Jonas Valanciunas is going to make or break Andrea Bargnani with the Toronto Raptors. Some have called Jonas the Anti-Bargnani as a way to explain to Raptors fans that this guy was not going to be anything like him. Also to justify a pick of Jonas for a fan base that just saw the Raptors drafting another Euro.
If you have watched Jonas in these 3 games it is very clear that he is nothing like Andrea Bargnani. He is opposite in a lot of ways. His compete level is off the charts. After having no rebounds in his debut he has scrapped and got on the boards as advertised. He has a far more advanced post game than Bargnani did when he arrived.
Amidst all of this Jonas hype we have seen Bargnani wilt back into his former self prior to the surprising improvement that had some feeling he had turned a corner. Watching his some time lackadaisical style next to Jonas’ hustle can be quite the contrast.
Andrea Bargnani has someone that has taken away his spotlight for the short term with Jonas. Not that Andrea is much for being in the spotlight. However as this contrast of styles continues to evolve and we see Jonas perhaps now crack the starting line-up what will this do to Andrea. It may and could bring that spotlight back to him for all of his short comings as player.
Bargnani left last night’s game with a bruised calf, that same one he strained last year. He did not bother to hang around to speak with the media. You wonder given his history if we will see him before the season starts now with this minor injury. Jonas on the other hand was chomping at the bit to return from his minor calf strain. If left to him likely would have come back sooner than he did.
While there are obvious positives with having the pair on the floor together you wonder if that contrast of styles will be a positive or negative for Bargnani. Will he embrace the things that his new fellow 7 footer brings to the table? Will we see a Bargnani that hustles and brings it on defense and on the glass?
It remains to be seen. Early signs suggest something different as Bargnani has struggled in the pre-season. Even with the things he does best like shooting and scoring. Jonas while his stock is on the rise it is Bargnani’s that seems in a free fall back to the guy that many Raptor fans questioned.
Do we reach a point that Andrea Bargnani becomes expendable if an Ed Davis were to show signs of turning the corner and being a player? Who knows really but the major concern of the pre-season is Bargnani.
Jonas may force Bargnani to be more aggressive and work harder or fade back into the guy that seems to lack effort and enthusiasm at times. It does lay inside Bargnani somewhere and we got see it last season. He is capable of more the difference now is we know he is and expects him to be that. Does he rise to that challenge with Jonas as the catalyst or motivation to do so? Or does he just go back to being the Bargnani he was for the first five seasons of his NBA Career?
Time will tell.