LOS ANGELES -- The man who knows Andrea Bargnani best -- Raptors assistant general manager Maurizio Gherardini -- has waded into the debate as to why the second-year forward is going through such a miserable sophomore slump.
Gherardini, who recruited the teenaged Bargnani to play for Benetton Treviso for the 2003-04 season, believes the first-round draft pick from 2006 (and first overall in the NBA) is fatigued, the result of a busy off-season.
"Both physically and mentally," Gherardini said. "This was the first season in his career that he didn't stop over the summer (for an extended rest) and those two months might have carried over into the season."
Bargnani played for Italy at the European championship, which also meant taking part in a training camp.
Bargnani's statistics this season are significantly below those of his rookie campaign, which has caused coach Sam Mitchell incalculable angst.
Bargnani had a marvellous rookie campaign, averaging 11.6 points, 3.9 rebounds and 25.1 minutes, and was named to the all-rookie first team. But this season, his numbers are way down. In his four games before last night, the seven-foot Italian had averaged just 2.5 points and 1.0 rebounds in 11.95 minutes. But what has Mitchell even more frustrated is Bargnani's defensive play, which has, more than anything else, limited his minutes.