Andrea the Giant: What Bargnani could do for New York

andreabargnaniNY

The NBA hasn’t been easy for Bargnani so far. The no. 1 pick, a smooth 7 footer with a face up game – the pro­toyp­i­cal Euro­pean prospect. But for Every Dirk there’s a Darko, a Vesely. Actu­ally plenty of them. But in all fair­ness there have been enough flashes of poten­tial in Toronto.

 

 

But the con­cerns have been pretty real too. Can’t defend. Injury prone. Soft. But maybe we’re too crit­i­cal. A good player def­i­nitely. A num­ber one pick and first option maybe not. Then again in a draft where the likes of Adam Mor­ris­son & Shelden Williams were top 5 picks, its hard to blame Toronto for rolling the dice on Bargnani. What they can be blamed for is the con­tract they gave him. But then again, an NBA player’s career tra­jec­tory has a lot to do with where they get drafted. The team cul­ture. The fan­base. How they fit in the lineup. And some­times the best way out of a mid-career rut is hit­ting the reset but­ton. Hedo became on All-Star in Orlando. Tyson Chan­dler finally came into his own in Dal­las. Chauncey Billups even became Finals MVP in Detroit after bounc­ing around four other teams first.

So maybe New York was such an oppor­tu­nity for Bargnani, but big mar­ket fan bases can be harsh, and not every­one can han­dle the pres­sure (see Howard, Dwight). And it was rocky from the get go.

 

There were the pre-season strug­gles. The rain­ing of boos as if MSG had shifted to Canada. And then an already strug­gling team was dealt a pretty harsh blow. With Tyson Chan­dler going down for 4 – 6 weeks, the Knicks we’re sud­denly left with the shal­low­est front court in the League. Spe­cially with Kenyon & Amare pretty much stag­ing their own ver­sion of The Walk­ing Dead on court (seri­ously – Stoudemire looks like he retired two season’s ago, and the rare glimpses we do get on occa­sion in some games seem to just be a repeat­ing after­im­age, a glitch in the Matrix .)

So as the lack of options dic­tated the course of events, cir­cum­stance forced Bargs to deal with a very real phys­i­cal real­ity – that HE IS SEVEN FEET TALL! And sur­pris­ingly it seems its some­thing he is start­ing to accept, maybe even embrace. He was no longer a Steve Novak replace­ment with a drib­ble. He was New York’s start­ing cen­ter. The next Ewing he is not, but he showed sur­pris­ing signs of life. He was scor­ing agres­sively (25 points) & block­ing shots (5!).

He was hustling.

 

 

He was guard­ing dwight one-on-one???

As one of  the Bob­cats com­men­ta­tors said

Who is this and what has he done with Andrea Bargnani?

He seems engaged. He seems active. Attack­ing. He seems to be one the way to becom­ing the player the Knicks could have really used in the Play­offs last sea­son. A big who could pull rim pro­tect­ing big men like Hib­bert out of the paint (The Knicks were so des­per­ate for this they even tried putting Chris Copeland in at cen­ter with mod­er­ate success).

Don’t get me wrong, this is not the move that puts them over the top. They still have A LOT of issues, none big­ger than their 20 mil­lion dol­lar man with unin­sur­able knees. The porous D. The lack of con­sis­tent ball move­ment. The Point Guard posi­tion (Fel­ton is not the answer here). Every­thing J. R. Smith.

But in watch­ing Bargnani embrace this new role, its inter­est­ing to spec­u­late if this small sam­ple size actu­ally rep­re­sents a turn­ing point in his career. Is this the begin­ning of a bet­ter Bargnani? One that plays not only true to his diverse skill set, but also to his size. Or at least one that tries.

After all, it wasn’t all that long ago that we called Dirk ‘soft’ too.

 

Dev Kabir Malik has a clinically alarming dependence on basketball and spends most of his time watching, analyzing, writing and even playing a little pickup (and some 2K too). In the little time he has left, he dabbles with design, art & music.