NBA Roundtable

Bargnani’s Rookie Season

In General NBA on September 17, 2009 at 6:15 am

Let’s wind our memories back to Andrea Bargnani’s rookie season.

Andrea Bargnani improved consistently throughout his rookie year. He got off to a rocky start in November, but improved considerably in December and January, and then took his game up to another notch in February. Unfortunately the young Bargnani would suffer an injury, one that would disrupt his strong finish to the season.

Chuck Swirsky was convinced that Bargnani’s strong play from February onwards would have continued, and he even felt that Bargnani may improve on his performances. I mention this because I agree with Chuck, not with the rookie of the year vote, but that Andrea Bargnani was rolling and only likely to get better before the season ended.

So let’s have a look see at how Bargnani was performing back then.

Rookie Season

Okay, let’s have a quick look at Bargnani’s stats in February, March and the one game he played in April.

Games

Minutes

February

12

344

March

8

238

April

1

27

Total

21

609

  • Bargnani played 21 games and averaged 29 minutes a night in those contests.

How was Bargnani’s non-scoring production?

Rebounds

Assists

Steals

Blocks

Turnovers

Fouls

February

47

10

5

5

21

28

March

41

4

6

8

21

26

April

5

2

1

1

1

3

Total

99

16

12

14

43

57

  • Bargnani was averaging 4.71 rebounds and 0.76 assists per game.
  • Bargnani also added 0.57 steals and 0.67 blocks a night.
  • As well as 2.05 turnovers and 2.71 fouls a game.

And how effectively was Bargnani scoring the ball?

FGM

FGA

3FGA

3FGM

FTM

FTA

Points

February

62

122

29

60

19

23

172

March

39

91

17

46

20

25

115

April

5

12

1

5

6

8

17

Total

106

225

47

111

45

56

304

  • Andrea Bargnani was scoring 14.48 points per game.
  • Bargnani was shooting 47.1% from the floor, 42.3% from three point range, and 80.4% from the free throw line.
  • Bargnani had a true shooting percentage of 60.8%
  • Bargnani took 10.71 field goal attempts per game, half of which were three pointers, and another 2.66 free throws a game.

There’s one thing which struck me throughout Bargnani’s strong-ish play in 2009 and that was how close his statistics are to this period in his rookie season. There’s a minutes difference there, but if you even it out, the numbers really are quite comparable.

Comparison To 2009

Obviously, there’s also some sample size issues. Bargnani only played 21 games in the 2007 sample, which is only a quarter of the season … but anyway … I think it creates a rough picture that we can judge off of.

How does Bargnani’s production during this period measure up to performance level during 2009?


Minutes

Points

Rebounds

Blocks

TS%

2007

29

14.48

4.71

0.67

60.8%

2009

35

19.0

6.05

1.15

57.6%

Adjust The Minutes

Okay, there’s a decent gap in the minutes there so let’s even that up and have another look — Bargnani’s rookie stats extrapolated to 35 minutes per game and compare them to his 2009 numbers

Points

Rebounds

Blocks

TS%

17.5

5.7

0.81

60.8%

19.0

6.05

1.15

57.6%

Some notes:

  • In 2009, Bargnani took 14.57 field goal attempts per game and 4.26 free throws. In his rookie year, that was 10.71 field goals and 2.66 free throws which would become 12.92 field goal attempts and 3.2 free throw attempts when adjusted to 35 minute projections.
    • So, in 2009, Bargnani took roughly two more possessions per game to score an extra point and a half.
  • Now, Bargnani probably wouldn’t have kept up his 60.8% true shooting mark. That’s exceptional and the type of number which would be a career best, but I do think Bargnani out-does his 2009 mark principally because a larger percentage of his attempts were coming from downtown.
  • Bargnani’s non-scoring stats — rebounding, assists, blocks, turnovers, fouls — have all seen small improvements.
    • Bargnani’s steals have fallen, he actually recorded his best year steals wise (per game + per minute) in his rookie season.

Clearly, Bargnani has improved his all round game — his non-scoring stats plus his defense — but I don’t think we’ve seen much improvement offensively. It’s more comparable/different than better or worse.

Three Questions

#1 — How much of last season’s 2009 performance + somewhat impressive stat line was actual improvement and how much was down to Bargnani simply receiving more minutes?

#2 — There’s no question that Bargnani has improved since his rookie season outburst … but how much has he improved? Is it a relatively large amount, or a relatively small amount?

  • By relatively, I mean over the time period of Bargnani’s career.
    • Obviously his improvement would be great if it came in one month, but this is more than two years after, and Bargnani is a fair bit into his NBA career at this stage.
  • Bear in mind — Andrea Bargnani just finished his third season, he has played 221 career games, and logged just under 6,000 minutes.

#3 — Do your answers to the previous two questions change your opinion on how much potential Bargnani has and is likely to fulfill?

