SI: Bargnani now a leader
Old 01-25-2012, 09:08 PM   #1 (permalink)
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Raptors SI: Bargnani now a leader

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The message was so important that the new coach was willing to fly to Italy to deliver it in person. It turned out that Dwane Casey wasn't able to arrange a trip overseas before the lockout started on July 1, but he was able to make his case in a phone call.

Afterward there was another call. Following the lockout there were more calls and a dinner. Every conversation was the same as the last.

"He was talking about defense right away," said Andrea Bargnani, the power forward of the Toronto Raptors. "It was his main focus. You could understand from day one in training camp: For the first three days every drill was about defense."

Bargnani, a 7-footer from Italy, was the Raptors' most talented player. He was the No. 1 pick of the 2006 draft, and his scoring average had risen each of the last three seasons to 21.4 points per game last year. But the Raptors had missed the playoffs each of the last three seasons and it was becoming easy to question their choice of Bargnani ahead of LaMarcus Aldridge, the All-NBA power forward of the Trail Blazers.

"I laugh at people who criticize [team president] Bryan Colangelo, for taking him No. 1," said Casey, who was an assistant coach of the champion Mavericks before he was hired by Toronto in June. "Because there's not a lot of 7-footers with his skill-set taking guys off the dribble."

At the same time, Casey understood his priority was to bring out that talent, to turn Bargnani into an All-Star capable of leading a playoff team. Bargnani, now 26, was ready to listen. "He's got the money, he's got the notoriety, he's got his commercials," said Casey. "He's got everything, so now all he's got to do is win. Build a foundation to win, and that's what we're doing now."

Their construction was put on hold when Bargnani suffered a strained calf that sidelined him for six games. They lost all six while averaging 81 points, which increased the load on their defense. But Bargnani returned Tuesday at Phoenix and his impact was immediate. He scored 36 points and the Raptors beat the Suns, 99-96, for the first time in eight years.

As important as Bargnani is offensively, the Raptors welcomed him back to help establish them at the other end as well. Their future, as Casey sees it, is as a defensive team, and they won't fulfill that ambition without the buy-in of their star.

So far the Raptors' defensive turnaround has been dramatic and impressive. They ranked No. 29 in field-goal defense while inviting opponents to convert 48.2 percent last year. This season they rank No. 5 in the same category at 41.9 percent.

"That's the hard way to come in as a coach," said Celtics coach Doc Rivers. "If you take a new job and you want to make everyone happy, tell them, 'We're going to score -- we're going to score more points.' And then everybody on the team loves you. When you say it the other way -- the way Case has done it -- there's not a lot of fans of that. Yet he's won them over, obviously, by watching how they play and how they defend.

Casey has been winning over his players by coaching the defense through Bargnani, a scorer who hadn't been viewed as a strong NBA defender. "They know I'm holding him accountable -- I'm holding everyone accountable," said Casey. "And that's the same thing with most of your superstars. In Dallas, Dirk [Nowitzki] was held accountable defensively, and we turned that around. In Seattle (where Casey was a long-time assistant), Gary [Payton] was held accountable by George [Karl] defensively. So if you're star players are held accountable, especially on the defensive end, then nobody has a choice but to buy in. And everybody has, to date."
Andrea Bargnani develops into Raptors' leader under Dwane Casey - Ian Thomsen - SI.com
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Old 01-25-2012, 09:11 PM   #2 (permalink)
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Old 01-25-2012, 09:26 PM   #3 (permalink)
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Old 01-25-2012, 09:38 PM   #4 (permalink)
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The biggest part about his game that impresses me is his improvement in defence, it makes him a very valuable player. Just comparing him to Dirk, I always thought Dirk struggled with his defence and rebounding, I think AB has a slight edge on him at this point of his career.
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Old 01-26-2012, 09:16 AM   #5 (permalink)
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I thought DeRozan was our leader.
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Old 01-26-2012, 09:37 AM   #6 (permalink)
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Derozan can only lead weems back to Toronto
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Old 01-26-2012, 09:43 AM   #7 (permalink)
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Derozan can only lead weems back to Toronto
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Old 01-26-2012, 10:05 AM   #8 (permalink)
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Derozan can only lead weems back to Toronto
Yeah, we need another mediocre player. Let's keep shooting for the stars. lol
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Old 01-26-2012, 10:08 AM   #9 (permalink)
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didn't say its a good thing or I want it, it just so happens to be his best leadership skill.
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Old 01-26-2012, 10:12 AM   #10 (permalink)
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The biggest part about his game that impresses me is his improvement in defence, it makes him a very valuable player. Just comparing him to Dirk, I always thought Dirk struggled with his defence and rebounding, I think AB has a slight edge on him at this point of his career.
Struggled with rebounding?

Nowitzki:

3rd season- 9.2rpg
4th season- 10rpg
5th season- 9.9rpg
6th season- 8.7rpg

Bargnani in his sixth season is averaging 6.4rpg. Nowiztki averaged that in his second season and for his career is averaging 8.3 or his career. This notion that Dirk has struggled rebounding in his career is way overblown. I will say that his D is probably gotten to a point that it's better than where Dirk was at this point in his career. It's amazing to me how he's improved in that department.
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Old 01-26-2012, 12:21 PM   #11 (permalink)
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Struggled with rebounding?

