What do you do if you’re the Toronto Raptors and you’re meeting expectations?
Yes, read that can. Meeting expectations. Unlike most teams, the Raptors have had to exceed everyone’s predictions every year since they entered the NBA with the Vancouver Grizzlies in 1995. Now, with former No. 1 pick Andrea Bargnani again letting the pillow fort fall on top of him, the Raptors may have just realized what the rest of the NBA already knew: Andrea Bargnani isn’t going to get that much better.
“Since then, Bargnani’s been someone you badly want to believe it, but so often lets you down,” wrote Sportsnet‘s Michael Grange, speaking of the dude’s draft year. “Maddeningly, he seems immune to external motivation — coddling, threatening, begging and cussing have all been tried, none of them have resulted in Bargnani turning in more of the masterpieces he’s capable as opposed to the half-hearted finger paintings he turns in so often. It’s disappointing at the best of times, but eventually the anger sets in.”
Maddening. The Anger. Coddling. Immune to external motivation.
Yes, Michael Grange hit the nail on the head. At least, he said what all of Toronto seems to be holding under its collective breath.
But, the meat of the problem is still wrong. The Raptors actually believe Bargnani is capable of being the guy they thought he was originally. When he shows up and defies expectations of another sole stinker, Grange calls them masterpieces. Well, compared to the rest, they may seem like that, but Bargnani has never painted a masterpiece.
LeBron James and Kobe have given us what someone might call masterpieces. Durant is capable of them, but he’s never won anything. Masterpiece. That’s a word that should be reserved for the playoffs, not a lanky Italian who is “immune to external motivation”.
Masterpiece was used for Da Vinci and Michelangelo, not the guy who designed the Barq’s root beer logo.
Get the memo: Andrea Bargnani will never be the guy you drafted No. 1. If you’re okay with that, then keep him and build the rest with him, not around him. If you’re not cool with that, you may have to ship him off.