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Andrea Bargnani, nicknamed "Il Mago" (translated to "The Magician"), (born 26 October 1985 in Romemarker, Italymarker) is an Italianmarker professional basketball player with the Toronto Raptors of the National Basketball Association. He was selected first overall in the 2006 NBA Draft. He is a power forward/centre standing at 213 cm (7 ft 0 in) and weighing 113.4 kg (250 lbs). Prior to his NBA career, Bargnani played for Benetton Treviso in the Italian Lega A and the elite Euroleague. In his first two seasons with the Raptors, he helped the team reach the NBA Playoffs, including the Atlantic Division title in 2006–07.

Career

Europe

Bargnani began his career in 2002–03 with Stella Azzurra Roma in Italy's Serie B2 division, averaging 13.2 points and 4.5 rebounds in 23 games. He then signed with Lega A side Benetton Treviso for the 2003–04 season and played there until 2006.

In 2003–04, he posted averages of 4.9 points and 2.0 rebounds in 10 games in his first Lega A season with Benetton. He made eight appearances in Euroleague action, recording 2.4 points and 1.5 rebounds an outing. Incidentally, Bargnani faced his future team, the Toronto Raptors, on 20 October 2003 in a pre-season game at the Air Canada Centremarker. He tallied 13 points, five rebounds, one steal and two blocks in 22 minutes in an 86–83 defeat to the Raptors.

In 2004–05, he averaged 12.2 points and 5.4 rebounds in 28 Lega A games for Benetton, and averaged 3.7 points and 2.1 rebounds in 18 Euroleague matches. The next season, he averaged 15.3 points, 7.1 rebounds, 1.7 blocks and 1.8 steals in 47 games for Benetton. He posted a season high of 25 points against Rome. He also shot .528 from the field and .408 from three-point range, and led the Lega A in blocks with 82. In the process, he helped lead Benetton to Italy's Lega A 2006 championship. In the Euroleague, he contributed 10.9 points, 4.1 rebounds and 1.3 blocks, while shooting .558 percent from the floor and .434 from three-point range in 18 games. He posted a season-high 20 points against Panathinaikos and Strasbourg. Bargnani was subsequently named as the Euroleague "Rising Star" as the "Top European Young Player of the Year" for 2005–06.

NBA

Rookie season

Bargnani entered the 2006 NBA Draft and was selected first overall by the Toronto Raptors. On 1 November 2006, in his regular season debut against the New Jersey Nets, in 8 minutes of play he recorded 2 points, 2 rebounds and 2 blocks. In the process, he also became the fourth ever Italian-born player to play in the NBA. Like many rookies, Bargnani took some time to adapt to the league and as he slowly improved his game, his confidence and playing time increased. Nonetheless, the home fans soon warmed up to Bargnani; on 7 January 2007, 10,000 Bargnani figurines were given away at Air Canada Centremarker for the game against the Washington Wizards. As the mid-season approached, Bargnani was selected as NBA's Eastern Conference Rookie of the Month (January 2007), joining fellow teammate Jorge Garbajosa (winner of the award in December 2006) as the sixth Raptors player to win the monthly honor. Together with Garbajosa, Bargnani was also selected to play in the T-Mobile Rookie Challenge game. After the All-Star break, Bargnani continued to work on his defence and shooting (averaging 14.3 points per game (ppg) and 3.9 rebounds per game (rpg) in 12 games for the month of February 2007), and he was selected as the Eastern Conference Rookie of the Month for the second straight time on 1 March 2007. Bargnani became the third Raptor ever to win the award twice, joining Vince Carter and Damon Stoudamire.

On 21 March 2007, Bargnani underwent emergency appendectomy surgery after being taken to hospital following illness experienced after practice the night before. He recovered after about a month, and ended the season, averaging 11.6 points and 3.9 rebounds per game. His performances were credited as helping the Raptors win their first ever Division title, as well as their first NBA Playoffs berth in five years; Bargnani came in second for NBA Rookie of the Year. In the 2007 NBA Playoffs, Bargnani averaged 11.0 ppg and 4.0 rpg as the Raptors were defeated by the New Jersey Nets 4–2 in the first round. On 8 May 2007, Bargnani and Garbajosa were named to the NBA All-Rookie team.