Nowitzki:

3rd season- 9.2rpg
4th season- 10rpg
5th season- 9.9rpg
6th season- 8.7rpg

Bargnani in his sixth season is averaging 6.4rpg. Nowiztki averaged that in his second season and for his career is averaging 8.3 or his career. This notion that Dirk has struggled rebounding in his career is way overblown. I will say that his D is probably gotten to a point that it's better than where Dirk was at this point in his career. It's amazing to me how he's improved in that department.
For a guy who plays 4 & 5, 8-9 rbs is not a big deal. Most pf's and Centers average about 11 or 12 rbs career wise. I think Tim duncan's career avg is around 12 rbs. So Dirk and Andrea are not great rebounders.
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Old 01-26-2012, 12:32 PM   #12 (permalink)
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For a guy who plays 4 & 5, 8-9 rbs is not a big deal. Most pf's and Centers average about 11 or 12 rbs career wise. I think Tim duncan's career avg is around 12 rbs. So Dirk and Andrea are not great rebounders.
only 25 guys in the entire history of the nba have ever averaged 11 or more rebounds per game. only 43 have averaged 10 or more per game.

what do you consider to be a great rebounder? top 43 all time in the nba is the benchmark???


oh, and by that standard, ben wallace is not a great rebounder, and neitehr were patrick ewing or charles oakley...
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Old 01-26-2012, 12:36 PM   #13 (permalink)
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For a guy who plays 4 & 5, 8-9 rbs is not a big deal. Most pf's and Centers average about 11 or 12 rbs career wise. I think Tim duncan's career avg is around 12 rbs. So Dirk and Andrea are not great rebounders.
The funny thing is you say that Bargs is as good/maybe better than dirk at this point in his career, then you put down Dirk's 8-9 rebound average. Do you realize Bargs has averaged 6rpg for his career. If you think 8-9 isn't good how can you think Bargnani is better?
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Old 01-26-2012, 12:37 PM   #14 (permalink)
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only 25 guys in the entire history of the nba have ever averaged 11 or more rebounds per game. only 43 have averaged 10 or more per game.

what do you consider to be a great rebounder? top 43 all time in the nba is the benchmark???


oh, and by that standard, ben wallace is not a great rebounder, and neitehr were patrick ewing or charles oakley...
Now, take Dennis Rodman, for instance. That's the golden standard by which haircuts and wedding dresses shall always be measured.
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Old 01-26-2012, 12:40 PM   #15 (permalink)
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What I'm impressed with is his determination and hustle on the defensive end ... He is becoming an overall excellent player with special skills that are hard to find in the nba ... 7 footer who can take it to the rim or shoot from the outside ... Great to see his progress
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Old 01-26-2012, 12:41 PM   #16 (permalink)
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What I'm impressed with is his determination and hustle on the defensive end ... He is becoming an overall excellent player with special skills that are hard to find in the nba ... 7 footer who can take it to the rim or shoot from the outside ... Great to see his progress
+1 It was inevitable! I've been saying it for years!
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Old 01-26-2012, 12:44 PM   #17 (permalink)
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+1 It was inevitable! I've been saying it for years!
It's too bad the light took this long to come on and stay on.
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Old 01-26-2012, 12:48 PM   #18 (permalink)
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only 25 guys in the entire history of the nba have ever averaged 11 or more rebounds per game. only 43 have averaged 10 or more per game.

what do you consider to be a great rebounder? top 43 all time in the nba is the benchmark???


oh, and by that standard, ben wallace is not a great rebounder, and neitehr were patrick ewing or charles oakley...
yes! top 43 sounds like a Great number lol. Plus, I am pretty sure when Ben Wallace played starter with Detroit he avg more than 10 rbs.
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Old 01-26-2012, 01:00 PM   #19 (permalink)
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The funny thing is you say that Bargs is as good/maybe better than dirk at this point in his career, then you put down Dirk's 8-9 rebound average. Do you realize Bargs has averaged 6rpg for his career. If you think 8-9 isn't good how can you think Bargnani is better?
Actually, AB's career average is 4.9. Only in the past four seasons, including this year, has he had an average over 5. His 6.4 rbg this year represents a career best.

Regardless of his rebounding numbers, AB is making the effort to become a more complete basketball player. He's battling hard and sacrificing himself, and that is leadership by example.
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Old 01-26-2012, 01:06 PM   #20 (permalink)
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Actually, AB's career average is 4.9. Only in the past four seasons, including this year, has he had an average over 5. His 6.4 rbg this year represents a career best.

Regardless of his rebounding numbers, AB is making the effort to become a more complete basketball player. He's battling hard and sacrificing himself, and that is leadership by example.
I thought he was in the 5.5-6rpg range. I completely agree about your post, i'm loving what I see. But he's no Dirk, at least not yet which is all I was saying.
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