Let me start off with a little comparison that has just struck me, and may do the same for fellow Raptor fans.
Andrea Bargnani's game (08-09) at times reminds me of Donyell Marshall in his second season (04-05) when we stuck him at the 3pt line in the corner (though Bargnani seems to prefer the long 3). Bargnani is clearly the more talented player offensively, but they duplicate two key similarities - great outside shot along with the ability to play C defensively.
We'll start off with a comparison of the two players.
Shot Selection (Jump/Close/Dunk/Tip)
- Marshall: 75 / 18 / 5 / 2 (61% 3PA, 15 FTA/100 FGA)
- Bargnani: 75 / 19 / 5 / 1 (30% 3PA, 28 FTA/100 FGA)
Almost exactly the same types of shot selection, though Bargnani takes half as many 3s (more 2pt jumpers) and makes it to the line twice as often as Marshall.
Scoring & Shooting Efficiency: Pts/36, FG/36, 3P%, eFG%, TS%
- Marshall: 16.3, 13.0, .416, .570, .591
- Bargnani: 17.6, 14.1, .409, .513, .559
Both shoot and score quite similar amounts, Donyell more efficiently due to his extremely high proportion of 3 point shooting. Of note is that Bargnani is already a rather efficient scorer.
Rebounding: Off. Reb %, Def. Reb %, Tot. Reb %
- Marshall: 6.4%, 23.3%, 14.7%
- Bargnani: 3.4%, 16.4%, 10.0%
Donyell, better across the board.
Other: Ast %, TO %, BLK/36, STL/36
- Marshall: 8.4%, 6.2%, 1.0, 1.2
- Bargnani: 6.4%, 11.2%, 1.4, 0.5
Surprisingly, Donyell has a higher assist % (likely because of Andrea's tendency to shoot than pass and the old Raptors' system which emphasized swinging the ball around the 3pt line - not because of any superior passing skill). He has a much lower turnover % which should occur he was primarily deployed as a spot up shooter compared with Bargnani occassionally catching the ball within the arc and being asked to create. In the defensive stats, we see Marshall with quicker hands and Bargnani as the bigger shotblocking threat.
The similarities are striking between the two. If Andrea manages to shore up his rebounding and defense, he should easily be able to provide what Donyell did that season, and even more if he makes a major leap.
I would propose that the Raptors limit Bargnani's offensive role this season for two reasons:
- Bargnani should most often be sent to spot up at the 3 pt line, and used frequently as his shot is essentially unblockable. This can be an unbelievably simple and incredibly effective way to score points, as Donyell proved (jog slowly up court and take a handoff from the PG, or just spot up and wait). The best offenses do not necessarily gather the most talented offensive players overall. They gather the most efficient offensive players who fit together (ex. Nash, Stoudemire, Allen, Gasol, younger Shaq). We have an opportunity to turn Bargnani from an efficient scorer into an incredibly efficient scorer here! More points on less or the same amount of shots.
- There is no point in taking shots away from Bosh (.569 TS%) to give to Bargnani (.559 TS%). Perhaps you could take some of Turkoglu's (.541 TS%), but we didn't bring Hedo here to defer and I don't expect him to. It reasons that our best option is to replace Bargnani's regular variety of shots (.559 TS%) largely with his more effective 3pt shot (.614 eFG%) but eliminating the long 2s. This will also decrease his turnover rate. This may also help Calderon get more shots off the ball, where he is incredibly deadly (.613 TS%).
- You can also make the case that the floor spacing will allow Bosh and Turkoglu to be more effective. To what extent the positive effect will be is unknown, but it should be there. A more clogged perimeter should force Bosh to drive instead of taking long jumpers, plus less defensive help inside should help him pick up more of those ticky-tack reach-in fouls he is good at drawing. Turkoglu should get cleaner looks on his pullups once he gets the step on his man but should probably be put on the side opposite from Bargnani. He has a tendency to overhandle even when staring down multiple defenders.
- Most importantly, in the long-term we need Bargnani to develop into a competent rebounder/defender. These two skills are largely effort-based. We need to instill the necessary work-habits in Bargnani immediately and have him learn the fundamentals and nuances of his position. These will carry over into future seasons and make him a much less flawed player. This will also make our GM's job easier as we will not need to compensate for his shortcomings. Andrea will still has plenty of time to become a dynamic offensive threat as he is locked up for 5 more years beyond this one.
Becoming more efficient offensively is our ticket to becoming an elite offense. This means getting all 5 players on the court taking shots that they can drain with regularity, whether they are dunks, layups, free throws, or 3 pointers. There are only certain players who are able to reach incredibly efficient levels of scoring (this even excludes Kobe). The only two Raptors reasonably capable of putting up elite numbers in that area are Calderon and Bargnani.
Improved interior play + potentially elite offense? Sound good? Bad?