The Raptors are on the verge of welcoming back Andera Bargnani to the line-up fairly soon. Which on the surface seems like a major bonus for the Raptors. Which it very well could be. That being said, this will be an important moment for this season in a season that doesn't offer many of those given the Raptors 13-26 record. The Raptors in the 13 games that Bargnani did play, were 6-7 and with 27 games left, it is not like his return is getting them into the NBA Playoffs even as bad as the Eastern Conference is. However, this is still important for a lot of reasons.
First one is likely the most obvious one. After his miraculous transformation under Dwane Casey people were throwing all kinds of praise the way of Andrea Bargnani. He was a legit All-Star player according to some people and should garner consideration for a trip to Orlando. Bargnani was in Orlando but it wasn't as anything more than a spectator. When Bargnani returns we will get to see if people that thought that were right or just drunk on Raptor Kool Aid. While no one will deny the 13 game stretch from Bargnani has been perhaps the best of his career. Not just because of his offensive numbers but the fact he was more aggressive on the other end of the floor. He seemed to fit well in the new defensive scheme of Dwane Casey. Really what we saw was the effort that we had not in seasons past.
So, does Andrea Bargnani return and just continue on his redemption season, for a guy that this off-season some fans, would not have minded seeing him traded and moved along. If we do than that is great and Raptors can feel very happy to have a legit piece to build around. If we don't than many will be quick to question if that was just a mirage at the beginning of the season. Even if we get the same Andrea Bargnani back this season, it has at least for me, called into question his durability and ability to recover from injuries. This is basically a calf strain here it is not like Bargnani has had to have any kind of procedure and needs to recover from that. The fact he re-injured that same calf is troublesome too. While most will say the long lay-off has been based on the Raptors having not much to play for and are not upset at the fact they have lost a lot of games with out him. That might me the case. Still you saw Amir Johnson bang a knee and sat one game and was right back in their fighting hard. Alvin Williams back in the day was that type of guy. Vince Carter wasn't that type of guy and would miss large amounts of time for even what seemed as a pretty minor injury. It sure seems to me that Andrea trends more to the Vince side of this equation than the Williams or Johnson side. You can say so what? He is the star player and both he and the Raptors are being cautious. Still, the guys in the looker room might not see it that way. Demar DeRozan takes a beating on a nightly basis but always pops back up and never seems to miss anytime. So do they believe Andrea is injured or hurt? Wait isn't that the same thing? If you are injured, you can't play and would not help your team by being out there and could damage yourself more in the process. If your hurt, but can still contribute without any risk to your long term career, or even maybe a minor one, you owe it to the guys in that room to be out there. There were a lot of reasons Vince Carer fizzled in Toronto but one of the biggest was he lost the respect of the guys in his locker room.
Will assume that Andrea has been injured and not just hurt, but still we have more to consider. This team is just 7-19 without Bargnani this season. Early on this team might not have been able to beat some D-League teams without him. However, over time and after some embarrassing losses, this team has found a way to be competitive and even win a few games without him. Demar DeRozan after struggling out of the gate as emerged to be the second best option on this team on offense and shown some consistency of late. Many guys have stepped up their game and as team this group has played hard and fought. When the time comes that Andrea Bargnani comes back will this continue? That becomes a big question. The Raptors have got contributions from throughout the line-up from Barbosa, Kleiza, James Johnson, Calderon even Aaron Gray. Will this team continue doing those things or will they take a collective sigh of relief that Bargnani is back. As an example of what I am talking about let's take Jose Calderon, who has in the time Bargnani has been out shown some of the most aggressive nature in terms of looking for his shot that we have seen in his career. Will it continue or does he revert back to the Jose Calderon that rarely would take his own shot and was more happy to defer to others. How will other people that have seen more shots than they normally would react to getting less of them all of the sudden? There is lots of things to consider.
Will everyone be glad to see Bargnani back in the fold. Obviously the answer is yes. Still if you think that this will just magically turn into the Raptors winning games all of the sudden it might not be that simple. If they can maintain how they have played and add Bargnani's offense to that mix a lot of these close games could start falling the other way. The trick is can they still maintain that effort. It isn't as easy as it seems. That is the great thing about basketball it is a great example of a group dynamic in action. Dwane Casey we at least know will crack the whip should some folks revert backwards, for the Raptors to actually benefit from Bargnani returning need both him and them to keep playing at the same level that he did and they have.