Imagine for a minute that you’re a basketball player who gets traded from a cellar dweller in favor of joining a team that won 54 games in their previous season but those trends are reversed after the transaction takes place. This scenario gives us a good idea of what it’s like to be Andrea Bargnani as he has had the misfortune of having this exact situation happen to him after the New York Knicks acquired him in a trade from the Toronto Raptors.
The Raptors won just 34 games last season but find themselves in first place in the Atlantic Division Standings with 24 wins already this season before All-Star Weekend. On the flip side, the Knicks went from finishing first in the Atlantic Division to currently sitting eight games below .500, and Bargnani just so happens to represent the team’s biggest offseason acquisition.
There are always a multitude of variables that explain why some teams are more successful than others, but it can’t be a coincidence that Bargnani has been a member of bad teams nearly his entire career. Since joining the NBA in 2006, Bargnani’s teams reached the playoffs in his first two seasons but he hasn’t been back at all.
Saying the Knicks have struggled this season would be a gross overstatement, but they are currently on a four game winning streak. Coincidentally, Bargnani suffered torn ligaments in his elbow four games ago, and given his history in the league his injury probably greatly improved the Knicks’ playoff chances.
I always thought Bargnani received unfair criticism from Raptors fans, but he has proven in his time with the Knicks that his presence on the court negatively impacts the loss column for the team. Bargnani would like to return this season, but the Knicks are better off without him on the floor and playing with a smaller lineup.