Skip to content

Andrea Bargnani playing a lot of small forward? Bad. Idea. Jeans.

Oct 3, 2013, 9:15 AM EDT

Andrea Bargnani AP

Carmelo Anthony thrived last season on offense for the Knicks playing the four, the power forward spot — he could take bigger guys outside and beat them off the dribble, if teams went small against him he could post up.

But that creates some roster challenges for Mike Woodson this season because Andrea Bargnani, Amar’e Stoudemire. Kenyon Martin and C.J. Leslie play the four. Martin will mostly play backup center behind Tyson Chandler, but there are not enough standard lineup power forward minutes to go around.

Chris Herring proposed an answer at the Wall Street Journal — Bargnani at the three.

Here’s where the Knicks’ newest big man, Andrea Bargnani, comes in: Sliding the 7-footer over to small forward on defense could alleviate the problem and get Anthony more of the minutes he needs….

Beyond unclogging the team’s logjam at power forward, sliding Bargnani to the wing would better utilize his best defensive skill: defending jump shots, which he’s done at an elite level over the past two seasons, according to advanced metrics.

To quote one of the best Saturday Night Live fake commercials ever: Bad. Idea. Jeans.

There are a couple issues here. First, most small forwards don’t just shoot jump shots in the NBA — they can put the rock on the floor and drive the lane. You’re going to have Bargnani guard the likes of Paul Pierce, Josh Smith, Andre Iguodala, Chandler Parsons, Paul George, Kawhi Leonard, and Rudy Gay?

The Washington Post story has former Raptors coach Sam Mitchell putting it this way:

“[Playing small forward on defense] takes a commitment to running, and he’s not gonna do that,” Mitchell said, adding that he briefly, and unsuccessfully, played Bargnani there during a 2008 playoff series against Orlando.

The Post story uses some of the Sports VU data — the high-tech cameras going into every NBA arena this year — and they found when Bargnani contested a shot he did it well. The problem was he was only within five feet of his man when the shot went up 21.9 percent of the time.

The Knicks are going to score points — for all the concerts about bad shots that Carmelo Anthony and J.R. Smith take, the Knicks had the sixth best offense in the NBA last season. Where they need to improve is defense — they need more out of Iman Shumpert, they added Metta World Peace, and Tyson Chandler still patrols the paint.

More Bargnani doesn’t help their defensive issues, we’ll see if he’s found his shot and can help on the other side of the court.

  1. bougin89 - Oct 3, 2013 at 10:09 AM

    Just because Carmelo is listed or is playing as a PF on offense doesn’t mean he can’t be matched up with the opposing SF’s on defense. Have Bargnani stand near the opposing PF on the other end. (see what I did there?)

    • zoomy123 - Oct 3, 2013 at 3:23 PM

      Have you actually seen Andrea Bargnani’s shot chart?! For a 7 foot PF it’s a nightmare. The guy takes more 3’s than 8-16 foot jump shots. This is the guy you wanna put at the SF position? Good luck with that.

      • bougin89 - Oct 3, 2013 at 4:57 PM

        No, I was just commenting on the defensive matchups in this case and throwing a dig at Bargnani.

  2. dadeyemi - Oct 3, 2013 at 10:22 AM

    Honestly, if the plan is to play Bargs at the 3 and Melo at 4 and vice versa on defense, that’s actually a really smart idea

    • cmehustle - Oct 5, 2013 at 10:53 PM

      There is no chance I would put my three on Bargs defensively and my 4 on Carmelo. So there goes your advantage.

  3. eddit13 - Oct 3, 2013 at 10:39 AM

    To be fair, this is Chris Herring’s suggestion. I don’t think he thought it through. Bargnani isn’t Gallinari who is gawky but more mobile and less prone to injuries. In that instance it works but a lumbering 7 footer who’s prone to injury doesn’t need to be running after guys like LeBron, Paul George and Rudy Gay. Bad idea indeed.

  4. stoudemelo - Oct 3, 2013 at 11:10 AM

    So you’re telling me because it didn’t work once in a 5 game playoff series there is no chance of it working?

    Also half these Small Forwards you listed that Bargnani can’t guard play in the Western conference.

  5. skinsfanwill - Oct 3, 2013 at 11:39 AM

    Yeah okay, I want to see him guard Lebron, Jeff Green, Luol Deng, Paul George, Thaddeus Young or Evan Turner etc etc etc. He can’t guard his own position, much less guard a faster a guy. Bottom line is there isn’t a commitment to defense on that TEAM. You have to be able to play team defense not just defending one position. Amare, Melo, JR Smith, Felton…… skip all that. The only people that play some form of defense on that team is Shumpert and Chandler. Everyone else is horrible. So when everyone else gets beat on D your good defenders end up in foul trouble. So switching Barg’s to any position will end in the same result…him getting beat.

  6. johngalt1783 - Oct 3, 2013 at 12:14 PM

    Raptors tried him at SF it was a disaster.
    He is big enough to defend Centers but not quick enough or alert enough on defense to defense the rim
    PF is probably the least bad of the three options.

    However all are bad when it comes to Bargnani’s defense. His offense is either lights out when he is hot which is in the minority or terrible most of the time.

    Truthfully he shouldn’t even be in the NBA.

  7. cruzan80 - Oct 3, 2013 at 12:59 PM

    Nothing Bargnani did in Toronto matters all that much to me. It was a bad team who drafted a “Robin” expecting him to be “Batman”. This does not make him a “bad” player….just a “good” player on a very bad team. He’s now gonna be the 3rd or maybe 4th opotion on a good team. In my opinion, by seasons end this will prove to be one of the best offseason moves of the summer.

    • noldaemon - Oct 4, 2013 at 8:37 AM

      Players usually do better on worse teams, because they’ll be a higher option than they’d be on a good team. Look what happened to Chris Bosh’s stats after he left Toronto. Look up Mike James, same thing. Did well in Toronto, didn’t do as well on another team. You’re saying Bargnani will do better given less minutes and less shots? Good luck with that. BTW, a big problem with Bargs is he doesn’t listen to criticism. If he misses 10 shots in a row, he’s going to miss the 11th whether the coach likes it or not. He has no concept of changing his style based on whether his shot is going down. Very frustrating.

  8. money2long - Oct 3, 2013 at 1:25 PM

    it doesn’t matter what the new stats say about the knicks. people will still criticize melo and the rest of them blindly without watching any games.

    • adamsjohn714 - Oct 3, 2013 at 5:15 PM

      it doesn’t matter what stats (old or new) say about Melo or the Knicks. People will continue to think they’re amazing no matter what.

Leave Comment

You must be logged in to leave a comment. Not a member? Register now!

Top 10 NBA Player Searches
  1. L. James (1977)
  2. D. Rose (1777)
  3. K. Bryant (1631)
  4. J. Smith (1552)
  5. T. Thompson (1379)
  1. K. Irving (1351)
  2. T. Wroten (1337)
  3. A. Davis (1281)
  4. F. Saunders (1248)
  5. J. Embiid (1228)