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Raptors have gone 8-2 without Bargnani. Coincidence?

Jan 3, 2013, 1:18 PM EDT

Toronto Raptors center Andrea Bargnani reacts to a call during the second half of their NBA basketball game against the Utah Jazz in Salt Lake City, Utah Reuters

On December 10, the enigmatic Andrea Bargnani went down with a ligament tear in his left elbow. Two nights later the Raptors lost to the Brooklyn Nets to fall to 4-19 on the season.

But since then the Raptors are 8-1, including a thumping of the Trail Blazers on Wednesday night.

Coincidence?

Yes and no.

We need to say up front that a lot of what has fueled the Raptors win streak is the schedule. The wins over the Blazers and Rockets in this stretch can be considered quality, but most of the wins are of the Hornets, Magic, and Cavaliers variety. Toronto is in the soft part of its schedule.

But so were the Clippers in December — you have to beat the teams in front of you on the schedule and earlier in the season the Raptors were not doing that. Now they are.

Because they are just flat out playing better without Bargnani in the rotation.

Their offense is scoring 8.3 points per 100 possessions better than their season average in the last 10 games, in part because they are just shooting the ball better (their eFG%, which accounts for the bonus of a made three, has jumped from 48.3 percent on the season to 52.7 percent the last 10 games).

Then on the other end of the floor, the Raptors defense is nearly 4 points per 100 possessions better than their season average.

Look at it this way, in games 11-20 of the season the Raptors were a -8.2 points per 100 possessions when you compare their offense and defense. In the last 10 games that is +10.3, which is second best in the NBA in that stretch.

No Bargnani has meant more Ed Davis, and he is showing off an improved jumper — he was spotting up against the Blazers and making LaMarcus Aldridge look a step slow. Davis was 9-of-12 for 19 points against the Blazers and has been strong the last 10 games — when Bargnani comes back Dwane Casey can’t take Davis out of the starting lineup. He has earned the right to stay.

DeMar DeRozan, Jose Calderon and Kyle Lowry are playing well. Landry Fields is back and is contributing on the boards as he tries to figure out where he fits in the rotation. It’s all coming together.

We know the Raptors are going to be busy at the trade deadline. Bargnani will be shopped hard (and while there is a market for him it’s not one that brings back a lot of real talent or value). Either Calderon or Lowry will be moved (maybe in connection with Bargnani to add value).

But what we’ve learned the last 10 games is there are some pieces that can really work on that Raptors roster. They don’t have a star, but they have some pieces that can be part of a very good team. Now, whether Bryan Colangelo can put those pieces together is another question, but we know there are things that can work in Toronto.

And Bargnani is no longer one of them.

  1. nagidac - Jan 3, 2013 at 1:43 PM

    I hate that the Raps are going to trade Calderon, but if he can take Bargnani with him and get some talent back, then adios! Calderon has been playing fantastic this season, but with Lowry now back from injuries, the team isn’t big enough for both of them. Personally, I’d rather Calderon right now, but Lowry has more potential long term, so the smart move is to keep him.

    • misterchainbluelightning - Jan 3, 2013 at 2:05 PM

      That and you just traded a lottery pick to get Lowry so trading him is kinda out of the question right now.

    • saint1997 - Jan 3, 2013 at 9:52 PM

      Calderon is an easy player to like. Never whinges, never moans. What about him to the Hornets for Al-Farouq??

  2. nygdriveforfive - Jan 3, 2013 at 1:49 PM

    I think you HAVE to start Eddie D. His production in limited minutes has proven not be a fluke, now that he is getting starter minutes. Listen, is Barny a bust? I would say no seeing as he is the prob the best player not named Aldridge from that draft. Trading him now would certainly be selling low. Even if he comes back and struggles of the bench, I’m not sure his trade stock could drop any lower. His D has gotten better year over year but it is still pretty bad for a guy his size. Having a true center would help Barny alot with his defensive deficiencies. Barny coming of the bench without the burden of being the primary rebounder/stoper would be ideal. I don’t know where he fits in but I don’t want to deal him for nothing as he has proven to be a top 10 scoring big man in the east.

    • borderline1988 - Jan 4, 2013 at 9:18 AM

      Ed Davis is sticking those 10 – 15 foot jumpers when rolling off picks…it makes a huge difference b/c his offensive game is limited (he doesn’t have much of a back to the basket game, and can’t really face people up). Good for him.

      There are lots of big men who can defend and rebound, but ones who can set screens and hit those jumpers when rolling off them will always have a job in the NBA.

  3. gpatrick15 - Jan 3, 2013 at 1:59 PM

    I have always felt that, on the right team, with the right system, he could thrive in a “extremely poor mans Dirk Nowitzki” kind of role. At this point, we know what Bargnani is: an offensive PF with very little defensive presence and absolutely no presence on the glass. He needs a coach who would focus on what he is and not harp on about what he isn’t. If he played on a team with a dominant center or a team with a defensive background, that would hide his inefficiencies and allow him to thrive. He could play “extremely poor mans Dirk” on a contender, and everyone would forget that he’s a 7ft traffic cone defensively. Whatever teams pulls the trigger on him could potentially get a good 2nd or 3rd option on offense, and hide him on defense and get away with it.

  4. misterchainbluelightning - Jan 3, 2013 at 2:03 PM

    Hornets, Magic, and Cavaliers were considering the Raptors “the soft part of the schedule” before they started playing well. Just saying

  5. nygdriveforfive - Jan 3, 2013 at 2:11 PM

    Barny’s game as we all know is perimeter based. Part of his poor rpg stats can be attributed to the raps scheme and trying to “play” to his strengths (scoring). If they played himblike a traditional Big his rpg would go way up. His ppg would go way down. Should he have developed at least one post up move by now?? heck yes! He is what he is and not having to give up much for him I’m quite sure most teams would love to have him.

    • borderline1988 - Jan 3, 2013 at 8:18 PM

      That would only explain a lack of offensive rebounds. Defensively, he’s usually covering the opposing centre, and considering he’s a very big body and plays lots of minutes, he should be able to have a respectable RPG.

      Compare him to Amir Johnson, who usually covers more mobile big men, yet per 48 minutes kills Bargnani on the boards. It’s called hustle and a willingness to mix things up near the basket. Amir Johnson has that natural aggressiveness and nose for the ball. Bargnani simply does not.

      I can’t even tell you how many times I;ve seen opposing forwards get position on Bargnani, and then get easy rebounds while Bargnani is just standing behind him.

      That’s what pisses me off about Bargnani. At least put some effort into the game when you don’t have the ball. Or get in better shape so you can actually jump a little.

  6. ruffridin - Jan 3, 2013 at 9:09 PM

    Bargs and Jose to the Lakers for Pau and a couple balls

    • badintent - Jan 3, 2013 at 10:32 PM

      Balls ? Ball Girls ? Laker Girls ?? Some LA courtside A-list hoes ? A combination of the latter and the former.?

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