Toronto Raptors

Amidst Trade Rumors, Can Andrea Bargnani Salvage His Path to Stardom?

LOS ANGELES, CA - DECEMBER 09:  Andrea Bargnani #7 of the Toronto Raptors drives to the basket during a 102-83 Los Angeles Clipper win at Staples Center on December 9, 2012 in Los Angeles, California.  NOTE TO USER: User expressly acknowledges and agrees that, by downloading and or using this photograph, User is consenting to the terms and conditions of the Getty Images License Agreement.  (Photo by Harry How/Getty Images)
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Ethan Sherwood StraussNBA Lead WriterFebruary 17, 2013

Marc Stein of ESPN has been on the Bargnani beat. The Toronto Raptors are looking to possibly move their former number one pick, after some rocky years in the Great White North.

Just going online: ESPN sources say Bulls & Raptors have had exploratory talks on potential trade featuring Carlos Boozer & Andrea Bargnani

— Marc Stein (@ESPNSteinLine) February 7, 2013

All-Star Weekend trade rumble: Charlotte's growing determination to move Ben Gordon has presented Toronto w/another Andrea Bargnani suitor

— Marc Stein (@ESPNSteinLine) February 16, 2013

Sense I get, though, is that Toronto ain't gonna bite on Bargs-for-Gordon deal. Raps have Terrence Ross & Alan Anderson playing well there

— Marc Stein (@ESPNSteinLine) February 16, 2013

 

Andrea Bargnani doesn't quite fit the archetypal "bust" definition. Such players usually play their way out of the league within a half-decade. 

Since the 2006 NBA draft, Bargnani has been a fixture in Toronto's starting rotation. He even had a good season last year, posting career highs in PER and making great strides on defense.

The archetypal NBA bust is also usually chosen over a superstar. Think Sam Bowie over Michael Jordan.

In Andrea Bargnani's case, he was taken in a historically weak draft. Obviously, Toronto would like to go back in time and take LaMarcus Aldridge, but LMA's star status took a long while to build.

So here we are with Bargnani, at age 27. This is theoretically when a player enters his prime. He is theoretically the ideal player for the "four-out" strategy that's sweeping the league. 

Instead, he's slogging through another injury-riddled, disappointing year. He's regressed defensively, after it looked like Dwane Casey showed him the light.

On offense, part of Bargnani's problem is that he's a shooter who suddenly can't shoot. Bargs once shot .409 from deep on 4.3 attempts per game.

Last season and this season so far, Andrea hasn't cracked the 30 percent mark. When you factor in his terrible rebounding numbers and sluggish defense, it's hard to justify a lot of floor time. 

Call me an optimist, but I could see a Bulls trade (as Stein mentioned) re-invigorating the Italian big man's career. Though a plodder, Andrea Bargnani is long. 

Size and length is well-optimized in Tom Thibodeau's defensive system. If Bargnani can reclaim his three-point stroke, he would also augment the spacing in that offense.

We often think of Chicago in defensive terms, but they could have an incredibly exciting offense with a four-out system that spreads the floor for Derrick Rose. The current Bulls often sport two bigs who can't hit long range shots, thus compromising what's feasible on offense.

With Bargnani, Chicago could imitate what's worked for the Knicks, only with Derrick Rose in the Raymond Felton role. High screen-and-rolls would give Rose a good head of steam as he knives into the lane.

Of course, such a trade is the stuff of rumor for now. I just happen to see Chicago (or other defense-first teams like Memphis and Indiana) as nice landing spots for an Andrea Bargnani comeback.

As a current defensive cipher, Bargs should head to a team that can withstand his (possibly negative) impact on that end. Andrea still has the skills to help a squad. At age 27, there's still time. 

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