It really isn’t all his fault. That said, he is, no question, one of the biggest parts of the problem and not much help to the solution. Bargnani has been the main focus of Raptor fans displeasure with their start to the season. The reasons are nothing new for anyone that has followed the Raptors with any frequency over the past few seasons.
However, for the people still hanging on the Bargnani bandwagon, his failures are not erased with one or two minutes of high-level defense. Yes, he did a solid job down the stretch on Luis Scola to close out a Raptors win. Consistently though we do not see this type of performance and we really should.
Bargnani has never been a particularly good defender. That is not news to anyone. What you may not have thought of is how that impacts Jonas Valančiūnas. You might have noticed, like me, that other NBA teams take full aim at Jonas to see if he can handle his business on the defensive end of the floor. If he was playing alongside a good defender he could be bailed out by help defense sometimes.
Help from Andrea Bargnani is not coming very often, if at all. That would include on the boards for rebounding, as well. Kyle Lowry and DeMar DeRozan have been more helpful on that front than Bargnani. Even in those rare games when Bargnani shows up on defense it is almost always at the expense of his offense.
But at least he is still doing his primary and perhaps only true exceptional skill of scoring, right? Yes and no, as Bargnani still has his bursts of scoring as in past seasons. The problem is many times this comes in the first half and Andrea fades into the abyss in the second half.
His scoring average has dipped consistently in three seasons without Chris Bosh. After the expected boost when Bosh left town, where he averaged 21.4 points in 2010-11 a career high he would fall from there. Last season he only played 31 games and his points per game dropped to 19.5 per game. While through 15 games played this season he sits at 17.9 per game, his lowest since the last season Chris Bosh was a Raptor.
Another concern is that he is not getting to the line as much. In the two seasons prior to this one he averaged above five trips to the line per game. That number has dipped to three times per game range. That is not a direct indicator of effort, but it does imply Andrea is not driving to the hoop as much.
Ethan Norof, assistant NBA editor here at the Bleacher Report, brought this shot chart to my attention on Twitter when I mentioned what I was working on. If you click on the link you will see a lot of red. We already mentioned his scoring average slumping. This is while being a volume shooter averaging 16.5 shots per game and just 39.9 percent from the field on the season as of entering play Nov. 30.
Not exactly a season to write home about for him or the Raptors so far. Will we look back on a win over the Suns as a turning point? Perhaps, or it might just be a blip on the radar in another season of unspectacular play for the Raptors.