Known as Il Mago, or the Magician, Andrea Bargnani is a professional Italian basketball player who plays as a small forward. Standing tall at 7 feet, Bargnani began his playing career in 2002-03 with Stella Azzurra Roma, in Italy, in the country’s Serie B2 division. After 23 games, where he averaged 13.2 points per game with 4.5 rebounds, Bargnani moved to Benetton Treviso in the Lega A, or the top division in Italy.
Bargnani had a 4.9 points per game average in the first season with 2.0 rebounds per game after just 10 innings. He also played in the Euroleague, 8 times, and had a 2.4 points per game average to show for his exploits. The following year, Bargnani fared much better at the top level and had a 12.2 points per game average with 5.4 rebounds although his Euroleague performance was still quite similar.
The following season, things just became better as Bargnani raised his average to 15.3 points per game with 7.1 rebounds and 1.7 blocks. He had a .528 shooting percentage from the field along with his .434 shooting from behind the arc. Bargnani was named as the Euroleague Rising Star and also the Top European Young Player of the Year for the year 2005-06.
In 2006, Bargnani decided to move to the NBA and entered the 2006 NBA Draft. The 21-year old was picked at first overall, by the Toronto Raptors. Becoming the fourth Italian player ever to play in the NBA, Bargnani made his debut against the New Jersey Nets and went on to play 65 games for the Raptors, with just 2 starts. He played 25.1 minutes per game while averaging a decent 11.6 points per game. With 3.9 rebounds, Bargnani ensured that being picked first was not a wrong decision that the Raptors had made.
Bargnani was also picked as the NBA Eastern Conference Rookie of the Month for January 2007. The following month, he won the award again, becoming just the third Raptor ever to win the award twice in a row, after Vince Carter and Damon Stoudamire. Bargnani missed almost a month and a half of action because of an appendectomy that he underwent. Bargnani was quite popular with the fans especially after helping the Raptors to their first off-season in five years. Bargnani finished second in the Rookie of the Year race.
The following season, Bargnani played all but 4 games of the regular season and started 51 games more than his rookie season. Although his playing time dipped a little, his free throw percentage was at a career-high .840 percent. Bargnani got a contract extension and that meant that he would be guaranteed an NBA career till 2008-09 while he had an option to opt for the 2009-10 season.