Canada gets a present on its birthday

The New York Knicks' saviour (Image credit: ans4 / RealGM)

The New York Knicks’ saviour (Image credit: ans4 / RealGM)

 

There have been many trades and signings reported since the NBA’s free agency period began on July 1st. But since these transactions can’t be officially finalized until July 10th, we will wait until then before we start analyzing them.

But there is one player that I want to talk about before we get to that point: Andrea Bargnani.

It has been widely reported that the New York Knicks have acquired Bargnani in exchange for Marcus Camby, Steve Novak, Quentin Richardson, a 2016 first round pick, and second round picks in 2014 and 2017.

Some Knicks fans are happy with the trade. Bargnani is a “scorer”, a former #1 overall pick, and a 7-footer who can “stretch the defense”. Players like him don’t come along too often!

Very, very true.

Unfortunately for the Knicks, Bargnani’s impact will likely be somewhat less than positive. During his seven years in Toronto, Bargnani was the least productive starter in modern NBA history. He’s been so unproductive that, over the last three seasons, his lack of playing time (due to injuries) has actually increased his production. After all, less of a negative is a positive.

Because we’ve written about Bargnani’s poor performance several times over the years, instead of posting his individual numbers and talking about his weaknesses (a cursory look at his stats tells us that he has no strengths), I’d like to freshen it up and look at his performance from another angle.

How does Bargnani compare to other 2006 lottery picks?

After seven years of terrible stats and poor team performance, some people still believe that he can be productive. Zarar Siddiqi of Raptor’s Republic had this to say about Bargnani:

Much like the 2013 draft, there was no consensus #1 pick that year, but the passage of time ensures that few remember that. In hindsight, Bargnani was no worse than the third-best player in the lottery that year, which is no shame in itself.

Very interesting statement. I wonder how Siddiqi came to that conclusion?

Pick Player PTS PTS Rank PPG PPG Rank
2 LaMarcus Aldridge 9298 1 18.3 2
8 Rudy Gay 9205 2 18 3
1 Andrea Bargnani 6581 3 15.2 4
6 Brandon Roy 6136 4 18.8 1
7 Randy Foye 5395 5 11.5 5
11 J.J. Redick 4006 6 9.4 6
14 Ronnie Brewer 3933 7 8.2 7
4 Tyrus Thomas 3089 8 7.7 8
13 Thabo Sefolosha 2815 9 5.7 10
5 Shelden Williams 1618 10 4.5 11
3 Adam Morrison 1200 11 7.5 9
12 Hilton Armstrong 855 12 3.1 12
9 Patrick O’Bryant 186 13 2.1 15
15 Cedric Simmons 163 14 2.2 13
10 Mouhamed Sene 103 15 2.2 13

When sorted by total points scored, Bargnani does end up being ranked third. Fans, coaches, and even GMs overwhelmingly use points as a way to measure player performance. But scoring points is just one aspect of basketball. Basketball players must gain and keep possession of the ball, as well as score their points efficiently — something that we can’t determine if we only look at total points scored or points per game.

And that is why we use Wins Produced. The Wins Produced calculation takes all the contributions that are recorded in the boxscore and turns it into a number that relates back to wins created and lost. An average player produces 0.100 wins per 48 minutes (WP48).

When we rank the careers of these 15 players using Wins Produced, Bargnani fares no better than 14th:

Pk Player WP48 WP48 Rank Wins Produced Wins Produced Rank
14 Ronnie Brewer 0.210 1 49.8 1
13 Thabo Sefolosha 0.178 2 41.8 2
6 Brandon Roy 0.154 3 37.2 3
11 J.J. Redick 0.121 4 23.8 6
2 LaMarcus Aldridge 0.098 5 36.8 4
5 Shelden Williams 0.098 6 11.4 8
8 Rudy Gay 0.075 7 29.0 5
4 Tyrus Thomas 0.067 8 11.1 9
7 Randy Foye 0.044 9 11.6 7
10 Mouhamed Sene 0.037 10 0.2 10
12 Hilton Armstrong -0.006 11 -0.4 11
15 Cedric Simmons -0.034 12 -0.5 12
9 Patrick O’Bryant -0.064 13 -0.7 13
1 Andrea Bargnani -0.082 14 -22.3 15
3 Adam Morrison -0.113 15 -7.7 14

