Former No. 1 overall pick Andrea Bargnani had a lot of success overseas before playing in the NBA. That’s a big reason why the Toronto Raptors decided to select him first in the NBA draft.
The 2006 NBA draft did not feature many star athletes. Only a handful of players who were selected in that draft are still playing in the league today. Bargnani did not pan out to be the star player that some hoped he would be.
Andrea Bargnani playing at a high level overseas
Bargnani, a native of Italy, began his professional basketball career during the 2002-03 season with Stella Azzurra Roma in the Italian Serie B2. In his first professional season, he averaged 13.2 points and 4.5 rebounds per game playing in 23 games. After his first season, he signed with Benetton Treviso for the following season. The young seven-foot big man played well overseas and was a two-time Italian Cup Winner in 2004 and 2005.
In 2006 he was a part of a team that won the Italian League championship and was named one of the best players under 22 in the Italian League. Bargnani was also named the EuroLeague Rising Star for the 2005-06 season. He achieved a lot of success at a young age playing overseas.
Bargnani was very versatile as a big man. Not only could he play in the post, but he can play on the perimeter too. He could shoot from three made him a threat on offense in multiple ways. With him playing with older players really helped improved his game a lot. Bargnani had the opportunity to play against the Raptors while he was overseas. The Raptors saw something in him then and decided to make him their top choice in the draft.
Why the Toronto Raptors selected Bargnani with the No. 1 pick
The 2006 NBA draft wasn’t filled with high prospects like other drafts were, but the Raptors believed that Bargnani could be a good long-term choice. The Raptors selected him over LaMarcus Aldridge, who was the No. 2 pick and his currently playing in the NBA. Bryan Colangelo, who was the general manager of the Raptors at the time, believed that Bargnani could help turn around a team that struggled in previous years.
The Raptors’ organization was high on overseas talent, and they already had a chance to see Bargnani play when he was younger. How could a team pass up on a seven-footer that could from long range? That’s something the NBA was not used to during that time, and Bargnani was set to have a big NBA career.
How did Bargnani pan out in the NBA?
Bargnani never reached that star-level playing in the NBA, but he did have a few good seasons. During his rookie year, he averaged 11.6 points and 3.9 rebounds per game and was named to the All-Rookie First Team. He spent his first seven seasons playing in Toronto and made the playoffs twice during that time. His best season came during the 2009-10 season, where he started in all 80 games and averaged 21.4 points per game.
Bargnani never made an All-Star team or received any postseason awards after his rookie season. He spent his final three years playing for the New York Knicks and the Brooklyn Nets in the league. Bargnani finished his NBA career averaging 14.3 points and 4.6 rebounds. Though he was a big name overseas, he was just another player in the NBA.