Saturday, February 19, 2011

Bargnani's big night against the Heat

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In the wake of the Toronto-Miami game that took place on February 16th (the Raptors lost 103-95), I immediately - and predictably - received comments about what a great game Andrea Bargnani had. After all, Bargnani scored 38 points on 15-26 shooting!

Well, yes, Bargnani ended up with an efficient shooting night. But when I look at his shooting and scoring by quarter, I don't feel so good about how his night went:
  • 1st: 4-9 FGA, 1-2 FTA for 10 points
  • 2nd: 2-5 FGA for 4 points
  • 3rd: 3-4 FGA for 7 points
  • 4th: 6-8 FGA, 2-2 FTA for 17 points
  • overall: 15-26 FGA, 3-4 FTA for 38 points

I found it pretty funny when Jack Armstrong, one of the Raptors commentators, said something to this effect during the break between the third and fourth quarters: "[Bargnani] has been outstanding tonight from an offensive perspective". At the end of the third quarter Bargnani was 9-18 for 21 points, and it was shaping up to be vintage Bargnani (as Arturo joked, maybe Armstrong meant "he has been outstandingly offensive tonight" instead).

But all that changed in the fourth quarter; Bargnani went crazy and actually shot really well, particularly from three. His incredibly efficient fourth made everyone forget about the earlier parts of the game when he wasn't shooting so well, and ended up making his final shooting numbers look impressive.

So what is my response to his performance during this game? Yes, for the game as a whole, Bargnani had a good shooting night and he helped his team with his shooting. But I can also go a little further and say that it was almost entirely his fourth quarter shooting performance that made him so efficient that night.

And remember, this is only shooting and scoring we're talking about here. How did he do with regards to the other aspects of the game?
  • 4 Rebounds: 1 DReb in the 3rd, 3 DRebs in the 4th
  • 0 Assists
  • 0 Steals
  • 0 Blocks
  • 3 TOs: 1 TO in each of the 1st, 2nd, and 4th quarters
  • 4PFs: 1 PF in the 1st, 3 PFs in the 4th
So Bargnani - the Raptors' 7 foot starting centre - picked up his first rebound with 4:26 left in the third quarter. By that time, he had already played 27:42. Over the next 11:41 he managed to quadruple his rebounding output and finished with an amazing four rebounds. He also filled up the rest of the box score with 0 assists, 0 steals, 0 blocks, and added 3 turnovers and 4 fouls.

Let's not even talk about defense.

And that's Bargnani's biggest problem: even if he shoots efficiently one night, there will be (many) nights when his shot doesn't fall. And when that happens, he has to find other ways of being productive. He hasn't managed to figure out how to do so at this point in his career, and given his age and the amount of playing time he's had in his career, it's very unlikely he'll figure it out in the future.

 - Devin


  1. bargnani's defence is the problem, not his rebounding. stat guys don't know it b/c they don't track contested boards. case in point - special ed rips a board away from a teammate and steps out of bounds. the stats indicate that he secured a possession and gave one away but the raps were always gonna get that possession.

    bosh was the best all time rap at beating his guards to a defensive board.

  2. Bargs is largely the consensus worst rebounder in NBA history. How is that not a problem?

  3. i think its pretty clear bargs doesn't have the ability to carry this team on his own or as the man, im not sure why we need to beat this with a shovel. He's the best we've got unless u wanna, let an injured barbosa, a cold shootin jose, and a sophmore in DD (who has his own issues on D) carry this team on their own. Bargs at best can be 3rd option on offense or 6th man of a bench, but he rly shouldnt be centre .... pair him with dwight..... Orlando would have a happy team

  4. Bargnani is AVERAGING 22 points per game over 50 games... and he only scored more than 40 once: not bad for a guy with "(many) nights when his shot doesn't fall"!
    In "the earlier parts of the game when he wasn't shooting so well" it had a FG% of 50%... I guess most players in the league would be happy to live with that.

    I subscribe any single line about his atrocious defense, but please try to stay objective if you want to make a point.

  5. Well, I'm afraid we have to beat this dead horse because of comments like the one above.

    If a player averages 22 PPG, but takes an average of 40 FGA per game, are they still a good scorer? No, because they took too many shots to score their points. Right now Bargnani's TS% is 5th on the team, 4th if you don't count Ajinca.