And remember, those are only the players who were taken in the lottery, which doesn’t include players like Rajon Rondo (#21), Paul Millsap (#47), and Kyle Lowry (#24). The only 2006 lottery pick who was clearly less productive than Bargnani was Adam Morrison; had the Raptors selected Morrison instead of Bargnani, it’s very likely that the Raptors would have been better off, as they wouldn’t have been stuck with a dead weight for seven years.

Now, there are those in the basketball community who don’t like using Wins Produced. For these people, I will also include tables with Win Shares and PER, although it should be noted that I do not endorse either metric. Win Shares is essentially Wins Produced, but with an even larger team adjustment (if you have complained about the team adjustment in the Wins Produced calculation, I hope you’ve noted this); PER is a clearly flawed metric that rewards players for taking shots even when they don’t go in the basket — exactly the type of metric that you would expect to boost Bargnani’s ranking. Yet not even PER agrees that Bargnani was one of the top 3 players of the 2006 lottery.

Win Shares:

Pk Player WS/48 WS/48 Rank Win Shares Win Shares Rank
6 Brandon Roy 0.155 1 37.4 2
2 LaMarcus Aldridge 0.142 2 53.3 1
14 Ronnie Brewer 0.128 3 30.4 4
11 J.J. Redick 0.128 3 25.2 5
13 Thabo Sefolosha 0.091 5 21.3 6
5 Shelden Williams 0.085 6 9.9 10
8 Rudy Gay 0.080 7 30.8 3
4 Tyrus Thomas 0.078 8 12.9 9
7 Randy Foye 0.065 9 17.3 7
1 Andrea Bargnani 0.059 10 16.3 8
10 Mouhamed Sene 0.052 11 0.3 13
12 Hilton Armstrong 0.052 11 3.6 11
9 Patrick O’Bryant 0.046 13 0.5 12
15 Cedric Simmons 0.005 14 0.1 14
3 Adam Morrison -0.021 15 -1.4 15

Win Shares ranks Bargnani as being the 10th most productive on a per-minute basis. He jumps to 8th in totals due to his large number of career minutes. His WS/48 of 0.059 is below the league average of 0.100.

PER:

Pk Player PER PER Rank
2 Brandon Roy 20.0 1
6 LaMarcus Aldridge 19.7 2
8 Rudy Gay 16.1 3
14 Tyrus Thomas 14.8 4
11 Ronnie Brewer 14.6 5
13 Andrea Bargnani 14.3 6
7 J.J. Redick 13.8 7
1 Mouhamed Sene 13.5 8
4 Randy Foye 12.9 9
5 Shelden Williams 12.5 10
12 Patrick O’Bryant 11.0 11
9 Thabo Sefolosha 10.9 12
10 Hilton Armstrong 9.6 13
15 Adam Morrison 7.4 14
3 Cedric Simmons 7.3 15

Even PER has Bargnani ranked 6th. Bargnani’s PER of 14.3 is below the league average of 15.

Verdict

As determined by three different metrics, Andrea Bargnani is a below-average NBA player. Being as optimistic as is humanly possible, Bargnani is no better than the 6th best player of the 2006 lottery picks; more realistically, he is in the 10-14 range. Furthermore, it is exceedingly rare for the lottery to have the top 15 players of a particular draft. This analysis excludes players taken outside of the lottery in 2006, including Rajon Rondo, Paul Millsap, and Kyle Lowry. We can’t even say that Bargnani is a top 10 player in his own draft class.

Good luck, New York! Toronto fans thank you for the lovely Canada Day gift!

- Devin

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