The spoon feeding of Andrea Bargnani has come to an end.

The career coddling has stopped and Bargnani, when healthy, is suddenly a different player in Year Six of the great experiment, with a newfound body language that speaks confidence and dominance. You can see him taking control when he didn't care or didn't know how to take control before. You can see his eyes so alive, so active — the blank stare with mouth wide open, his personal deer in the headlights look from the early days, is gone. You could see his anger, almost pulling his own hair out late Thursday night, when the calf injury that had sat him down for eight games returned against the Utah Jazz.

And you could see something that was never evident before. Emotion. Bargnani is engaged in the game, passionate enough to make a difference: It makes you believe in Bargnani in a way that never seemed very believable before.

The player who was drafted to be a star and a difference maker finally, when healthy, is able to make a difference.

The change comes after years of consternation and doubt about who Bargnani would be and what he would eventually become. It was thought by some that he would be the next Dirk Nowitzki. But really, he is his own invention, and a mismatch for any team trying to figure out what to do with him. He scored 36 points in Phoenix the other night for an unusual Raptors road win and was on his way to another 30-plus game the following night in Salt Lake City had his calf injury not come back.

That would have been four 30-point games of his past eight: It isn't just a coincidence that the Raptors have a somewhat stunning, almost playoff-ready record of 6-7 in games in which Bargnani has started. When he hasn't played, they haven't won. That makes this his team in a way it has never been his team — much as he wanted it to be last year — before.