With two of the Raptors top players succumbing to injuries, the Toronto Raptors played more team basketball and defense than we have seen from them all season and were able to parlay that into five straight wins and eight of their last nine.
Their recent success proved to Raptor fans what many have been saying for a while now, and that is that the Raptors are indeed a better team without Andrea Bargnani on the floor.
There have been a myriad of suggestions regarding how to address this longstanding issue including some calling for Andrea Bargnani to come off the bench…something Bryan Colangelo has probably vehemently opposed as his tenure as GM of the Raptors is and will be defined by the failure of Andrea Bargnani to live up to his No. 1 overall pick status while players from the same draft class like Rudy Gay, LaMarcus Aldridge and Rajon Rondo have all become All-Star talents.
It is a well documented fact that Andrea Bargnani is a major liability on defense but it is now becoming more apparent to the casual fan that he is also a detriment on offense as he operates as a black hole of sorts where once the ball gets in his hands he usually looks to shoot or drive, debilitating the team offense that has clicked so well with Bargs out of the lineup.
Andrea Bargnani has proven that he can be a lights out scorer in the NBA and his lack of defensive acumen makes him a perfect fit for a second unit where he can act as the primary scorer and not affect the team play as much.
Some have asked what the real problem with Andrea Bargnani is, as he just doesn’t seem to put forth the effort needed to succeed in the NBA on the defensive side of the ball. I posit that the answer is a simple one: Andrea Bargnani is still just a very talented athlete who excels at the game of basketball and has yet to become "a basketball player."
Basketball players, no matter the age or ilk, take pride in their defense and aggressively look to box out and rebound as they understand how important these two aspects are to winning basketball games and having team success. This is not to say that every basketball player can play good defense because some like Jose Calderon were just never that good to begin with, and sometimes injuries can exacerbate the problem.
With Kyle Lowry also being injured during the Raptors five game winning streak against mostly sub .500 teams, some including Marc Stein at ESPN have suggested the Raptors may look to include Lowry in future Bargnani deals instead of Jose Calderon as the team is currently clicking under his floor generalship.
That is not going to happen.
Lowry is undoubtedly here to stay as Jose is now advanced in age and Lowry cost the Raptors a hefty price in a future lottery pick. However Jose may not be dealt anymore this season and may be brought back next year at a much more amicable dollar figure.
Jose Calderon has always been among the most effective backups in the NBA and regularly found a way to put up five to six assists per game off the bench, numbers that are better than many starters. He is the perfect player to have in case of an injury to Lowry but coach Dwane Casey would do well to remember why they went out and got another point guard to begin with…Calderon cannot stop any point guard in the NBA…period.
The box score watcher will unequivocally state that Jose Calderon is one of the best point guards in the NBA and that he should be starting over Lowry due to the recent win streak and his eye popping numbers, however the prudent observer will point out that only one team they beat in their recent streak of eight wins in nine games actually had a winning record and that the way Jose runs the point leads him to making less mistakes in the turnover department and at the same time inflates his assist numbers.
Jose’s numbers as a starter have been magnificent at 12.4 points, 10.8 assists and 1.9 threes per game at .466 shooting, which also means his trade value is at an all time high.
Jose has proven his value to us and other teams while Andrea Bargnani has taught us all that addition by subtraction is sometimes possible.
Synergy—the interaction of elements that when combined produce a total effect that is greater than the sum of the individual elements, contributions, etc.—http://dictionary.reference.com/browse/synergy