NBA Roundtable

Bargnani’s Debut To The Season

In General NBA on October 29, 2009 at 6:31 pm

I wrote this earlier in the comments section

Shaq was terrible last night. He can’t come anywhere close to defending a shooter of Bargnani’s caliber in the high pick and roll, and he can’t defend the ball-handler either. That’s a very nice flaw for the Raptors opposing team to have … one they can pummel the opposition with over and over and over again.

Andrea Bargnani did a very good job defending Shaquille O’Neal in the low post too. His post defense was good-to-very good last season … hopefully he can take another leap defensively in that area again this season too.

Andrea Bargnani had a very good game. Offensively he was brilliantly and defensively he was good (very good one-on-one, particularly in the post).

The Scoring

Andrea Bargnani shot the ball extremely well last night. In part due to an excellent individual shooting performance and in part due to a poor defensive effort + lack of a suitable one-on-one defender from the Cavs.

  • Bargnani shot 11-15 from the floor and added 4-4 from the line.
  • That was good for a true shooting percentage of 83.5% (or 82.4% since there were no and-ones, whichever figure you prefer)

Now obviously Bargnani isn’t going to post a true shooting percentage of 83.5% for a season. So, how many points would he have scored if he shot his usual percentages …

  • Bargnani has a true shooting percentage of 53.8% for his career and posted a career high of 55.9% last season. During 2009, Bargnani had a true shooting percentage of 57.6%.
  • I think Bargnani’s 2009 mark is the most accurate description of his scoring efficiency at present. In the future (possibly this season) I think he has an excellent chance of improving that mark and getting up around 60%.

Okay, so if Bargnani shot ball comparably to how he shot during 2009

  • Bargnani is still taking 15 shots and 4 free throws. Only this time he’s making a number more in line with what we’ll usually see from him … so he’d score 19-20 points on true shooting percentage of 56.7%-to-59.7%.

So, based on Bargnani’s performance from last night he’d score 19-20 points on those number of shot attempts.

A few other notes on the game …

  • Shot attempts — Bargnani took 15 shot attempts in 30 minutes. That is roughly a fifth/sixth more than the number he took last season during 2009 (14.6 in 35 minutes). That is slightly more than he took last season which isn’t surprising considering how well he was playing offensively + how good a matchup he had.
    • Now maybe I’m wrong here and maybe Bargnani is able to get off more shot attempts per minutes and still hit them at a very good rate over the course of a full season. But I’ll need to see that happen on nights where Bargnani isn’t shooting lights out + doesn’t have an excellent matchup to exploit to convince me of that. Until I see that, I don’t believe Bargnani will sustain it due to the nature of his scoring (reliance on teammates to create shot attempts).
  • Free Throws — Bargnani got four free throws for his fifteen shots. Last season, during 2009, he got 4.26 free throws for his 14.6 shot attempts. Again, in line with what he did last season.
  • Assisted Baskets — Ten of Andrea’s eleven baskets were assisted on. That’s a friendly assist figure considering the two post up scores on LeBron, but even then that would only take it down to eight assisted baskets … in other words, Bargnani was still quite reliant on his teammates to help him get off a shot attempt.
  • Rebounding — Bargnani had 5 rebounds in 30 minutes. That is one rebound every six minutes which is in line with what he’s done throughout his career and exactly in line with what he did last season.
  • Post Defense — Bargnani played good-to-very good post defense last season. He had troubles elsewhere in his defensive game both on and off the ball, particularly off the ball, but he was well above average at defending the low post against back to the basket scorers. Last night, we saw Bargnani play very good to excellent post defense on the Cavs. So maybe we’ve seen an improvement here.

So … (1) Bargnani’s shot attempts (2) number of assisted baskets (3) rebounds (4) post defense … were all fairly comparable to what we saw from him last season.

In other words, the main reason for such a marked performance was that he shot the ball extremely well (at a rate he can’t sustain).

Shot The Ball Well

This was the same argument I put forward on RaptorsTalk after the loss to the Orlando Magic in the playoffs.

