'Situational' Bargnani criticism
Some of the criticism Bargnani gets is really devoid of any sane objective analysis, as has been the case for a long time, and as I have about an hour to spare ...
Before this year (and even this year, mainly at the beginning) the main point of the people in the ant-Bargnani camp was something like: "i'm not complaining about his offense it is his defense which I find to be that bad, that he's hurting the team." (Of course this was accompanied by criticism of his rebounding). But when you looked at the situational stats which could and can by found on synergy, Bargnani didn't too bad. Sebastian Pruiti wrote a piece about this, saying that Bargnani wasn't that bad on individual defense. The counter by the ant-Bargnani camp was that his stats were made to look good because Bargnani always defended the weaker player. My research this summer proved that statement to be not supported by facts. I didn't do that research with the intent to prove that statement wrong as I was really wondering myself. I for one, have critised his offense on here and elswhere (which means to friends of mine willing to talk about it) because I always thought (and think) that with his skillset he should be able to be more efficient than he has been (even if he has a supporting cast unable to adequately spread the floor).
But now, something different is happening. Nowadays apparently at least part of the focus has switched to the offense of Bargnani as a main point of criticism. To me it's pretty evident why this is, it's because it's getting harder to attack his defense. Now some people are saying that Bargnani has plateaued and this statement is supporting by primarily looking at his offensive stats.
Now, I ask you, why not look at the defensive stats as well? Why not look to his overall impact on the team? If he improved those, what does that mean for the idea that he plateaued?
As you probably remember, somewhere in january there was the news that Bargnani was at the top of defenders in the league when looking at the situational defensive stats of synergy. That was after about 10/11 games. One clear point of criticism was that the sample size was small, which I agree with. But now, after the season, the sample size of course has increased. This does not mean that these are sacred stats, but they cannot be ignored as well (if you want to be somewhat objective) and they do tell a story.
PPP (Points allowed Per Possession)
Bargnani 0,73 (on 234 possessions)
Lebron James 0,8 (673 p)
Dwight Howard 0,75 (306 p)
James Johnson 0,92 (441 p)
DeMar DeRozan 0,92 (519 p)
Jose Calderon 0,93 (622 p)
Another interesting way to look at Bargnani's influence on the team overall is to look at the Offensive (OffRtg) and Defensive rating (DefRtg) with Bargnani on and off the floor (all stats from nba.com).
In 2010-2011 that didn't look too good:
I'd say 'Ooops'... One could argue that he was a starter on a bad team and was going up against the best players, but in reality it probably was more than this alone. His missfit as a defensive anker on a bad defensive team was pretty clear if you compare his stats to those of Calderon. With Calderon off court the Netrating dropped from -5,3 to -8,4. With Calderon off court the Offensive rating dropped 3 points, while the defensive rating didn't improve (even dropped a bit).
But now, lets look at this year's ratings of Bargnani:
That's looking much better, his relative impact is very cleary a positive one when you look at this stat. And it's saying to me, that there is no reason to assume that Bargnani is at his peak, is only getting worse, or anything like it. There are clear signs, beyond the eye-test, that Bargnani's overall impact on the team has significantly improved this year (even though there was inconsistency and regressing after his injury those are translated in the stats). My personal opinion on this is that there was already an improvement in individual defense last year and it has continued this year. His teamdefense did improve a bit this year but is not where we'd like it to be but I would be very interested to see him next to a (team)defensively capable (and agile) center.
Let's try to be a little bit objective, and look at Bargnani's overall game instead of singling out those things that support our argument, especially when we don't back it up (but those who don't, well, they don't and probably won't).