KEY MATCHUP: Bargnani vs. Millsap
The Bargnani-Gasol chatter — borne in part because the Lakers are struggling, relatively, as much as the Raptors are — became the story of the day in Toronto for a few hours as fans grow even more impatient with the enigmatic Roman and a losing team.
Indeed from this report it would seem like Raptors’ President and GM Bryan Colangelo is indeed open to moving his prized pupil, former first-overall pick Bargnani, potentially ending the “now seven years old Andrea Bargnani hostage situation.” One problem. The Lakers ain’t having it.
On bad knees at 32-years-old, Gasol’s rebounding rate is nearly double that of the healthy 27-year-old Bargnani’s. Gasol’s assist percentage is more than double that of Bargnani’s. Pau’s block percentage is higher, he has a better offensive rating and defensive rating. Looking at the advanced metrics and even many of the basic stats, it’s clear to see that Gasol is still better than Bargnani in virtually every facet of the game.
Acy has played 21 minutes over three games for the Raptors, averaging 2.3 points and 2.0 rebounds.
The defence has regressed back to a pre-Casey era, suggesting that last year’s output may have been little more than a mirage. While the offence has improved over a season ago, it is nowhere near solid enough to offset the lack of effort at the other end of the court. Opposing teams are getting into the paint and scoring with ease. Toronto ranks 26th in the NBA in opponent’s field goal attempts at the rim this season, and because teams have such an easy time breaking down the defences on their way to the rim, they’ve also opened up the three-point line for themselves.
“You channel it in the right direction,” Lowry said. “You let it hit you but you channel it the right way. You put it on the other team. Channel it into the scouting report. You do the things you can with it.”
Valanciunas is learning — as teammate Ed Davis pointed out — at or above the expected rate. But the Raptors’ ability to protect their paint has reached crisis proportions and while it’s certainly not all on the young Lithuanian rookie, the likely move will see Valanciunas move to the bench and Amir Johnson start.
It’s not that the blame for this season’s struggles falls squarely on the shoulders of Bargnani (there are a lot of things going on here), or even that he did anything particularly damning in the fourth quarter in Sacramento. The reality is it has been nearly seven years and the Bargnani + Toronto equation has not produced the answer each side wants.
This started as a little joke on Twitter. I said we should do a special edition of the podcast like a CNN Breaking News: Raptors In Crisis. Josh responded with he was free and let’s do it.
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