    Of all 20PPG scorers, Bargnani ranks 20/20 in TS% (Zach Randolph is actually ahead of him if you don't round your figures). That means he is the least efficient 20PPG scorer in the league:

    Want to expand that to include more players? He's 50/66 when we go to 15PPG scorers (his pal DeRozan is 53rd on this list):

    On 9-18fga, 1-2fta, with 21 points, Bargnani had a TS% of 55.61%. It was better than his season average, better than the league average of 54.2%, and enough to help the team, but I wasn't too impressed given the fact that shooting is the only thing he does at a moderately competent level. He only managed to get 1 rebound, 1 foul, and 2 TOs in addition to his shooting. Sorry, if the only thing you can do is shoot, you'll have to do better than 21 points on 9-18 shooting.

  6. I agree that Bargnani is not a great player. There's no doubt in my mind that the other nineteen players on the above list are all helping their team more than he is, when it comes to scoring and when it comes to everything else important in basketball.

    With that being said, you are overstating your case. Bargnani is the third most efficient player on the Raptors who gets any minutes, behind Amir Johnson and Ed Davis. Both of these guys are efficient but not in the habit of creating their own offense. They rely on offensive rebounding, broken plays and botched screen and roll coverage for their scoring.

    So Bargnani is scoring a bunch at a just-below average TS%. I'd say this is hurting the Raptors but nobody else on the team is doing any better. Calderon and Bayless can't touch the ball without turning it over. Derozan, Weems and Barbosa don't have much potential to morph into efficient scorers without a coherent offense around them.

    That may never happen if Bargnani is around, but the Raptors don't have a lot of great options right now.

  7. Johnson, Davis, and Dorsey all have higher TS% - doing what they do, they are more productive scorers than Bargnani. If I was coaching the team I would find a way to get those three players more of the same type of shots they're getting (ie: close to the hoop). Calderon is also shooting terribly this season - he usually shoots a TS% around 58%, and this year he's at 51.6%. I'd get him to take more of the type of shots he's comfortable taking.

    "So Bargnani is scoring a bunch at a just-below average TS%. I'd say this is hurting the Raptors but nobody else on the team is doing any better." I don't totally mind this argument, but the problem is that he's the one taking the shots. If someone else was taking his shots, then yes, that player would be assigned the same amount of damage (or more)...but he's the one responsible for the shots he takes.

    I notice something else: in addition to Calderon's shooting woes, Bargnani, DeRozan, Weems, Barbosa, Kleiza, and Jack (while in Toronto) have all shot quite a bit worse than in previous years. Coincidence? Barbosa and Jack look like they might never relearn how to shoot. Kleiza left the league and then spent most of this season injured. But Bargnani, DeRozan, and Weems all suffering large declines at once? I think they are taking dumber shots than they took last year, and it's hurting the team. All three players probably realize that salaries and awards are mostly based on PPG and are simply hoisting up as many shots as they can get away with.

    I know the rebuttal to that is "Chris Bosh used to take a lot of shots, so naturally the remaining players will have to take worse shots in his absence, which will decrease their TS%", but I haven't seen any evidence to suggest that players who increase their shot attempts show any decline in efficiency. The trick to replacing a high-usage player like Bosh is to spread the increase in shot attempts over as many players as possible and to prevent players from taking dumb shots.

  8. Again an anti-Bargnani post.... What a surprise.... If you watched Wednesday's game close and ignored the rebounds and only watched Bargnani and his d and who he was covering, he was more then fine. That is not to say his d overall is good, but in this game he was more then fine, but haters don't care....

    Same with trying to discount 38 points, which if he got a kind roll or two and the refs blew a whistle (like they did when Lebron touched the ball) he would have had 44 and you'd still complain about his game.

    The shots he takes generally are not shots a center takes, so when you look at his numbers, they actually compare favorably with 3/4's that they should be compared to.

    Add to that, no one else can shoot on this team (last in 3-pointers in the league) and players like Amir and Davis only are successful in the paint, which they can be in, since Bargnani draws defenders out......