The Raptors 2nd Unit & The Case For Bargnani As A 6th Man
In the past I have defended Andrea Bargnani and hoped that he would reach the lofty expectations that we set for him when we drafted him 1st overall. However over the years, the disappointment and frustration starts to set in when we consider Andrea and his inconsistency. Even I would be satisfied with trading Bargnani if it makes the team better. The recent run that the raptors had while Andrea was injured makes a case for the "addition by subtraction" argument, where people believe that just getting rid of him will improve our team. But I am not among those that believe he is a useless player, I think that we finally have a coach that is willing to hold him accountable, and BC has finally realized that we cannot ask Andrea to do too much. Trading him would be an option worth considering if we can do it by significantly improving our team. I would like to present the argument that Andrea can be a tremendously effective player as a 6th man in this league.
I will start by comparing his number's to players that are considered elite 6th men in todays NBA. I know the numbers argument does not meet the "eye test", however numbers do not lie, and when making an objective comparison it is good to base things on fact rather than opinion. We are not shy about expressing our opinions, and we express them often enough on these forums.
We will compare Bargnani's career numbers with Jason Terry, J. R Smith, and Jamal Crawford. I think we can all agree that these players have made a living being 6th men, and have been invaluable to their respective teams over the years. None of these players is known for their defense, which plays well into Andrea's style of play because it is no secret that defense is not one of his forte's, however the role of the 6th man is to fill the basket which is something that these players do exceptionally well. No one can deny that Andrea Bargnani can score the basketball. For this reason I will focus on offensive statistics.
Player Pts Field Goal% 3pt% Min.
Jason Terry 15.9 44.7 37.9 33.4
J.R Smith 12.8 42.5 36.8 24.8
Jamal Crawford 15.3 40.9 34.8 31.7
A. Bargnani 15.5 43.8 36.2 30.6
As you can see, the only player who is an elite 6th man who is more efficient than Andrea Bargnani overall is Jason Terry. Andrea, however, has averaged about the same amount of points as Terry in almost 3 less minutes per game. Once again we are comparing him to the BEST 6th men in the league right now. This leads me to believe that he can flourish in this role.
It is not true that the raptors have never played well with Bargnani in the lineup there have been stretches in the past where we played exceptionally well. The mistake in my opinion is asking Bargnani to do too much, trying to make him a leader or franchise player on this team is not realistic. As a role player though Bargnani can be very valuable, he is incredibly skilled for his size, and is a unique offensive player in this league. He causes mismatches, he stretches the floor, and can give other teams fits.
Now many will say that this is not a fair comparison because bargnani is putting up career low's in offensive numbers this year, perhaps he has forgotten how to score the basketball? Let's take a look at his numbers this year:
16pts a game shooting 39.8% FG and and 31.9% 3PT%.
These numbers in terms of efficiency look very similiar to a player that members of this forum would love to trade for by the name of Rudy Gay who averages:
17.9pts a game shooting 41.3% and 30.8% from 3PT.
The good thing about Bargnani is that we don't have to trade anyone to get these numbers, he is already on our team! We just need him to get healthy.
For those that believe that our current run while he was injured is the only proof that we need to declare that our team will be better without Andrea Bargnani, I would like to remind everyone that a few years ago the raptors came together as a team and played great basketball for a long stretch while Chris Bosh was injured, this did not mean that our team was better without Bosh as we later found out after we traded him.
To be clear, I am not against trading Bargnani, if we can get something valuable that legitimately helps the team, then I am all for it. However, trading him for the sake of trading him does not make sense, until we can at least see how he would respond to a role as 6th man.
That being said, I am very excited about the raptors 2nd unit once we get healthy:
PG: K. Lowry (or Calderon)
SG: Terrence Ross
SF: Alan Anderson
PF: Andrea Bargnani
C: Amir Johnson
I think this 2nd unit will outplay 90% of the 2nd units in the league. Lowry/Calderon is an elite 2nd unit PG. Bargnani can cause problems, Ross is oozing with potential, Johnson is a great 2 way player who is consistent, and Alan Anderson continues to impress. I for one cannot wait until Bargnani and JV get healthy so we can see how this plays out. If the team doesn't respond well to Bargnani at the 6th man, then trade him before the deadline, but not until a great deal presents itself, we have waited this long, lets see how this plays itself out.
What do you guys think?