him into irrelevance, Bargnani
couldn't even do what we know he can do. How could he try to do something else?
"Last year Andrea basically floated around outside and shot jump shots," Mitchell said. "And we did that just to get him to the point where we can get his confidence up, get something out of him. But now the NBA, a year later, [figured it out]."
has to figure it out. He is 22 years old, starting from somewhere near scratch. But it says here that he is going to be a very good player in this NBA. He is going to be a 20-point-per-game scorer in this league. And the Raptors, so uninspiring this season, will get better with him.
"We were still able to win games in spite of him," Mitchell said. "[If he comes around], then think about how good we could be. We could be scary. Him and Chris Bosh
are still getting better, and in a year or two, if Andrea becomes what we think he can become, how good do you think we could be?"