I feel almost obligated to write this blog. Andrea Bargnani has taken more than his fair share of abuse in blogs, in the media and in general. He never should have been the first overall pick. We could have had Brandon Roy or a number of other names that people will throw out. He can't rebound and he definitely can't defend. But if we are going to point out the bad with Andrea, it is only right to point out the good as well. Last night, granted in a lose, was the best game of Andrea Bargnani's career. He played like a guy that was a first overall pick and a franchise player. He and Amare Stoudemire traded blows like 2 UFC fighters will be doing in a cage at Rogers Centre on April 30. One would make a shot and the other would answer. It really was an impressive display in both offensive skill and clutch performing.
What I expected with Bosh leaving has not happened to Bargnani. What was what I expected? I pretty much thought teams would now double Andrea, and he would not be able to deal with it, and his production on offence would go down the drain. Long before last night he had proved that wrong. But not only last night was Bargnani getting his... to the tune of 41 points. He was also helping others get their own as well. When players are measured in this league it is not just what they do as individuals but it is what they do for the team around them.
How many times have we heard how guys like Magic Johnson, Larry Bird and Michael Jordan made the teams around them better. That for some is the ultimate definition of what makes a "Franchise Player". Andrea Bargnani for the first time for me at least for a night looked like a guy that was a "Franchise Player". It may have been just a one night thing, but this will be a moment if Andrea can develop into a true franchise guy that we will look back on. Don't get me wrong he will never be in the class of the all-time greats that I mentioned. He may never even be in the top 10 players in the league right now. But last night he showed that he has the ability in him to be a dominate player in the NBA.
True he has a long way to go on the other end of the floor. I don't think anyone is ready to even class him as an average defender yet. He still may not rebound to the level we would want and hope for. Although since Reggie Evans was injured, his rebounds in 6 games have gone up to 7.5 per game(Season Average is 5.7). Jack Armstrong made the point that Andrea may just not have as many opportunities to get rebounds with a guy like Reggie on the floor with him. In averaging almost two more boards a game there might be some truth to it.
Doubters will point out the fact that he also while scoring all of those points was not stopping Amare Stoudemire from doing the same. But I think the fact he was answering him on the other end showed that Andrea has a competitive fire inside of him. So many people have written this guy off along the way. I am one of them. It sure seems like he still could be something pretty great by the time the story is done being told.
Patience is something we all seem to lack in this modern world. You only need to look at how people have been throwing Demar and Sonny under the bus to see that. People seem to get frustrated a lot faster in comparison to the past. But things take time and not everyone can come into the league and dominate right away. It has been a long and frustrating road with Andrea Bargnani in that regard. But perhaps last night was a sign that we are starting to get to the light at the end of the tunnel.
Andrea Bargnani has always been a pretty blunt and honest person. Part of that is him learning the English language but still do you every recall Chris Bosh saying he personal sucked on a given night. If Andrea does not play well he would be the first to tell you. I am still not saying their will be a statute outside the ACC of him some day. Which I wrote once when I was to the point of frustration with him and other issues with this team. But he may just be a lot better than many of us gave him credit for being. I am willing to admit when I am wrong and in terms of Andrea I have been about some things.
After all of this I just hope he follows up this performance with a solid game vs Denver. If the Magician disappears it will take the shine off what was a pretty big night for him in New York City. The only bigger night for him was when the Raptors drafted him. It has been a long road for all of us from that moment to this one.