This period, starting from 1st of July, is not a good one for NBA, including players, teams and especially fans. The NBA lockout stopped everything of improving: Teams cannot adjust their rosters, players cannot play in summer leagues, and there is a huge possibility that they will lose many NBA games from the upcoming season.
This period for Andrea Bargnani though, seems to be at least interesting.
First of all, the Toronto Raptors are thinking of giving him the opportunity to play as a power forward. The acquisition of Jonas Valanciunas, is aiming to that point.
Secondly, he understood that aside from his scoring, he must contribute at other parts of the game; defense and rebounding.
This NBA offseason (which may be longer than expected), and especially this period (late summer, early fall), is very interesting for him, because he will have the opportunity to compete against top European centers and PFs (including Valanciunas), and strengthen his flaws.
The Italian national team is participating at the European championship in Lithuania, and until now they played many games in order to be part of and prepare for this event.
What we've seen so far?
Andrea's accumulated stats for the last eight games are the following:
24.1 pts, 6.6 rebs, 2 blocks, playing 30.6 minutes per game.
Some of the opponents were easy, like Bulgaria (he had only 18 points and 3 rebounds there), or BYU where he had 17 points and 19 rebounds in only 20 minutes of play; but some were tough, like Greece and Russia
What Andrea did against these teams?
14 points, 8 rebounds in 29:50 against Greece
23 points, 3 rebounds in 30:30 against Russia, and
16 points, 11 rebounds in 38:23 against Greece again, yesterday.
Especially in the "Acropolis" tournament, in Greece, against Poland, BYU and Greece (23-25/08) he had the following stats:
17 points, 10 rebounds and 1 block, playing almost 32 minutes per game.
On the Italian team, Andrea is playing as a center. He's not shooting a lot from the perimeter, he's trying to post up players, and he's helping on D and rebounding.
He didn't become a defensive player at all, or a consistent double-digit rebounder, or even Dirk lookalike, but he's showing improvements, especially in rebounding. And this is something very interesting, and positive.
During the European championship, where there will be tougher games and top teams, he will test his abilities against centers or power forwards against Serbia, Germany, France, Latvia and Israel at least, because these teams are in the same group with Italy. So there will be interesting matchups there.
We hope for his further improvement. At least, he has the opportunity to compete against very good players in matches where the win is a necessity and not in friendly ones. It is the best practice that Andrea could have, especially during the NBA lockout.
We will looking forward to watching him play.