Andrea Bargnani improving, yet still inconsistent

Andrea Bargnani isn’t exactly tearing it up this year, but when the bar is set low, everything is relative.

Compared to the Italian’s first two years, the 6-10 forward-center is showing much more aggression and consistency this year, and displaying a better understanding of self and the NBA game.

Most noticeably is Bargnani shooting percentages, they’re significantly higher thus far – 46% from the field (38% last year), 42.9% from three (34.5%), and 90.9% from the free throw line (84%), and all are career-highs across the board.

HIs rebounding is up roughly 28%, from 3.7 last season to 5.1 rebounds, nothing to write home about with a player of Bargnani’s size and girth, but again we’re trying to quantify his progress this season.

And if Andrea continues to block shots at the current pace, he’ll have blocked more shots this season (130 total) than in the last two years (90) which spans his entire career. “[Andrea’s] playing much calmer now that he’s got his role,” stated Raptors point guard Jose Calderon.

“He’s struggled in the past, but he’s been working real hard,”
said Raptors forward Chris Bosh. “Next thing he’s got to work on is his consistency, [which] he’s also gotten better at.”

All in all he is having a career year.  We know it’s only 18 or so games into the season, but that’s a significant amount of games to use as a predictor for the rest of the season.  Especially with a young player with potential.

“Andrea’s getting much more comfortable,” said Raptors head coach Sam Mitchell.  “Mentally he’s getting better and tougher. [But remember] he’s still a young player.”

After last season’s playoffs, in which we listed Bargnani as one of the least valuable players, the third-year player from Rome’s performance this year was going to make or break his career. In the offseason, Bargnani added 15lbs of muscle so as he doesn’t fade again as he did during the end of last season.

And so far, he’s come far from the what looked like a lazy, clueless lump that we saw in the 2008 NBA Playoffs.  Andrea started the season coming off the bench, but his play coupled with Jamario Moon’s lack of production, has him again in the starting lineup, alongside NBA all-stars Jermaine O’Neal and Chris Bosh.

Since being inserted into the starting lineup, Bargnani has been even more productive averqging 14 points and 6 rebounds, including is first double double with a career high 29 points and 10 rebounds in a loss vs. the New Jersey Nets.

Whether the former #1 draft pick in the 2006 NBA Draft will ever justify being picked number one overall is yet to be determined, but at least Raptor fans are seeing dedication in the summer and improvement during the season.  Stay tuned to see whether Bargnani can keep it up.

Links and Resources: Bargnani picking up his play since becoming a starter (TSN), Bargnani could shift to Raptor’s Starting Unit (Toronto Star), Bargnani as on-again, off-again as they come (RotoWorld)

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