GM Colangelo backs Bargnani

STEVE BUFFERY, SUN MEDIA

, Last Updated: 8:42 AM ET

PORTLAND -- The most dreaded member of the Raptors travelling entourage in northwest Oregon is not a player, a coach, or even GM Bryan Colangelo.

It's Raptors broadcaster Chuck Swirsky, who is roundly vilified in Portland for being the only member of the North American basketball media with a vote for rookie of the year last season not to cast a first-place ballot for Trail Blazers guard Brandon Roy. Roy received 127 of 128 first-place votes -- the lone dissenter being Swirsky, who voted for Toronto forward Andrea Bargnani.

Today, Trail Blazers chat rooms and websites are full of indignant fans who believe that not only should Roy have been the unanimous choice for rookie of the year, but he and teammate LaMarcus Aldridge, selected sixth and second respectfully in the 2006 draft, are much better picks than Bargnani, who was selected first overall by the Raptors.

While Bargnani is struggling this season, averaging 9.8 points and 3.7 rebounds in 22.5 minutes, Roy and Aldridge are having outstanding seasons for the overachieving Trail Blazers. Roy is averaging 37.5 minutes, 18.9 points, 5.5 assists and 1.08 steals at the point guard spot, while power forward Aldridge is scoring 18.7 points per game, while pulling in 7.7 rebounds.

Colangelo has been placed in the position of being asked to defend himself for drafting Bargnani ahead of Aldridge (originally selected by Chicago) and Roy (originally selected by Minnesota).

"I'm not irritated. It's part of what we do. It's part of our industry," Colangelo said. "And I have the same kind of debates with people all the time, but I just don't get to write about it.

"Everybody said Andrea Bargnani was going to be a bust. He's not," Colangelo said. "Was he the right No.1 pick for the Toronto Raptors? I'll still say today, yes he was."


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