The Raptors have a long line of players who have arrived and then departed.
Camby, Stoudamire, Carter, McGrady, Bosh, none of them stayed. When the Raptors had the first overall pick in the 2006 NBA draft to grab a future star they picked someone who wasn’t going to leave after their first contract and go play for their hometown NBA team. Rome doesn’t have an NBA team, which is where Bargnani is from.
It was a draft without a clear superstar at the top to pick. There was no LeBron James or Blake Griffin, someone who was far ahead of the rest.
The Raptors had to sort through their many options in the 2006 draft. Along with Bargnani there was Brandon Roy, LaMarcus Aldridge, Tyrus Thomas and Adam Morrison.
Brandon Roy would have been a solid pick, as the Raptors didn’t have a great shooting guard in place as Morris Peterson, Anthony Parker and Joey Graham rotated through the spot. Aldridge probably would have worked well, he and Bosh would have been an interesting, and similar, duo in the paint.
Tyrus Thomas would have given them another possible entrant for the dunk competition but he wasn’t needed with Bosh there. Adam Morrison was a popular college player, he could have given them some shooting. But what Toronto were looking to get was some shooting and some post play, which is what Bargnani could combine as he was 7-0 tall and weighed in at 225 pounds when he was drafted.
Before he got to the NBA, Bargnani played three seasons with Benetton Treviso in the Italian League.
In his first two seasons for that club he averaged 4.4 and 5.8 points per game. In his final season his numbers were much better, 11.9 points per game with shooting numbers of 49.3% from the field, 77.4% from the free throw line and 38.1% from three-point range.
In his first two NBA seasons, Bargnani managed double-figures in points and shot well from outside and at the foul line but his field goal percentage was down, 42.7% in his first season and 38.6% in his second. Luckily for the Raptors things have picked up since then.
Something that Toronto have yet to figure out is exactly what position Bargnani plays and what are the right types of players to surround him with. He has the height of a center and the offense of a small forward. Averaged out, that must make him a power forward, Toronto’s version of Dirk Nowitzki.
The Raptors might have had the player, and for a short time their draft rights, that would have been ideal to play next to Bargnani. Roy Hibbert was drafted by Toronto, but for Indiana, in the 2008 NBA Draft.
With Hibberd using his 7-2, 278 frame to protect the basket it would have made it a lot easier for Bargnani on the defensive end. With Hibberd scoring in the post, it would mean Bargnani could get more open looks from outside or Bargnani could take smaller power forwards into the post and shoot over them.
On the 2011 Toronto roster, Ed Davis shows a lot of promise and Amir Johnson has been productive and efficient but they are more power forwards which again has Bargnani playing at center.
The Raptors will be picking high in the draft again, and using that pick to grab a prospect at center and by also maybe making some trades they could rebuild their team so they can win more and get the best that Bargnani can give them.