In the new era of NBA fandom science, it seems, is king.
Pick a blog, or a basketball-related website. There will, undoubtedly, be numerous posts, using the latest metrics and numbers to describe and rank players. From John Hollinger to 82games.com, the landscape of NBA writing has changed. And with it, so have the fans.
We're more tech-savvy now. We can understand more complicated statistics than our ancestors. Per game measures you say, we scoff at such trifles. Ours is a world where every moment is accounted for. We are the NBA economists.
Economics is all about efficiency. It's the science of being cheap. If I can buy a bushel of corn for $4.00 from one farmer, or pay just $2.00 down the road, naturally I choose the latter. If I can choose between a player who shoots 38% from the floor, and one who shoots 48%, again I choose the latter. And, if my starting centre averages 6.8 rebounds per 40 minutes--
Sorry, I just threw up in my mouth a little bit.
This is our problem. And it's one that's been beaten, kicked and pistol-whipped more than halfway to death. Our centre doesn't rebound. He tries, but he's no good at it. He jumps -- arms raised -- towards a falling basketball; but there's always someone else who jumps higher, or with better timing, or who simply pokes the ball out of Il Mago's soft hands.
Perhaps we just need to accept it. Andrea Bargnani is like our teenaged son turned goth. Sure it might bother us. We can all hope that it's just a phase, and that better days are ahead. But every morning while we drink our coffee, Andrea comes down the stairs: still with his nail polish, still with his mascara, still with a perpetual scowl.
Andrea Bargnani isn't particularly efficient. At least, not as far as his movements are concerned. While his shooting percentages have gone up and his turnovers have gone down, there has always been something unnaturally elegant about the way that he plays. From his one-dribble, pull-up jumper, to his curling finger-roll -- the big Italian moves with an uncommon grace. It's luxurious. His movements are so clean and fluid that they appear almost wasteful.
Andrea's been buying $4.00 corn. And that's what makes him so fun to watch.
But when a missed shot bounces off of the rim there is no time for luxury. Sure, he can make a twenty foot jump shot look like a pirouette, but you have to get the ball before you can shoot.
The very thing that makes Andrea Bargnani so good at basketball, is the very thing that makes him, um, bad.
They say rebounding is all about the dirty work. A player has to be quick, decisive, even ruthless in his pursuit of the basketball. I don't know if we'll ever see those qualities out of Andrea, but as long as he keeps pulling moves like this, I'm willing to accept him for who he is.