Bargnani Shines in Loss to Rockets

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Despite his early season struggles, Andrea Bargnani is quickly becoming one of the bright spots of this young season for the New York Knicks.

After struggling for over the past two years in Toronto, Bargnani was in need of a fresh start in a big way.  Since getting a second chance in New York it seems that the former number one overall pick is finally starting to break out of the bust mold that has followed him throughout his career.

First let’s take a look at Bargnani’s first four games as a Knicks versus his last four.

In his first four games as a Knick, Bargnani looked lost.

20.9 minutes
8.8 points
2.0 rebounds
0.0 blocks
48.4% FG
33.3% 3PT

In his last four games, with Tyson Chandler out with injury, Bargnani has been exceeding expectaions.

31.2 minutes
21.3 points
6.0 rebounds
1.8 blocks
53.2% FG
50.0% 3PT

What’s most interesting about these splits is that you can clearly see that Bargnani is much more comfortable when playing heavy minutes.  Some players, for whatever reason, seem to struggle in reduced roles, which is why it shouldn’t be surprising that Bargnani has performed much better since seeing his minutes increased in the wake of the Tyson Chandler injury.

Now the question on most Knicks fans mind’s is, does Bargnani’s great play continue?

Judging from the confidence we have seen out of Bargnani over the past four games I believe the answer is yes.  One important factor in Bargnani’s continued success is not only his own confidence, but also the confidence his teammates have in him.  Something that seems to be in good shape judging by Raymond Felton’s comments after last night home loss to the Houston Rockets.

“He’s been looking real good,” said Raymond Felton, who had eight points and seven assists. “We’ve been taking advantage of him at the center spot right now, and centers can’t guard him on the perimeter. . . . That’s been working for us.”

Another interesting wrinkle to the Andrea Bargnani saga is the fact that the notoriously bad defender has actually been playing solid defense since taking over the center spot for the injured Tyson Chandler.  Evident by his tough play on Dwight Howard throughout last nights game.

“He’s very physical so I just tried to play the best defense I could, that’s all you can do against Dwight.”

Due to the fact that opposing centers are being forced out of the paint to account for Bargnani’s mid-range jumper, I believe his impact on the Knicks offense has already been more than anyone could have hoped for prior to the season. Perhaps after a grueling, injury plagued final two years in Toronto Bargnani has finally found a home.  At least one would hope. Because like it or not, a lot of the Knicks success this season is going to depend on just how effective Bargnani can be.

Up until now – so far, so good.

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