Friends Of The Rapture: On Andrea Bargnani

This is the first of what I hope to be a series of guest articles by friends of mine in the NBA blogging community. This is Atique Virani’s (@upandatom786 on twitter) post on Andrea Bargnani and what the Raptors should do with him. Enjoy.

On Andrea Bargnani

Andrea Bargnani hasn’t performed like a number one pick.

That isn’t news for anyone. The Italian big man, while showing flashes of All-Star scoring potential, has also shown flashes of D-League worthy defense. His rebounding has been just as bad. All in all, he hasn’t lived up to his top billing. But honestly, he didn’t have top billing. Yes, he was drafted #1 overall, but was there a talent available in that year who was a slam dunk? Brandon Roy was a walking injury risk, LaMarcus Aldridge was still unproven, JJ Redick was thought to be a shorter Adam Morrison, both great college players who would be unable to translate their success to the NBA. Rajon Rondo was a huge project. We can say with relative certainty that the Raptors front office wasn’t necessarily wrong when they picked a 7 foot big man with shot blocking ability and 3 point range.

But that’s all in the past. Right now, we know that Bargnani can’t be the centerpiece of a successful team. So what to do with him? He’s probably best suited for a team with a strong team defense around him, to protect and cover up his own defensive liabilities. He would also be most helpful on a team that struggles to score. One team fits the bill to a T: The Milwaukee Bucks. They’re one of the best defenses (and worst offenses) in the league. That’s good because Il Mago is one of the best offensive (and worst defensive) big men in the league. He would have the second best defensive center in the league protecting the rim for him in Andrew Bogut, and he’d have all the offensive touches he can handle. It’s a perfect fit.

So what can the Raptors expect in return? That’s tough. They would probably want some young guys, either Luc Richard Mbah a Moute or Chris Douglas Roberts (Larry Sanders is basically out of the question). However, in order to make salaries match, they’d need to take on someone like Corey Maggette, whose contract is two years shorter than Bargnani’s, but slightly more expensive per year.

That said, the Raptors would probably jump on this deal. It’d allow them to rid themselves of Bargnani’s bad contract and get a promising young player. If picks are thrown in, that’s just icing on the cake. For the Bucks, they’d get someone who can instantly step in and score 20+ a game, something they sorely need. They’d also move Maggette’s contract for someone with their prime in front of them. They’d probably want to keep Mbah a Moute, a talented young defender who started more than 50 games this last year for them. They’d also probably be hesitant to throw in picks. It depends on what they believe Bargnani is worth.

This wouldn’t be a trade where both teams get better. Toronto would, on paper at least, get worse, and Milwaukee would be making a huge gamble. However, Toronto would also get salary relief and the start of a proper rebuilding, and if the gamble pays off for Milwaukee, it could propel them back into the playoffs.

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