$dbc = mysqli_connect ('localhost', '', '', '') OR die (mysqli_connect_error()); Introducing the new Andrea Bargnani | Hardwood Canvas

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Introducing the new Andrea Bargnani

Hello World!

Introducing the new Andrea Bargnani.

The hedge out high on defensive pick and rolls Bargnani…the give me the damn ball in the post Bargnani…the make the obvious extra pass Bargnani…the aggressive driving to the basket and dunking ‘with no regard for human life’ Bargnani.

To avoid utter obnoxiousness here, plainly stated this year’s refreshing version of Andrea Bargnani has been anything but the somewhat underwhelming marquee talent of his first five Raptors’ seasons.

Now we mean that in a relative sense considering the 7-foot Italian giant with a feathery outside touch and a surprisingly lethal shot fake came into the league selected No. 1 overall by then first-year Raptors’ GM Bryan Colangelo.

Being taken number one overall carries a tremendous amount of weight and expectations.  And by most accounts Bargnani, to this point, has been considered unworthy of such a lofty crown.

But something’s different this year.  Something has changed.  Bargnani doesn’t appear timid, quiet or scared.

No…there’s none of that.

Bargnani looks charged.  His demeanor a healthy mix of seasoned confidence and fresh commitment.

That very demeanor was apparent in Wednesday night’s 92-77 home victory over the youthful Cleveland Cavaliers where the perimeter-oriented big man poured in a game-high 31 big points – 21 coming in the second half – to lead the Raps to an impressive win and a .500 record on the early season.

Bargnani was all smiles while barking out defensive orders and relishing with his teammates in Toronto’s 15-point victory.  Demonstrative and visibly content, his elation in the team’s win and his overall fine play was right there for faithful Raps’ fans to see.

This all coming from a player generally more known for his resemblance to Tim Duncan in terms of on-court emotion than say Kevin Garnett.

Expression-less and stoic this is the Bargnani fans in Canada have come to, well, think they know.

But this season has been different and Bargnani appears deadset on changing years of growing perception by becoming the franchise player Toronto thought they got when they drafted him back in 2006; and even more so when Chris Bosh walked away, now, more than a season ago.

Granted his rebounding and blocked shot totals still remain seemingly lackluster for a man of his size; there is no doubt the big guy is playing the best, most engaged and well-rounded basketball of his short NBA career.

Over the first six games of the 2011-12 NBA season Bargnani is averaging a team-high 24.0 ppg – good for seventh in the league, 6.0 rbg and 2.5 apg on 54.6% shooting from the floor; His points, assists and field goal percentage all career highs.

For Bargnani the obvious growth in his game this season resides in the efficiency department.  While he is averaging a little over a shot and a half less per game this year, his scoring average has increased by an impressive 2.6 points.

Last season the spot up shooting center averaged 21.4 ppg on 17.8 shots, this season he is getting 24.0 points-per-game on just 16.2 shots.

The key to Bargnani’s efficiency this early season lay in the aggressive and confident nature with which he is taking those shots and, of course, where those aforementioned attempts are coming from on the court.

Always a dead-eye outside shooter, Bargnani is utilizing the shot fake much more to get into the teeth of the defense and finish aggressively at the rim.  Instead of shooting a one-dribble jumper or shying away from contact he appears to be seeking out that physicality early on.

It remains to be seen if that aggressive nature continues, but his 6.2 free throw attempts per game indicate a desire to be a much more efficient scorer for the Raps moving forward.

Although Bargnani’s offensive exploits have been solid, it never has truly been the real reason he’s been looked so down upon.

Bargnani’s effort defensively has always been the question.  His visible disdain for contact.  His inability to put a body on someone and box out.  His lack of fire and aggression on that all important end of the court.

Well that too appears to have changed…at least for now.

He will never be a dominant defensive presence in the National Basketball Association; but for his part he is trying.

New Head Coach Dwane Casey has these baby Raps playing inspired basketball and Bargnani looks to have bought in willingly to the cause.

On defensive pick and rolls he is fighting hard to hedge out strong to halt the ball handler and quickly dash back to his man rolling.  Although his rebounding totals are roughly the same, his defensive rebounds are up a little more than a board and a half per contest.

Which means that he is taking pride in ending defensive possessions by securing the all-important carom.

Another important and new development in not only Bargnani’s, but all of the Raptors’ play this season is their commitment to talking on defense.

Great defenses have all guys connected and communicating at all times and Casey is doing his utmost to instill that philosophy into his players.

To that end the Raptors boast the 7th ranked NBA defense in terms of points allowed per game, keeping opponents to just 91.5 points per game this season.

And Bargnani, obviously, has been a big part of that defensive movement thus far.

It’s only been six games; so we’ll see if Bargnani’s rejuvenated game as well as the Raptors continues.

Only then can we really claim that there is a new Andrea Bargnani in town, but so far the 7-foot tall Italian has looked better than ever.

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