  • Do you feel that Bargnani has improved tremendously and it’s signs of much more to come?
  • Or do you feel that Bargnani’s improvement hasn’t been overly impressive and does it make you question how much more he’ll improve?
  • Or some less extreme answer that you’d care to explain

How about a fourth question — do you think Bargnani’s numbers from this brief period in his rookie season are insignificant because you’re not convinced that Bargnani could have maintained those numbers through the season + for that 20% minutes increase?

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  1. His scoring totals may not show much difference, but he’s diversified his game, and got to the line more and not parked out and launched as many threes. His scoring number may go down because he shot 3’s at a good rate and they are worth more, and in the latter years he’s relied less on it. This is a coaching strategy, as there are other benefits to further diversifying his attack, such as forcing bigs to guard him, and punishing team who put a small guy on him,expecting to simply be a perimeter shooter.

    His root problems, after he got the traveling thing out of his system, have been picking up fouls, defensive awareness (help D) and rebounding. That what was keeping him off the floor, and being kept off the floor, or being fearful of being benched for mistakes or missed shots contributed to a dip in offensive production in his second year, imo. So to me, his improvident is gogin to come in those areas. I’m not sure you can shoot a ball any better than he already shoots it, when his game is rolling.

    Perhaps the way to look at it is Offensively, Bargnani has been potent since coming in to the league, expect for some stretches. When he get’s consistent minutes, it would seem he tends to produce those result offensively. However, he has been working on the other areas of his game, that needed improvement. So it’s not fair to look at his offensive numbers and say there’s no room for improvement when the areas of improvement most need, are not really in scoring – accept for maybe diversifying his attack and punishing teams for putting a small on him, which he has done is his second year. When Andrea takes the nest step is when or if, he becomes a leader on the floor and whether he takes and aggressive or passive approach to his role on the team.

  2. As I recall, management was pretty clear that Bargnani was a project coming into his first season. So it’s reasonable to think that he still has a chance of being a productive NBA player, perhaps even a borderline all-star if he learns some things, namely better defensive/rebounding positioning. I’m not saying that this will happen, but your analysis of his rookie and latter half of last season indicate to me at least that there is still some hope for Bargnani. Roy will be the better player from that draft year barring career-ending injury but there is still some hope for Bargnani to be a significant contributor, maybe even the 2nd-best player from that rather weak draft.

  3. Dave,

    Please explain what information here you are considering when you say that Bargnani’s defense has improved during his career to-date?

    I’m saying, “it has” or “it hasn’t” … just yet … all I’m asking at this time is to know the criteria you’re using to make that assessment.

  4. I didn’t list the minutes adjusted numbers for Bargnani’s non-scoring stats, only to say there was a small improvement across the board. Here are the stats for those who are interested:

    Stat — 2007 — 2009

    RPG — 5.68 — 6.05
    APG — 0.92 — 1.43
    SPG — 0.69 — 0.43
    BPG — 0.81 — 1.15

    Turnovers — 2.47 — 2.07
    Fouls — 3.27 — 3.17

    So pretty much across the board, with steals being the exception, Bargnani has made improvements to his numbers.

  5. Khandor,

    I think there’s a consensus that Bargnani has improved his defense … what there doesn’t seem to be a consensus on is how much he’s improved defensively.

    I made no attempt in the post to evaluate that, I didn’t want that to cloud any other information, so I’ll leave it to the reader to decide how much they think Bargnani has improved defensively.

    My View On Bargnani’s Defense

    Anyway, while I didn’t won’t to discuss in the post, I’m happy to do so here.

    I think Bargnani has matured from a below average post defender into a good post defender. I also think Bargnani has gotten a bit better as a shot blocker, mainly because of more focus + effort, but that he’s still well below average in this regard.

    I think Bargnani’s one-on-one defense in all other non-post up situations is poor — bigs who face up, like to drive, play off the midpost or elbows, perimeter orientated bigs, that type of stuff — and very poor with his team defense.

    Since there’s not that many big men with good back to the basket games, the advantages gained by his post defense don’t come close to his lack of impact in other man-to-man defensive situations … nevermind his lack of impact as an off ball defender.

    For me, Bargnani’s improvement defensively exists but is fairly small.

  6. #1 – His stat line was better. A ton of this is about getting more minutes. His per-minute numbers did go up, though. You could argue that some of this was still a result of more minutes, because he was more confident out there. I think that has some truth to it.

    #2 – He’s improved a fair amount. We probably expected too much of him when he was drafted, as we saw a ton of skill and we knew he was the #1 pick. His defensive and rebounding limitations really hurt him, though. Still do.

    #3 – He’s improved. He’s a good player. Offensively, he’s very effective. I just really hope he figures out how to play like a big man. Especially if the Raps are planning to have Bosh and Bargnani be the frontline for the next decade, Bargs is gonna have to stop being such an awful rebounder. I think it’ll happen.

