As the trade deadline approaches, it’s important to take a look at some of the so-called tradeable assets on this Raptors team. What are the strengths and weaknesses of a player, looking at the current and future possibilities, and of course salary situations.
Salary: $5 million guaranteed rookie contract through 2008-2009, with team option in 2009-2010
Strengths: Deadly 3 point shot and an ability to stay cool in tough situations. High free throw percentage shooter who has an explosive first step. Has the ability to make spectacular plays due to his court vision and passing abilities. Showed in his rookie year that he has some ability to block shots and take charges.
Weaknesses: Inability to play defensively against most centers in his early career. Has a tendency to “over think” situations. Even though he is often aggressive offensively, his defensive aggressiveness is often lacking. Still does not have the timing or position down to rebound consistently on either end of the floor. Has tried to show a post game, but have yet to see the fruits of his labour. Inability to draw fouls on a consistent basis despite his incredibly high free-throw shooting percentage.
Comments: There’s been a swelling of emotion when it comes to Bargnani of late, but it’s not really his fault. Do you sacrifice the offense he can give you in order to teach him a position that he hasn’t had much experience in? Well, the Raptors tried that and missed his point production as he kept attempting to post up, but never got the ball (Antonio Davis-syndrome, as I’d like to call it). Does he shoot from beyond the arc and therefore, sacrifice his ability to get offensive rebounds? Well, the Raptors are doing that now and everyone complains about his lack of rebounding yet again.
I’ve lamented over the fact that we’ve not seen the spectacular play from Il Mago this year because he’s just got so many menial tasks going through his head. He can’t think of a touch pass or taking a charge if he’s got a million things swirling through his head everytime the ball gets around him. Here’s something shocking. He’s actually averaging fewer rebounds this year compared to last year. That’s right. He averaged about 3.9 rebounds last year, as opposed to the 3.5 this year.
Does that mean that we should trade him though? Here’s the thinking of the Raptors staff, and I happen to agree with them. Bargnani basically played the SF position for most of his life. He had to guard smaller players, shoot threes, and drive every once in a while. The Raptors took him, and saw a Dirk-like character and ability, but it was going to take a few years to groom him into the position of center. Centers take a lot of time to develop. Everyone thinks that just cause you’re big, it means you can be a center, but we’ve seen how hard it is to develop one. Out of all of the centers, the Raptors have only one which they can claim any kind of development on, and that’s Eric Montross. Bargnani, is a guy who has gifts that you can’t teach, but he also is lacking in areas that some would say are normal, if not essential for a seven-footer to have. Nevertheless, even if this season is a bust, I’m not willing to mortgage his future unless we get a player of similar stature in return (young, manageable contract, with lots of upside).
Oh, and as a side note, Bargnani as a SF wouldn’t be the end of the world, would it?
Verdict: Off the block due to his perceived future ability as a #1 prospect with unique and gifted skills.