Bargnani Injury Might Be Addition By Subtraction For Knicks

Andrea Bargnani has been a liability for the Knicks this season. (Garrett W. Ellwood/NBAE/Getty Images)

Andrea Bargnani has been a liability for the Knicks this season. (Garrett W. Ellwood/NBAE/Getty Images)

HANG TIME NEW JERSEY — Andrea Bargnani‘s injury – he’s out “indefinitely” with a torn ligament in his left elbow – may seem like more bad news for the New York Knicks. But it’s probably the opposite.

Now, I’m not wishing injury on anybody and I hope Bargnani has a full and timely recovery. But I am here to point out that the Knicks are better off without him. This injury may have just made Mike Woodson‘s job easier.

Simply, the Knicks have been better on both ends of the floor with Bargnani on the bench. They’ve been 2.3 points per 100 possessions better offensively and 2.2 points per 100 possessions better defensively.

The defensive issues are obvious. Get Bargnani moving and he might get turned around. He might switch when he’s supposed to stay home or stay home when he’s supposed to switch (a problem that seems to be contagious on these Knicks).

Offensively, Bargnani seems like a good player and he ranks 10th in mid-range field goal percentage (among those with at least 100 attempts). But overall, he’s a below average shooter, with an effective field goal percentage of just 47.2 percent, well below the league average of 49.7 percent. And his free throw rate (20 attempts per every 100 shots from the field) is poor for a big man.

He’s big, but plays small and doesn’t do it very well. The Knicks have a lot of problems, but you can start with the guy who’s a liability on both ends of the floor, is a square peg in a system that worked pretty well last season, and has somehow played the second-most minutes on the team.

With Bargnani and Carmelo Anthony on the floor together, the Knicks have been bad. With only Anthony on the floor, they’ve been good. And with only Bargnani on the floor (in a pretty small sample size), they’ve been awful.

Knicks efficiency with Anthony and/or Bargnani on the floor

On floor MIN OffRtg DefRtg NetRtg +/-
Anthony + Bargnani 1,061 102.5 106.4 -3.9 -44
Only Anthony 467 106.4 100.9 +5.6 +26
Only Bargnani 196 91.6 110.2 -18.7 -78

OffRtg = Points scored per 100 possessions
DefRtg = Points allowed per 100 possessions
NetRtg = Point differential per 100 possessions

It’s pretty simple. If Bargnani is on the floor with both Anthony and Tyson Chandler (or Kenyon Martin), it hurts the Knicks’ spacing offensively and requires either Anthony or Bargnani to guard the opposing small forward on defense. And if Bargnani and Anthony are out there without Chandler (or Martin), oh my gosh, are they terrible defensively.

It’s not clear on what team Bargnani would be a good fit, but it certainly isn’t this one. And the Knicks gave genius Masai Ujiri three draft picks for the right to pay Bargnani $23 million over the next two seasons. It looked like an awful trade at the time (subtraction by addition) and there’s been no need to reevaluate it.

Now, Woodson is partially to blame for giving Bargnani more minutes than anybody but Anthony, but consider the following…

1. Chandler is 31 years old and had missed an average of 19 games over the previous five seasons.

2. When Chandler broke his leg in the fourth game of the season, the only other bigs on the roster were Bargnani, Martin, Amare’ Stoudemire and Cole Aldrich.

3. At the time, both Martin and Stoudemire were limited to less than 20 minutes per game.

4. Bargnani and Stoudemire are two of the worst defensive big men of the last decade.

That, my friends, is bad roster building.

Now, without Bargnani, Woodson has no choice but to use Anthony exclusively at the four. And with Chandler at the five, they can put three guards out there with them, spread the floor offensively and be much quicker on defense.

The Knicks need Martin back from his sprained ankle to give them 12-15 minutes of Chandler relief. And they need a lot of guys (starting with Raymond Felton) to simply play better. But now we can at least see what they would have looked like had they not made one of the worst trades in recent memory.


  1. Mauro says:

    Im Italian and Im sorry to say but Bargnani is a disaster it was such a relief he didnt come to play for Italy this summer he just makes teams play awfully slow , doesnt catch any rebounds even tho is 2.13 and has no defensive attitude…yes he`s got some points in his hands but thats it really…:-( …yes the Knicks should sign Bynum so they would really complete the opera…:-)

  2. emevipeelad234 says:

    no hate for bargnani but 23M ? how many draft picks ?
    new york, maybe you can sign andrew bynum ? (new york i’m joking ok, that’s a joke. don’t do it)

  3. jdub455 says:

    yeah i agree with this. so poor defensively… dunno what the knicks were thinking… not a good complimentary player for melo at all…

  4. Bob M says:

    Well, the Bargs trade was ridiculous. Now, even Dolan believes he was had in that deal. Any way you slice it, the Knicks are in trouble. I don’t believe that Melo is going to get all Durrant and score 50 a game. The bench is injured all the time. JR is JR. A playoff run with the talented froncourt that has the injury history means one and done.
    To repeat my 2 month long mantra, trade Melo. He’s going to walk and the Knicks will get nothing. They may be able to dump Bargs in the deal. Maybe, an unprotected 1st rounder, maybe some young hungry players, and a mild level star will make the Knicks a contender in the future. This team is just in a bad position and to get some players that are available to play and develop a winning chemistry.

  5. Kal says:

    Raptors fans everywhere will drink to that, John Schumann!

    And now it seems Knicks fans, too…

    And now for a funny story about what General Managers and scientific researchers think they know… Colangelo when he drafted Bargnani, claimed what most impressed him was a psychology test they gave him in which he scored high for mental toughness… and that this signified he would bounce back from adversity.

    But if you ask me from what I observe on the court, when he was in T.O. and in NYK, mental toughness is exactly what he lacks as a player.

  6. mee(a)t says:

    Whenever I see bargnani play…its like he wanders aimlessly hoping to get open and when he gets the ball, instant pull up… Does he do this every game?

  7. Knicks should surround there team with defensive jagganorts if there going to iso melo all the time! No ball movement, slow motion ball movement staying on 1 side of court! ugly basketball. mwp and bargnani terrible additions. can’t rely on aging chandler and inconsistant shumpart! Felton is no starting pg. need to admit there mistakes get rid of lackluster players like bargnani and get young enthusiastic players and build up the team! stop getting named players past there prime who struggle injury and cardio wise to stay on floor!!

  8. ballbagnannyboy sux!! never a good shooter!

  9. You can’t look at those stats as if they were good. The Knicks were/are injured all the time, plus they didn’t have any rotation, plus Woodson offence is just “Yo man, just shoot”.

  10. dustydreamnz says:

    He looks like he’s going to cry when something goes wrong like Howard and LBJ.

  11. steppx says:

    WHYYYYYYYYYYYYYYYYYYYYYYYYY did they trade for him? I watched him with the raptors. Why do you think the FIRST thing ujiri did was try to unload Bargs….and he would have given him away, frankly. I know the raps, and i follow them. Ujiri would have given away for a pack of smokes. Watching bargnani last season with toronto was like watching a slow motion train wreck. Firstly, he rarely showed much effort. Second, as pointed out above, he really isnt a very good shooter. I dont know where that rep came from, but he’s not a good shooter. The D League has five guys, RIGHT NOW, who can play better and certainly shoot better. He cant guard my grandmother and she uses a walker. He is as bad an NBA player as Ive ever seen. Hell, the knicks would be better off playing Chris Smith.