    #4 – The numbers are significant. Just like his numbers from January onwards last season are significant. They show what he can do. As he grows, he should get more consistent.

  7. If I played GM through a video game, the first thing I would do is trade Bargnani for Chris Kaman and prospects. The fit is outstanding, and although Kaman is 4 years older, he fits the age-group of our core players much better than Bargs. Buuuuut…. I cant really fault BC or fans for sticking with our draft pick as the overwhelming feeling is that people really WANT him to be successful, even if probability sees it unlikely.

  8. Dave,

    What I meant is that … from the list of non-scoring stats you’re citing here:

    ———————————————————–
    I didn’t list the minutes adjusted numbers for Bargnani’s non-scoring stats, only to say there was a small improvement across the board. Here are the stats for those who are interested:

    Stat — 2007 — 2009

    RPG — 5.68 — 6.05
    APG — 0.92 — 1.43
    SPG — 0.69 — 0.43
    BPG — 0.81 — 1.15

    Turnovers — 2.47 — 2.07
    Fouls — 3.27 — 3.17

    So pretty much across the board, with steals being the exception, Bargnani has made improvements to his numbers.
    ———————————————————–

    ONLY 1 category associated exclusively with “defense” has improved since his initial season, i.e. BPG [0.81-to-1.15].

    i.e. PFs occur on both defense and offense.

    If I’m reading what you’re saying here correctly, then, IMO, this single category should NOT be considered as “statistical evidence” that Bargnani’s “defense” [i.e. Individual and Team, On and Off the Ball, when checking Centers, Power Forwards, Small Forwards, Off Guards and Point Guards, in a variety of in-game situations, etc.] has in fact improved by a substantial margin since his 1st season.

    In my book:

    Offense is a distinct category.
    Defense is a distinct category.
    Rebounding is a distinct category.

    When Barganani’s overall defensive game is then broken down into a host of other specific sub-categories … e.g. keeping G’s & F’s in front of him when Switches have been initiated as a defensive tactic vs Pick & Roll/Pop attacks … the amount of actual progress he has made in this area is quite minimal.

  9. Khandor,

    Yes, those stats aren’t there to indicate Bargnani’s overall defensive improvement … just the improvement in that specific statistic.

  10. Let’s not forget that there were two major differences in Bargnani’s rookie campaign and last season:

    1. In his rookie year, Bargnani came off the bench behind Rasho. This is going to have a positive impact across all of his statistics since for a greater % of his minutes on the floor, he’s playing against bench players.

    2. In his rookie year, the team was MUCH stronger than it was last year. This was the year the Raptors took the division. With Bosh, TJ Ford, Garbajosa, Calderon, a younger AP, etc., Bargnani was probably the third to fourth option when he was on the floor. Last year, he was at worst the second option on the floor, and when Bosh was sitting, the first option. Defenses focused in a lot more last year. So while his offensive numbers may have looked similar, the fact that he kept those numbers despite the added defensive attention shows great progress in my opinion.

    Another stat that if you could pull up would be great would be fouls drawn. His TS% may have gone down because he’s not taking 50% 3PTers, but let’s not forget that one of the greatest strengths of Bargs is the mismatch he presence for other centers. I’ll take a slight drop in TS% if he’s hitting the opposing starting center with an extra foul or two and putting him on the bench.

  11. Raptors Cowboy,

    I have no idea what the fouls drawn numbers were for those specific periods … but 82games.com has the numbers for the full season … so we can use them and get a ball park figure.

    Rookie season — Bargnani drew 9.3 fouls per 100 field goal attempts
    Second season — Bargnani drew 9.6 fouls per 100 field goal attempts
    Third season — Bargnani drew 10.6 fouls per 100 field goal attempts

    If you look at the free throw attempts per 36 minutes:

    Bargnani’s FTA increased from 3.1 to 3.3 to 3.9 for his rookie, second and third seasons respectively. During Bargnani’s breakout period in his rookie season, he was averaging 3.3 free throws per 36 minutes. In 2009, Bargnani was pumping in just under 4.4 attempts per 36 minutes.

    So there’s a 12% increase in fouls drawn per field goal, and a 33% increase in free throws attempt per minute for Bargnani’s 2009 performance over his best period in his rookie season.

  12. IMO, it is simple folly to expect that Bargnani’s “improved performance numbers” from the final 46 games last season will remain consistent this season or become even better.

    How come?

    In the most simplistic sense possible …

    Hedo Turkoglu is not the same player as Shawn Marion.
    DeMar DeRozan is not the same player as Anthony Parker.
    etc., etc., etc.

    The dynamics of how the specific players on this year’s Raptors team may still go one of three distinct ways:

    * Be improved compared to previous years
    * Remain similar compared to previous years
    * Be worse compared to previous years

    Although there are many who think that Hedo Turkoglu and DeMar DeRozan are better basketball players today than Shawn Marion and Anthony Parker, etc., this opinion is not shared by everyone.

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