When the Toronto Raptors selected Andrea Bargnani with the first overall pick in the 2006 draft, they were taking a risk. While all potential draftees are, in theory, risks, Bargnani was considered a dicey project. The potential fruits of the project provided the Raptors sufficient justification, however.
He stood 7-foot tall, and possessed stellar, Dirk Nowitzki– esque quickness, ball handling and shooting stroke for his size. Sure, he wasn’t incredibly strong. He’d never be a power player nor a feared rim protector, but there was no denying his potential. Bargnani would provide a match-up nightmare for even the burliest of NBA big-men.
But seven years into his pro-career, Bargnani’s potential has largely failed to materialize. Sure, he did average 21.4 points in 2010-11, but he’s played in just 66 games over the last two seasons. He averaged just 12.7 points on .399 shooting last season. He’ll flash flickers of brilliance from time to time, but Bargnani is far from the impact player he was projected to become.
The New York Knicks have several holes to fill. Their struggles in the postseason highlighted their dearth of frontcourt muscle. And with J.R. Smith potentially leaving town, they will need another reliable scorer.
Bargnani is tall, but he’s an inept rebounder and shot-blocker. And he can score, but he isn’t consistent.
Still, the Knicks decided to pull the trigger on a deal that sent Marcus Camby, Steve Novak and an assortment of draft picks to Toronto for the European.
It isn’t a horrible trade; in fact, it’s a good trade. The Knicks got better from this trade. Camby had been taking up space on the bench, and Novak is a one-dimensional player. The picks shouldn’t prove too costly, assuming the Knicks remain in contention for the next few years.
It wasn’t a game changer, however, as their crosstown rivals, the Brooklyn Nets, executed a week ago.
Bargnani won’t come to New York with the weight of an entire city steeped on his slim shoulders. He isn’t expected to single-handedly turn around a franchise.
He will asked to be a cog in the Carmelo Anthony machine. He will be asked to provide scoring in bunches and help space the floor.
Bargnani likely won’t be the piece that transforms the Knicks into a championship contender, but he does have potential, ripe to blossom — eventually.