Andrea Bargnani needed a change of scenery after an injury-riddled last two seasons with the Toronto Raptors (66 total games played), and that’s just what the 2006 No. 1 overall pick got with an offseason trade to the New York Knicks. He started the season slowly, scoring in double figures just once in the first four games while playing less than 25 minutes in each game, but he moved to center in place of an injured Tyson Chandler (leg) Friday night against the Charlotte Bobcats and had 25 points (11-for-25 from the floor; 3-for-9 from three-point range), eight rebounds, five blocked shots and three assists in just under 35 minutes of action.
Chandler is expected to be out for 4-6 weeks, and the Knicks appear ready to use Bargnani as their starting center for the foreseeable future. Can fantasy basketball owners expect him to be a consistent force going forward?
Prior to last season, when he averaged 12.7 points per game, Bargnani averaged at least 15 points per game in four straight seasons (2008-2009 through 2011-2012), with his career-best coming in 2010-2011 (21.4 points) over 66 games played. From a fantasy perspective he has never been a great across the board contributor, with career averages of 4.8 rebounds, 1.3 assists, 0.9 blocks and 0.4 steals per game, so his value rests almost completely on his ability to score.
Better health should help Bargnani improve on last season’s poor shooting percentages (less than 40 percent from the floor, 30.9 percent on three-pointers), and his free-throw percentage (84.4 last season, 82.5 for his career) could actually boost his value some in leagues that use that category. But with increased playing time comes increased risk for injury, so Bargnani’s durability will be a lingering concern while Chandler is sidelined.
Bargnani has become a popular waiver wire addition this week, and his performance Friday night stands to boost his ownership percentage significantly, but he is still available in close to half of Yahoo! leagues right now. Owners that are willing to cross their fingers he’ll continue to see a lot of playing time over the next month-plus can consider adding him, and there’s a decent chance he sustains solid value all season if he can stay healthy.
Brad Berreman is a contributing writer at Rant Sports.com. Follow him on Twitter @bradberreman24.