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Andrea Bargnani isn't a very young player and should be entering his prime within the next few seasons, but he still hasn't figured himself out as a player. The seven footer averaged 21.4 points per game, but only managed to grab 5.4 rebounds. Bargnani seemed unmotivated rebound last year, but now he's determined to step up his game even further.
Coming into the league: Andrea Bargnani was drafted first overall, so coming into the league he was expected to be the next great European player. The Raptors picked Bargnani hoping he would become a solid defensive player with time, and they were swept away by his impressive offensive skills. Andrea Bargnani was widely considered as a Dirk Nowitzki clone, but the Raptors were probably hoping he would be the better defender and rebounder seeing as how they picked him with Chris Bosh on the Roster.
Comparison: Keith Van Horn. Van Horn was a very solid pro in the NBA, and retired in 2008. Like Bargnani Van Horn was drafted very high (second overall), and his game was based on his tremendous ability to shoot despite being 6'10".
Van Horn was actually a better rebounder than Bargnani averaging 7.3 boards per game in his first eight seasons, and having a career average of 6.8 rebounds. Despite this, I feel Bargnani will be much like Van Horn in the future, because he has the potential to be better on the glass, but will never really become a defensive presence.
Like Bargnani Van Horn was criticized for his defence. In 2002 he was traded to Philadelphia for Dikembe Mutumbo, and his old coach Byron Scott expressed how much the team benefited after replacing Van Horn for a defensive minded player.
Van Horn was a very solid offensive player averaging a career high of 21.8 points in his second season, and averaging just under 18 points in his first eight seasons. Bargnani still has the potential to score more than that, but the Raptors weren't a talented team last year and Jay Triano's coaching system created more opportunities for Bargnani. If Bargnani is to play on a playoff team he might regress statistically.
Keith Van Horn was relatively young when he retired (32 years-old), and the role he played during the end of his career is a cause for concern in regards to Andrea Bargnani. Van Horn played on five different teams and wasn't valued much by those teams despite being a very productive player. In his final three seasons Van Horn was forced to play off the bench and produced less, but if you were to adjust his minutes to what he received in previous seasons, Van Horn was still good for 15 points per game.
The fact that a player like Van Horn was best utilized off the bench is a cause for concern because the Raptors are hoping Bargnani can be a key player on a playoff team, and they would rather not pay someone $10 million per year to come off the bench.
Best Case: Dirk Nowitzki/Peja Stojakovic.
Dirk and Bargnani are still similar players, and there's no telling how much Bargnani will benefit by playing the same position as him. Last season Dirk Nowitzki played surprisingly well when the Mavericks added Tyson Chandler to the Roster, and that's a player who the Raptors have been targeting all year. Whether it's a free agent or Valanciunas, the addition of a true center could help Bargnani live up to his draft status.
Peja Stojakovic was similar to Bargnani as well, and it would be awesome of Bargnani could thrive like Peja has. Peja was an All-star in Sacramento and won the NBA championship last year playing in Dallas. Peja is 6'10" and was arguably the best three-point shooter in the league back in his heyday.
Stojakovic was never great at rebounding posting career averages of 4.7 rebounds per game, but he was still instrumental to many playoff teams. The reason why I can't compare Bargnani to Peja right now is because Peja was a small forward and his rebounding numbers were actually decent for a small forward. Also, it's hard to suggest Bargnani could play the same role as Peja because Bargnani isn't as agile and would have a hard time keeping up with the athletic small forwards of today.
Worst Case: Tony Kukoc. Tony Kukoc will be remembered for his prominent role on the Chicago Bulls between 1993-1998 where the Bulls--lead by Micheal Jordon, won 3 championships. Kukoc was a very solid player and played for 17 seasons before retiring despite teams still being interested in him.
So why would the sixth man of a championship squad be the worst case scenario for Bargnani? It's because at the end of the day Kukoc finished with career averages of 11.6 points and 4.2 rebounds, the fact that this player could be better than Bargnani hurts because it only proves that Bargnani was a big draft mistake.
Tony Kukoc was very similar to Bargnani, he was 6'11" but would play small forward, power forward, and even shooting guard at times. Sure being versatile is a great thing, but when someone is that talented on offense and still spends most of his career coming off the bench, it makes you lose confidence in Bargnani.
One could argue that Kukoc wasn't as good as Bargnani on offense since his scoring averages in his "prime" seasons were only around 14.1 PPG, but in the three seasons that Kukoc averaged more than 35 minutes per game, he also averaged 18.8 points and six rebounds which isn't that much worse than Bargnani.
Overall some of the closest Bargnani comparisons were only taken seriously with bench roles, and if Bargnani fails to become a difference maker with a real role, it's safe to say he's a bust, and that is the worst case scenario for him.