When the Toronto Raptors made Andrea Bargnani the first pick of the 2006 NBA Draft, they were hoping to add a franchise player to the one they already had on their roster.
However, the departure of Chris Bosh to the Miami Heat thrust Bargnani into the position of having to step up and lead the Raptors' franchise.
So far, head coach Jay Triano is pleased with the improvements in the seven footer's verbal leadership.
"He's come out of his shell a little bit and probably speaks more this year than he did in the past," Triano said before Friday's contest against the Detroit Pistons.
On the court, Bargnani is on pace for his best offensive season, currently averaging over 21 points per game. He has also chipped in with just under six rebounds per contest.
Pleased with his progress thus far, Bargnani believes there is a lot more growth yet to happen in his game this season, and beyond.
"I'm happy with my performance but I think I can do much better and I want to do better," said Bargnani. "I'll keep practicing and I'll work hard, but I'm happy."
Triano is also encouraged by the changes in Bargnani's game, but feels that even more versatility would make him a better weapon in the Raptors' attack. Something the head coach has seen glimpses of in crunch time but would like to see more often.
"He's made slight progress in his ability to score in different ways and he's shooting the three well," said Triano. "I still need to have him, if we're going to be successful, be a better rebounder and a better defender. He's proven he can do it because he does it in the fourth quarter."