Every off-season there is a flurry of action that results in major player movement as teams start to position themselves to make a run at a championship. This year it was the Brooklyn Nets bringing in the trio of Garnett, Terry and Pierce that got all the hoopla, but in my opinion the most overlooked move this off-season was the Knicks trading for PF/C, Andrea Bargnani.
On paper the Knicks brought in a nice complimentary player who averaged 12.7ppg last season, but the reality is Bargnani is a potential match-up nightmare for opposing teams. A true seven footer capable of scoring from anywhere on the floor, Bargnani, unlike his predecessor Steve Novak, is much more than a spot-up shooter. He has averaged as much as 20ppg in this league, a very big accomplishment. Many teams have continued to view him as a viable offensive threat. A threat who could punish smaller defenders in the post, a threat who could draw bigger defenders away from the basket, and most importantly, a threat who has the ability to put the ball on the floor and create for himself and his teammates.
The beauty of having a weapon such as Bargnani is that his skill set at the center position will force opposing coaches to make tough decisions. Similar to the decisions Frank Vogel was faced with regarding Roy Hibbert’s ability to guard Chris Bosh on the perimeter during the Eastern Conference Finals. As good as Noah and Hibbert are, their effectiveness comes from protecting the rim, with Bargnani the Knicks can take that away unlike last season. Last season the Knicks had no such player, resulting in Roy Hibbert dominating, resulting in the team going win-less against the Chicago Bulls.
Now, we all know Bargnani will never be a great defensive player, but quite frankly he isn’t here for that purpose. He’s here to spread the floor, make three’s, and rebound a bit, but most importantly, become the reliable 2nd scoring option to Carmelo Anthony an option we have not had in the Melo era. If he can remain healthy, something that has been an issue the past two seasons, then the Knicks might indeed have the pieces in place to upend the Miami Heat and finally put an end to the 40-year championship drought.