How Andrea Bargnani Can Thrive with NY Knicks in 2013-14
But Bargnani was due for a change of scenery, after playing seven years for a team that hasn't exactly been relevant.
Now healthy and surrounded by talent and veterans, Bargnani is in much better position to flourish. If the Knicks can find a way to exploit his offensive strengths, he can be a significant upgrade and addition to the rotation.
Use his Specialty and Strengths
While Bargnani clearly has his flaws, his strengths could be used in New York's lineup. At 7'0'', he gives the Knicks an offensive-oriented frontcourt scorer who doesn't require a setup man. Unlike Tyson Chandler, who needs a lob or dump pass at the rim in order to contribute points, Bargnani can generate offense from all over the floor.
But his core strength, and the one the Knicks will need to exploit, is his ability to spread the floor and pull big men away from the rim.
Bargnani may not have put up the shooting numbers to suggest it's a speciality, but given his size and shot-making ability, he's an absolute threat as a perimeter scorer. And with Chandler, Kenyon Martin and Amar'e Stoudemire as the other three bigs in the lineup, Bargnani gives the offense a completely different look.
Here's an example of where Bargnani could make the Knicks a tougher team to defend.
Unlike Chandler, Bargnani is actually a more versatile pick-and-roller. He can slip to the hole after the screen or pop out for a jumper.
Had Chandler been Bargnani in the play below, Hibbert would've either had to switch or chase him out to the perimeter. The result would either be an open three-point look for Bargnani or an open lane for 'Melo to attack.
Instead, Carmelo Anthony is forced into a contested, off-balance pull-up jumper.
As a supporting cast member, Bargnani can add a new dimension of offense to the lineup. He allows the Knicks to mix it up a little bit and keep the defense on their toes.
And anytime the Knicks can pull a guy like Roy Hibbert away from the rim, better spacing for featured scorers is usually a result.
From Featured Scorer to Supporting Cast Member
In Toronto, Bargnani never had a guy like Anthony to play off. Bargnani would take a number of tough shots each night, considering he was a top focus of opposing defenses.
If there's one thing the Knicks do well, it's creating open looks. They finished tied for the league lead in three-point attempts last year, not necessarily because the team is filled with shooters, but because uncontested jumpers were regularly available.
In New York, Bargnani won't have to create nearly as much for himself offensively as he's had to in the past. He's a guy the Knicks should look to play alongside some of their better shot-creators, like Anthony, J.R. Smith and Raymond Felton.
With his size and touch, Bargnani is a tough matchup in the two-man game.
Bargnani's skill set is designed to complement better scorers. You don't want to rely on him as a top-two option, the way the Raptors have.
But in a supporting role, Bargnani should be able to give the Knicks an extra offensive weapon they didn't previously have.
An Extra Weapon, Shot-Maker
With Amar'e Stoudemire eating up roughly $20 million per year, the Knicks are in a position where they're forced to use J.R. Smith as a No.2 scoring option. And that's just not ideal for a team with championship aspirations.
The Knicks were able to package two expendable and one-dimensional players (and a future draft pick) for a guy who averaged 21 points per game in 2011. Injuries limited him over the past two seasons, but all indications are that Bargnani is 100 percent.
Take a look at Bargnani's shot chart (via Vorped.com) from his strong 2011 campaign, in which he played 66 games. It shows he's a threat to score from practically every spot on the floor. Unlike other Knick reserves, Bargnani is essentially in scoring position wherever he catches the ball.
The Knicks needed another weapon, particularly with Smith's inconsistency and offseason knee surgery. And without many assets or cap room, they were able to land a guy who can simply put the ball in the hole.
It wouldn't be a bad idea to play Bargnani next to Chandler. It's a position that will give him a size and physical advantage, particularly in the post, where he's a very capable scorer.
As a 4 in the post, Bargnani actually gives New York an extra mismatch.
Below, the Raptors isolate him down low, which allows for excellent spacing around him.
Given the mismatch he presents, Bargnani commands the double team, and it opens up a lane and scoring opportunity for a teammate.
Once DeMar DeRozan sees his man double down, he cuts down the middle, and Bargnani is able to find him.
There are a number of ways the Knicks can use Bargnani to maximize his strengths within the offense. And by utilizing him in the pick-and-pop, isolating him in the post and allowing him to complement the Knicks' better scorers, the team will get its best bang for the buck.
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