One of the most polarizing moves of the off-season made by one of the most polarizing franchises in the NBA was when the New York Knicks completed a trade with the Toronto Raptors that sent out Steve Novak and a senior citizen (Marcus Camby) in exchange for former number-one overall pick, big man Andrea Bargnani.
When the move was initially made, there were a lot of mixed reactions. Some people believed that Bargs could help open up the Knicks offense a little more while detractors contended that Bargnani would be too much of a problem on defense for a Knicks team that was already toeing a fine line on that end of the floor. Through the start of the 2013-14 season, both beliefs have been correct to a certain degree.
Playing 26.3 minutes per night in New York, Bargnani has been more than solid offensively as he’s averaging 15.1 points per game while shooting 51 percent from the field and 41.9 percent from three. He’s looked to put his recent struggles far behind him with this new team. However, he also hasn’t escaped his defensive shortcomings.
Bargnani has been consistently bad for the Knicks defensively. He’s been okay in one-on-one, isolation situations, but has been abysmal otherwise. More importantly, the Knicks have been miles better defensively with Bargnani on the bench and, despite his solid individual numbers, their offense has been the same way.
With the big man in on the floor, the Knicks are averaging 101 points per 100 possessions while surrendering 114 points per 100 possessions. In stark contrast, the Knicks have been putting up 105.4 points per 100 possessions and allowing 105.6 points per 100 possessions without him on the floor.
Bargnani has simply been a detriment to this Knicks team. His individual numbers are a bit misleading as they don’t factor in how he clogs up the offense a bit and how bad of a team defender that he is in terms of positioning, rotations and all of that madness. I’m not sure what the solution to Bargnani on the Knicks is going forward, but I feel that it’s fair to say that the experiment of him being one of their core guys is not going as planned.