Bargnani needs to get more out of his talent

RYAN WOLSTAT, QMI Agency

, Last Updated: 7:00 PM ET

INDIANAPOLIS — It is about time Andrea Bargnani decides if he is going to be part of the problem or part of the solution.

Long ago Bryan Colangelo hitched his wagon to the idea that Bargnani would be a big part of the latter in Toronto but the man he put his faith in has been a massive disappointment of late.

Granted Bargnani’s 17-for-62 shooting over his past three games makes it easy to fire shots at him, but this goes far beyond what he does or does not provide at the offensive end.

The issue with Bargnani remains his frustrating inability to get the best out of his talents by outworking opponents and showing commitment at both ends of the floor.

That means not allowing big men such as Roy Hibbert (24 points, 11 rebounds vs. Raptors), Kevin Love (6-for-10, 12 rebounds in 24 minutes against Toronto), Ersan Ilyasova (9-for-10) and Andrew Bogut (10-for-12) to do whatever they want inside.

It means chasing down loose balls and doing a much better job keeping opponents off of the boards (Indiana outrebounded Toronto 56-38 on Monday — including 15-8 in a first quarter that saw Bargnani play 10.5 of 12 minutes).

Bargnani has the height and base to do a better job in those regards. It is a matter of effort and will. There should be some pride shown in trying not to post the worst rebounding numbers for a big man in the history of the league.

His other main deficiency — painfully poor help defence — a trait shared by the bulk of his teammates which makes him look even worse — is not something that is easily fixed, but it would be forgiven if he appeared to be working harder at the areas of his game that can be upgraded.

Offensively, Bargnani can also work harder. That means going to the tough areas like the low post instead of flinging up jump shots, even if they are “good shots” as the Raptors constantly claim.

To his credit, Bargnani did not use nagging injuries or overuse as excuses for his dismal play.

He also admitted after the team’s 12th loss in a row on Monday that going down low as he was when he was on an excellent scoring streak earlier in the season was something he needs to return to.

Saying it is one thing though, actions speak far louder.

Knowing that blaming Bargnani entirely for this train wreck of a season is unfair, his teammates have come to his defence — most recently Reggie Evans, whose rebounding proficiency Bargnani dearly misses.

Via Twitter, Evans said “If people do not have nothing good to say about (Bargnani, they) can kiss (where) the sun do not shine cause he our best player.”

That the Raptor who gets the most out of his talents came to the aid of the guy who gets the least at least shows Bargnani has friends in the room.

But this league isn’t about making pals or being friendly on the court.

When the Raptors buckle down and play some defence and hit the glass hard — even if it means taking something away from their offence — they find success.

When rookie Ed Davis — the most obvious example — was on the floor against the Pacers the game changed. Despite Indiana’s overall 16-rebound advantage, Toronto outrebounded the Pacers 15-13 in the second quarter. Bargnani played just over three minutes in that frame. Davis all but 30 seconds.

Davis does not yet have the stamina to play big minutes, but he is already averaging more rebounds and blocks than Bargnani in 14 less minutes.

Davis is playing like he’s a big part of Toronto’s future.

“Every game he seems to get better and better,” said Amir Johnson.

Meanwhile, Bargnani is going the other way and it is up to him to show he should be as well.


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