Bosh's New Teammate
The Toronto Raptors "won" the NBA Draft lottery yesterday evening and will have the #1 overall pick in the 2006 draft. There are two needs on the Raptors they will try to address in the draft - small forward and point guard. Unfortunately there are no PG's deserving of the top pick, but there is a small forward with superstar potential waiting. Andrea Bargnani is a 7'0 225lb forward who plays for Benneton Treviso in the Euroleague. Unlike many European prospects who enter the NBA Draft, Bargnani is already playing key minutes in Euroleague games and not in a lower or Junior league, and he's playing very well in those opportunities. During the Euroleague regular season he averaged 10.6ppg on 60% shooting and 47% from 3pt range. Once he entered the playoff stage (in the Euroleague it's a round robin group event) he upped his scoring to 11.5ppg and still shot 50% from the floor [LINK to stats]. The Euroleague is a step above NCAA competition and somewhere below the NBA - but make no mistake, for a 20 year old to contribute and play that well for a Super 16 team in the Euroleague is a huge accomplishment.
Bargnani is very fluid and an exceptional ball handler for someone his size - very similar to Dirk Nowitski. When he played in an exhibition game against the Raptors before this season, he was beating Bosh off the dribble - something you don't expect to see from a man his size. With a potent 3 point stroke and a his ball handling, Bargnani is going to score points in the NBA. Whether he can defend adequately is questionable, and he's going to have to put on some weight and get better on the glass - but he could form a very potent and agile frontcourt with Bosh and Villenueva. With the dearth of true physical centers in the NBA the defensive weakness of that lineup might not be as scary as it looks on paper ... and there's 3 guys capable of 30 point games anytime out.
Bargnani has made it clear that he would like to play for Toronto, Collangelo has been to Italy recently to see him play and came away very impressed and Toronto has recently hired Benneton Treviso GM Maurizio Gherardini as an assistant. All of those signs point to Bargnani being the #1 overall pick and joining Bosh as his newest running mate in Toronto. I think it would be a fine pick, Bargnani is the only person in the draft with "superstar" potential and his skillset as a dangerous wing shooter matches with Bosh.
Here are three videos of Bargnani in action ... and remember, these are against quality competition equivalent to top conference NCAA basketball or better. The guy can flatout play basketball.