As I was following the Blue Jays news today I read an interesting column by Shi Davidi interviewing Bautista and Jose made a really good point about the team saying that you aren't going to win if you expect guys who are naturally .270 hitters to hit .300 or guys that normally hit 15 home runs to hit 30. If you need everyone to overachieve to win, then you are going to be disappointed in the results.
I feel that this is largely what has happened to Bargnani. If Bargnani was in his proper role of a complimentary stretch 4 or instant offense off the bench, we'd likely be talking about what a nice role player he was. Instead, the organization has pencilled him in as the #1 option and he just isn't that guy. Never has been. Never will be. But, if you make him the guy (and they have) then he needs to produce and expecations are high. Are the expectaions fair? No, but that's what happens.
I made similar posts in a couple threads a week or two ago.
Adding to your point, I think the fact that he was drafted #1 overall also unfairly added to the heap of unjustified expectations placed on him.
I also worry about DeRozan, if Bargnani were to be traded. I don't think DeRozan is a legitimate #1 scoring option / franchise cornerstone type player either, but you can bet that is the role he would be thrust into by Raptors management, both on the court and in their marketing campaigns. I can easily envision this fanbase turning on him within a season or two, just like they turned on Bargnani. Yes he's young, yes he's athletic, yes he's a hardworker, yes he loves the city of Toronto... but eventually his shortcomings (3pt shot & defense) will overshadow the positives/potential and become his downfall.
I think Bargnani and DeRozan could both be solid contributors on a much better team (be it in Toronto or elsewhere), provided they aren't asked to be anything more than #2-4 scoring options (and certainly not asked to lead/carry a team or be the face of the franchise).
Why have fans turned on Bargnani? Speaking for myself it is because he doesn't give max effort and through his actions/play it is clear he doesn't give a shit either. Unless DeRozan significantly regresses, becomes a basket case of injuries, or stops giving his full effort, I don't see fans turning on him.
DeRozan is not even the 2nd most talented player on the team. Lowry and Bargnani are #1 and #2 - in that order. If we are worrying about a player being turned on, I'd nominate Lowry before DeMar.
I do agree that Bargnani's apparent disinterest this year and lack of internal fire/passion (at least, as it is displayed on court), is added cause for concern. If he was giving the same effort he was giving during his good run last year, but his shot just wasn't falling, then I could defend him more strongly. However, when his inefficient scoring is coupled with a regressed effort, it is definitely cause for alarm.
a) I'm not sure what you're saying about his passion and effort are true, and I don't know how you can say that with such certainty. You've been a more clear-headed analyst in the past, so I'll chalk it up to abject frustration.
b) Whether he looks like he's not giving max effort or whether he actually isn't giving max effort -- either way, he hasn't changed markedly in 7 years.
In the case of a), it's pure speculation.
In the case of b), getting panties in a bunch all of a sudden, when Bargnani has been who he is for his whole career, is irrational, if understandable.
Seriously, the fortunes of this team, good or bad, are not tied to Bargnani. He's not an anchor on the salary cap now or in the future, he's a tradeable asset now and in the future (as is well-known, 7-footers are always coveted by *someone*), he's still one of the top-3 scoring options on this current roster even on his worst day, and he hasn't changed in years.
It sounds like the first 10 games of this year have simply been the straw that broke the camel's back for some fans -- which again, I understand. But it's not the end of the world, and the vitriol really is out of pace with the reality of the situation.
a) The certainty comes from watching the games from before last year, last year, and now.
b) As a whole in his career, no, it has not changed. But it did change for a brief shining moment last year when everything came together. This year he is back to Bargnani of old (and incredibly worse!).
I disagree that Bargnani is not an anchor on the team. No his salary is not bad. Of course he can be moved. The issue is the current situation makes Casey and management look soft. The Raps are suppose to be a tough, defensive minded team who play hard night in and night out. Casey has talked about accountability and holding guys to it. If I was a younger player (key word here is younger) I would be beyond pissed. I'd start tuning Casey out and look to find anyway out. You can only hold certain players to different standards for so long before it blows up in your face.
Obviously I disagree with your perception of the seriousness of the situation.