Jan 29, 2011; Minneapolis, MN, USA; Toronto Raptors center Andrea Bargnani (7) looks on in the second half at Target Center. The Timberwolvs won 103-87. Mandatory Credit: Jesse Johnson-US PRESSWIRE

Is Andrea Bargnani Running On Borrowed Time With The Toronto Raptors?

It’s do or die for “Il Mago” in 2012/13.

If General Manager Brian Colangelo doesn’t see things that way, he very well should.

In his first three outings of this ongoing preseason, Andrea Bargnani has been very lackadaisical in his effort, putting up  terrible numbers in the process.

Including the Raptors opener against Real Madrid and the teams last 2 games against the Detroit Pistons, Andrea has gone 10 for 33 from the field and 8 for 15 from the charity stripe. In over 46 minutes of action against Detroit those two games, he grabbed just 4 rebounds in total.

This may come off as an overreaction of course. It’s just the preseason. These games don’t matter.

Lest we forget, Andrea missed a good portion of the 2011/12 season. He played in just 31 games due to a calf injury.

During the first half of the season, Bargnani averaged 23.5 points a game on 47.6% shooting. When he returned, his numbers dipped to just 16.6 points on 39% from the floor.

“Before the injury, I was among the top (scorers). That’s where I need to be and I know I can be there. Now I have to come back next year and do it. (Toronto Sun)

It’s entirely possible that Andrea still isn’t 100% and fully recovered from his injured calf. The preseason is designed to allow players to not only prepare themselves emotionally for a 82 game season, but to help recoup and recover from any withstanding injuries or just plain old not being in shape.

I believe where this animosity is coming from is years of holding out for the former #1 overall pick to transition from an above-average NBA player (if he’s even that) to a perennial all-star whose looked upon as one of the greatest big men in the league today.

I don’t think “Il Mago” can ever reach that milestone.

Scorers are a dime a dozen in the National Basketball Association. Back in 2005-06, even the seldom thought of Mike James put up 20.3 points a game for the Raptors.

The funny thing is that James (a 6’2 point guard) has a career average of 2.3 rebounds, which is just 2.5 boards less than Bargnani’s (a 7 foot center) 4.9.

Andrea has gotten by these past 7 years on his scoring ability. Being as tall as he is with the athleticism to drive to the paint from the perimeter makes Brian Colangelo see a star-quality and/or potential in him that is not at all there.

The problem with potential is that someday, you’re supposed to live up to it.

Only a handful of players around the league can do what Bargnani does at his size on the offensive end. The only issue is that he doesn’t do it well enough to make himself overly special or important.

He can’t rebound, he can’t defend stronger players down low, he can’t block shots at a decent enough rate (0.5 for his career) and he doesn’t have the leadership intangibles to motivate those around him.

So why is he still here?

When is enough……enough?

It’s put up or shut up time for Andrea Bargnani. The Raptors front-office has brought in a bunch of new pieces this offseason (Kyle Lowry, Jonas Valanciunas, Landry Fields, John Lucas III, Terrence Ross) to help catapult this franchise to greater heights in the Eastern Conference.

Ultimately, the success of the Toronto Raptors will depend on whether Andrea can flip the switch and become that star everyone in the city wants (and prays) he can be. Perhaps a permanent move to the power forward position (with Jonas Valanciunas as the center of the future) will be the spark he needs to turn around his career and be effective in more areas of the game.

Who knows.

Bargnani is running out of excuses, and Raptors fans are running out of patience.

Christopher Walder is a sports blogger and lead editor for Sir Charles in Charge. You may follow him on Twitter @WalderSports

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