“We have showed a lot of real positive signs,” Triano said. “When you look at the teams we have beaten (Orlando, Boston, Oklahoma City), we’ve beaten some very good teams and played with other good teams (Miami, L.A. Lakers, Portland). I think that shows where we can be.”
But what Triano doesn’t know yet is whether this is a team that is both willing and able to play with the kind of effort that got them huge upsets in Orlando and against Boston with any kind of consistency.
“We have a lot of young players and being able to do that over the course of 82 games or over a 10-game segment and not just three or four in the middle of that (segment) is going to be the challenge for this team.”
Triano was asked specifically if there were any disappointments at this stage in the season.
“No, not really,” he said. “I obviously would like to be able to shoot the ball a lot better. I think our offensive production was probably a little bit higher last season but it’s starting to come. It’s guys becoming more familiar with each other. Two of our main scorers are (Leandro) Barbosa and (Linas) Kleiza and they were not here last year. I think those are the two guys that can score off the bench.”
As a team, the Raptors are shooting just over 46% and sit 12th in the NBA. Last season they shot just over 48% and were sixth overall.
“It’s easier because I have more taouches this year and more opportunity to be aggressive and to score the ball,” Bargnani said.
But as the chart that accompanies this column shows, Bargnani has been a much bigger factor on the boards in the games Evans has missed than in the one’s he has actually played.
The 12-board outburst on Friday also had something to do with the opponent Bargnani was up against, in the opinion of head coach Jay Triano.
“He was guarding a guy who was a lot closer to the basket as opposed to the guys he usually guard who are usually 15 to 17 feet out,” Triano said. “He went after it last night. He was very aggressive.”
Triano also feels that tweaking when and how often he rests Bargnani as he did on Friday could have been a factor.
“I don’t know if it was us managing his minutes and resting him a little bit more — twice in a half instead of just once for a longer period — but he just seems more energized when we do it that way.”
Whatever they’re doing it’s working. Now it’s just a matter of duplicating it on a nightly basis.
Under the category of disappointing, Linas Kleiza might top the list.
The free-agent forward began the season as a starter but was supplanted by Sonny Weems and really hasn’t found his niche yet.
He’s been shuttling between small forward and power forward coming off the bench and has yet to hit his stride, averaging 10 points a game.
“He’s starting to come and that’s me getting to know him a little bit,” Triano said of Kleiza.
“His production in different games is going to be based on matchups and what we have; whether he’s going to be a four or whether he’s going to be a three. And to be fair to him, we’ve had him all over the map. But that’s what we’ve asked him to do and he’s been willing and capable.”
Jay Triano, 58, grew up in Niagara Falls, Ont., just a few minutes from the Rainbow Bridge. His high school years coincided with the Buffalo Braves’ brief run as an NBA playoff team. He eagerly awaited the few Braves “home games” at Toronto’s Maple Leaf Gardens, and on occasion, he’d drive over the border to buy a standing room only ticket for games at Buffalo’s Memorial Auditorium.
“That was my team,” Triano said after a Raptors shootaround the day after the Bills played in Toronto. “Bob McAdoo, Ernie D., Jim McMillian, Gar Heard, Randy Smith, those were my guys. It was an exciting time for me. I was a basketball fan and a player and that’s how I got introduced to the NBA.”
Triano also developed an affinity for Little 3 basketball, particularly the Niagara Purple Eagles. He fondly recalls watching Calvin Murphy play on Canadian television.
“He’s very familiar with the rich tradition of Niagara basketball and the Little 3 and has great appreciation for it,” said former Purple Eagles coach Jack Armstrong, who has been part of the Raptors broadcast team for the last 13 years.
Triano was the leading scorer all four seasons at Simon Fraser. He set 11 school records, including the all-time scoring mark of 2,616 points. He also played football as a senior. During the summers, Triano would go to the Gallagher Center looking for quality pickup games.
In 1981, Triano was drafted in the eighth round by the Los Angeles Lakers and in the sixth round by the CFL’s Calgary Stampeders. He later received an invitation from former Niagara coach Frank Layden to attend the Utah Jazz training camp.
The pinnacle of Triano’s playing career came on the international stage. He played for the Canadian National Team for 11 years, serving as captain from 1981-88. He participated in the Olympic Games in 1980, 1984 and 1988. He played in the World University Games four times, including in 1983 when Canada won the gold medal and he led the tournament in scoring. In 1985, he carried the Canadian flag during the opening ceremonies in Japan.
Wins Produced tells us that, over his career, Andrea Bargnani is not productive, and this season is no different. But fans of the NBA have been fooled into thinking that Bargnani is a good player due to the number of points he scores, regardless of his shooting efficiency and other important aspects of basketball (most notably rebounding). Factoids like the ones mentioned on T.Jose Calderford are the type of things that show up during broadcasts and make casual fans think that Bargnani is a good player (even though Joe Barry Carroll is included in this list).
No, Bargnani should not be an all-star. In fact, Bargnani wouldn’t even be on my all-star ballot. Yes, he is one of the few young seven-footers to reach an arbitrary number of points scored per game; but if you take a closer look at the numbers you will find that he is not as productive as his PPG suggests.