Sophomore campaign

On 5 October 2007, the Raptors announced they had exercised a third year option on Bargnani, giving a guaranteed NBA contract through the 2008–09 season and retaining a fourth year option for the 2009–10 season. Prior to the 2007–08 season, Bargnani was voted by the general managers of the league as the "international player most likely to have a breakout season". Seemingly asked to play out of position, he was slated to form the front court together with All-Star power forward Chris Bosh, but despite leading the team in scoring for the first couple of games, Bargnani struggled for most of the first half of the season. Notwithstanding his poor form, the Italian was selected to play with the Sophomores in the T-Mobile Rookie Challenge during the NBA All-Star Weekend. By the season's end, however, Bargnani was widely criticised for having a poor season. His statistics had gone down, he was not grabbing enough rebounds, was unable to shoot well, got into foul trouble easily and did not drive to the basket enough. He did not feature prominently in the playoffs either—which the Raptors were eliminated by the Orlando Magic in the first round—and there were even calls for him to be traded.

2008–09 campaign: breakthrough

Bargnani averaged nearly 20 points and 1.3 blocks a game in the second half of the 2008–09 season
However, Toronto was not about to give up on Bargnani yet and committed the entire summer coaching him to become a more effective interior player, forcing him to drive to the basket more and settle less for jump shots. The arrival of six-time NBA All-Star Jermaine O'Neal also meant that Bargnani was likely to come off the bench in most games, with Bosh and O'Neal forming the starting frontcourt. During the summer he worked hard on his body, putting up some more weight (adding some 15 pounds of muscle); this work showed his effects in the first games of the regular campaign, when the Italian was more willing to rebound in traffic and drive to the basket. He also seemed to rediscover his shooting stroke, had better shot selection and became a consistent shot-blocker, and he was soon moved to the starting line-up as small forward.

On 21 November 2008, Bargnani recorded a career-high 29 points, as well as 10 rebounds in an overtime loss against New Jersey. After some stumbles in December, he hit good form in January, averaging 21.2 points and 6.7 rebounds over a 15-game stretch as he became the starting centre in place for the injured O'Neal, recording a career-high 31 points against Chicago in the process. O'Neal was then traded to Miami during the All-Star break, allowing the Italian to regain his starting spot for the rest of the season. He averaged 19.8, 17.9 and 20.3 points per game for January, February and March respectively, even as Toronto went on several losing streaks and gradually fell out of the playoff race. The Raptors concluded the regular season with 33 wins, and ranked 13th in the Eastern Conference. Meanwhile, Bargnani recorded career-high averages in points per game, field goal percentage, three-point percentage, rebounds and blocks. On 8 July 2009, he signed a contract extension with the Raptors that will pay him US$50 million over five seasons, starting in 2010–11.

2009–10 season

Bargnani's form and numbers continued in the 2009–10 season. In the first ten games, the centre averaged 19.3 points, 5.7 rebounds and 1.1 blocks per game.

National team

Bargnani playing for the Italian national team
Bargnani has played for the Italian junior and under-20 national teams. He competed on the World Select Team at the 2004 Nikemarker Hoop Summit. He also featured in EuroBasket 2007, representing the senior national team. Italy finished ninth in the competition and in six games Bargnani averaged 12.7 points, 5.0 rebounds and 28.7 minutes per game.

Player profile

Andrea Bargnani's long-range shooting ability and ability to drive (dribble to the basket) make his game more akin to that of a small forward, however. He has drawn many comparisons to Germanmarker NBA player Dirk Nowitzki, mainly due to his ability to shoot from the perimeter, his mobility despite his size, and his ball-handling skills. Bargnani is also the first European player, sixth non-American player, and second player without U.S. college or high school experience to be drafted first overall.

NBA career statistics

(Correct as of 22 November 2009)


Regular season

2006–07
Toronto
65 2 25.1 .427 .373 .824 3.9 .8 .5 .8 11.6
2007–08
Toronto
78 53 23.9 .386 .345 .840 3.7 1.1 .3 .5 10.2
2008–09
Toronto
78 59 31.4 .450 .409 .831 5.3 1.2 .4 1.2 15.4
2009–10
Toronto
14 14 33.9 .481 .419 .894 6.6 1.1 .4 1.2 17.9
Career
235 128 27.3 .428 .380 .837 4.5 1.1 .4 .9 12.7

Playoffs

2006–07
Toronto
6 3 30.2 .478 .412 .789 4.0 1.0 .8 .5 11.0
2007–08
Toronto
5 5 20.8 .333 .250 1.000 1.4 .4 .8 .6 6.4
Career
11 8 25.9 .412 .333 .810 2.8 .7 .8 .6 8.9

Awards and honours



Notes

External links




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