By most measures, Andrea Bargnani's season with the Knicks last year was a forgettable one.
New York’s offense was 6.8 points better (per 100 possessions) when Bargnani was on the bench. On defense, the Knicks allowed one fewer point per 100 possessions when Bargnani was off the court.
And then there’s this: The Knicks went 15-27 before Bargnani went down with an elbow injury and finished the season 21-18 after he got hurt.
It's unfair to put that all on Bargnani, but it doesn't reflect well on the former No. 1 overall pick.
"He just never seemed to be a good fit," one NBA scout said of Bargnani last season.
But when viewed through the prism of individual statistics, Bargnani’s 2013-14 season doesn’t seem so terrible. He averaged 13.3 points and 5.3 rebounds per game, numbers the Knicks probably would have signed up for when they acquired Bargnani last summer.
The bigger issue last season for Bargnani was that he never fit well on the floor with Carmelo Anthony. The Knicks hoped Bargnani could be a strong secondary scoring option. That didn’t happen.
New York outscored teams by 3.5 points per 100 possessions when Anthony was on the court without Bargnani. But when Anthony and Bargnani shared the floor, the Knicks were outscored by 3.9 points per 100 possessions.
Maybe that was one reason, along with his salary, that Bargnani was deemed expendable earlier this summer by the Knicks. The Knicks’ hierarchy tried to ship Bargnani out, along with one of their guards, in an effort to shed his $11.5 million salary and free up some money for then-free agent Pau Gasol, sources say.
Either New York couldn’t find an amenable trade partner or couldn't construct a deal to its liking because Bargnani is still a Knick and Gasol is with the Chicago Bulls.
New York Knicks
It is unclear if Bargnani is still on the trading block.
Phil Jackson said last week he thinks Bargnani will “surprise” some people this season. He also called the seven-footer “overlooked.”
“We think he's going to really do well in the kind of system we have,” Jackson said in an interview on MSG Network. “We've got a couple guards he likes to play with in Jose [Calderon] and Pablo [Prigioni] because he's played with them before in situations. I think he's going to be a surprise and I think he's going to be a pleasant one for our fans.”
Some see Jackson and Derek Fisher's triangle offense as a panacea for Bargnani. If he can knock down the open shots produced by the triangle, the theory goes, maybe Bargnani can have a successful run in his second season in New York?
(That theory ignores that Bargnani isn't a strong passer and doesn't move well -- two essential skills in the triangle.)
Offense, though, hasn't been Bargnani's biggest issue over eight years in the league. Defense and rebounding have also held him back -- maybe to a larger degree than any drawbacks he has on the offensive end.
So Fisher and the Knicks will have to figure out not only how to get Bargnani open looks on offense but also how to overcome his porous perimeter defense and spotty rebounding.
And, oh yeah, they’ll also have to find a way to incorporate him on offense without hindering Carmelo.
Is that possible? Sure. Anything's possible. But, based on last season, it doesn't seem all that likely.
Question: Do you agree with Jackson when it comes to Bargnani? Do you think Bargnani can be a “surprise” for the Knicks this season? Or should they look to trade him?
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