“He’s growing, he’s really doing a good job for us,” Casey tells HOOPSWORLD. “Dirk is more of a veteran, experienced player now. In the process, Andrea’s a few years behind but a very talented young man, a very willing student. He’s been a sponge. I spent a lot of time with him, did dinner with him and talked to him about his responsibility. He’s taken everything in and going with it. He’s improved, he’s taken a step defensively up and this is what he needs to do.”
“Dwane has already had a significant impact on Andrea, first and foremost just by being able to communicate that experience with a guy with similar skill set,” says Raptors GM Bryan Colangelo. “I don’t like to make the comparison to Dirk, and I don’t think Andrea likes to be compared, but at the end of the day it is a similar skill set, especially the size to skill ratio that they display. With regard to Dirk and his improved defensive performance and his ability to play a key roll at the championship last year, not to mention what you see in Dwane’s experience has been able, I think it’s been impressive to see his ability to communicate with Andrea and in short, in a short window so far, we’ve had three or four weeks together, you see it every day in practice, every possession of every game. Andrea’s focused more on the defensive end, he’s getting out, he’s showing hard, he’s gotten out and taken a few charges, you never would’ve seen that out of him. I think that’s also a testament to Dwane’s statement early on to this group that if you don’t do what’s asked you probably will be sitting down here next to me, but if you want to be on the floor, you’ve got to do your part in what we’re trying to accomplish defensively as a team. I think that accountability is the thing that has really been evident in not only Andrea’s buy-in but I think everybody’s buy-in.”
Obviously any team run by Casey is sure to live and die by its defensive mentality. Though the team is sure to improve tenfold on that end of the floor with a man like that in charge, it should be well-noted that Bargnani has been stepping his game up on all fronts, embracing his path of finally evolving into the all-around star Raptors' brass is so confident he can become, and that all of the team's fans still crave him to be.