Toronto Raptors coach Dwane Casey believes it is only a matter of time before we see the old Andrea Bargnani again.
Bargnani is off to a slow start on the season, averaging 13 points per game in the team’s first three games — down from his 19.5 PPG average from a year ago.
But Casey, a guest on the Jeff Blair Show on Sportsnet 590 The Fan Monday, said Bargnani is still adjusting to his team’s new style of play on offence and will eventually be on the same page with new point guard Kyle Lowry.
“I think one thing Andrea is getting used to is a different system than he’s been used to. A different style of play,” Casey explained. “A more random style of play than he’s used to, so it’s a process so those two, the chemistry will get there.
“When Jose’s in the game we are more of a pick-and-roll team and it’s more of a predictable type of setting and Andrea is probably more used to that.”
Casey, who was an assistant in Dallas before taking over in Toronto, compared Bargnani’s adjustment to the growing pains that Dirk Nowitzki experienced when Jason Kidd joined the Mavericks.
“We went through the same process with Dirk in Dallas,” Casey said. “The first couple of years we ran the system he and Jason had to get used to each other. And again, that chemistry and that relationship on both ends of the floor grew.”
Casey is more concerned with his team’s play on their own end of the floor than their offensive challenges.
“I’m concerned about everyone clicking, and we did a good job last night, but we’ve got to get better defensively,” Casey said. “We gave up 52 points in the paint against Brooklyn (on Saturday night) and that’s the area I am concerned about.”
Early in the season, Casey mentioned that opponents are looking to take advantage of rookie Jonas Valanciunas’ inexperience.
“If you noticed in exhibition, and also the first three games, they are going right at the young fella,” Casey shared. “He’s trying to hold his own. He’s probably gone against the three strongest centres in the NBA — (Indiana Pacers’ Roy) Hibbert, (Brooklyn Nets’ Brook) Lopez and (Sunday) night (Minnesota Timberwolves’ Nikola) Pekovic — and so they are trying to take advantage of him.”
Against Brooklyn in Saturday night’s loss to the Nets, Valanciunas picked up two quick fouls and played limited minutes the rest of the way. The Raptors coach explained that it was all part of his learning curve.
“He’s learning as he goes along. He’s been thrown in the fire but he has to learn to not get those ticky-tack type of fouls,” he said. “They are throwing their body into him and initiating the contact but he’s getting the call because the officials are getting used to him and he’s getting used to the style of play in the NBA. It’s a tough process to go through.”
The Raptors kick off their season by playing 15 games in 22 days including a visit to Oklahoma City on Wednesday and Dallas on Thursday. Casey has tried to tell his team not to look too far ahead.
“We’ve got to weather the storm through this 15 (games) out of 22 (days),” he said. “It’s a process of taking five games at a time and attacking them in that way because if you try to look at 15 out of 22 it’s daunting.”
On the bright side he believes that the difficult stretch to start the season will help his team bond.
“We don’t want to do that but by the end of this stretch, we should be clicking on both ends of the floor.”