  • One of the commentators there (phdsteve, I think, memory is a bit fuzzy on who it was) argued that Jason Kapono could play like he did in the playoffs and score 15 points per game the following season.
  • While I argued that Kapono played comparably to how he played throughout the previous regular season (shot attempts/pattern, rebounds, passing, defense) … and that the reason for the improved scoring was just that Kapono (1) got hot and made more shots than usual [56% true shooting in the season to 71.4% in the playoffs, which he wouldn’t be able to sustain the regular season] and (2) played more minutes.

What I’m trying to say about Bargnani is something similar … what I saw from him last night against Cleveland was comparable to what he did last season in 2009.

Excitement In Raptors Land

There’s a huge amount of excitement (expectation for/happiness with) Andrea Bargnani in the Raptors community after Bargnani’s performance last night … now, maybe I’m not understanding the excitement or the reasons for it properly but it just seemed a little off to me.

  • If the reason for the excitement is the belief that Bargnani will have a breakout season and become a much improved player this season … then I don’t think we’ve seen enough, or at least I haven’t seen enough last night to convince me that that will happen.
  • If the reason for the excitement is the belief that Bargnani can repeat his performances from 2009 … then I think the excitement is well founded — although, I can’t understand said person(s) not being convinced by 50 games last season and then convinced after one game this game. That makes no sense to me.

Anyway …

Summary

So, my expectations for Andrea Bargnani and for his impact on the Raptors this season wouldn’t change after last night.

I thought the majority of his good performance last night came down to an exceptional shooting performance and a poor defensive effort from the Cavs.

So my expectations for Bargnani would still to be to have comparable numbers to what he put up last season — 19-20 points and 6 rebounds in 35 minutes with very efficient scoring — and not that he’s turned himself into a top go-to scorer who you can throw the ball to an expect him to lead your offense or score 24+ points per game. At least to me, his performance didn’t show that type of capacity.

Furthermore, you’d fully expect a player who scores almost as many points as he plays minutes while shooting 83.5% from the floor to have a large positive effect on the game. But when those shooting numbers come back down to earth, then it will be the non-scoring parts of a player’s game that decide how effectual he’ll be, and those are still a question mark for Andrea Bargnani.

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  1. Great post. Fantastic. I’ve been saying the same things about Bargnani for months- about him not becoming an elite scorer. In fact I had a recent post about it on my blog. Last night was a superb shooting night, but it’s not something he can do consistently because of his reliance on teammates and low FTA/FGA ratio.

  2. Hey Tim W.,

    Thanks for the kind words and welcome to the site!

    I really enjoyed reading a few of the articles on your site particularly the one you just mentioned on the FTA/FGA ratio which I agree is major part of becoming a great scorer. Extremely difficult to be an elite scorer without being able to get easy points at the line.

  3. One of the reason for Bargs number of FTA is when he drives players just get out of his way. And they should – have seen how big the guy is?

    Another unrated player primarily because he isn’t American.

    Of course averaging 11 of 15 isn’t reasonable. Only Wilt Chamberlain ever averaged that percentage and it only happened one year in the NBA’s history.

  4. Dave, Shaq and Dwight Howard are big, but they seem to get their free throws. And I actually think that if he was American, he might not be nearly as renowned. Ask Troy Murphy, whose a better player, but you rarely hear anything about.

  5. re: Bargnani

    When the match-ups are in his favour … which, in the NBA game, happens less than many others may realize, especially once the team/individual player scouting reports begin to circulate through the league, in a given season … he can and will flourish, as a perimeter-based Big who can make [i] uncontested jump-shots and [ii] shot-fake drive rights with regularity, but has little else going for him on a game-to-game basis.

    When the match-ups are NOT in his favour … i.e. when he is checked by a mid-to-undersized #4/PF who can move his feet on defense 20+ feet away from the basket, e.g. DeMarre Carroll, or Brandon Bass, or Josh Smith, etc. … then, it’s far from being a pretty sight for the Raptors.

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