It was July 10, 2013 that reigning executive of the year/mastermind, Masai Ujiri, essentially fleeced Glen Grunwald and the New York Knicks front office for Andrea Bargnani and his onerous near-$12M contract for two draft picks, one being a 2016 first rounder and the other a 2017 second rounder. The first thing I said to myself when I woke up on the morning of the trade was “this is so Knicks.” But, for the lack of a better cliche, it was what it was. Everyone had to deal with the trade no matter what, but it was something that was pretty hard to swallow — the Knicks had given up future talent for an injury-prone inefficient big man the Raptors were considering buying out.
The trade posed a barrage of questions, one of the questions being “why the hell did this trade happen?” and a chock full of other skepticism. It was one hell of a ride (in the worst way possible).
The day Bargnani was acquired, supporters of the trade (I still have no idea why there were people that supported the deal) was considered a stretch-four/stretch-five that can space the floor a whole lot with his “deadly marksmanship.” While being a floor spacer and stretch-four/stretch-five was true, because his sole purpose has always been that, it certainly didn’t translate on the court, just like his previous three seasons. Even before the 2013-14 season, I couldn’t believe how many people still believed in the floor spacing/demigod three point shooter myth.
In 42 games, Bargs averaged 13.3 points on 44% shooting, and shot an egregious 27% from three, along with a 103 ORtg. He posted 0.8 OWS, .058 WS/48 and a 14.5 PER, as well as a .472 eFG%. Yuck.
Hey, Bargs apologists, you realize that, in order to play as a stretch four/five, you need to make perimeter jump shots. And if you don’t, you’re deemed as useless, which, in this case, he was. Shooting a combined 29% from three in your last three seasons is definitely not something to be proud of as that kind of player. If Steve Novak stayed, that would’ve been much better.
That was the heftiest risk with Bargs when he came to New York. People discounted his repulsive three point shooting numbers from his previous two seasons (29% and 30%, respectively), while citing Bargs’s best seasons in 2009-10 and 2010-11 because of his PPG averages. This meant that Woodson’s genius plan of putting Melo at the 4 the season before was going to be put on a respirator of some sort and it was for quite a bit. Hopefully, this was a sign of the times to casual analyzers that using points per game to evaluate a player’s overall performance is not the path to run on.
It’s incredible how much better the Knicks were without Bargnani on the floor. According to 82games.com, when Bargs was off the floor, the Knicks produced 1.3 net points per 100 possessions. When Bargs was on the floor, the Knicks produced, actually, lost rather, -7.1 net points per 100 possessions. Mike Woodson, for some reason, thought the idea of playing Bargs in a lineup with Carmelo Anthony was going to help him drive into the lane more, because of the floor spacing myth. Yup, not so much. In a lot of ways, it reminded me of when Melo, Amare Stoudemire and Tyson Chandler all stunk while sharing the floor together, despite all of the offensive firepower.
The only beneficial thing Bargs did on the offensive end this season was, realizing that he was an impotent three point shooter, drain mid-range shots at a decent rate. According to basketball-reference.com, Bargs hit 48% of his two point shots from 16+ feet or more. So, even though it looked like he was useless offensively like Jason Kidd was in last year’s Eastern Conference semis, at least he masked his struggles…juuuuuuust a little bit.
As expected, Bargs was the same Bargs from his last few seasons on offense. He didn’t really fulfill any offensive expectations. But, you know, he’s a dangerous 7 footer that did lots of damage (to himself).