Sure, it barely took New York Knicks fans a quarter to begin booing little-loved offseason trade acquisition Andrea Bargnani, but when you start hearing jeers all of four shots into your Big Apple career, things can only improve, right?
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Baseline throwdown whiff aside, there were some positives for Bargnani in the Knicks' 109-100 Sunday loss to the Minnesota Timberwolves; he scored 14 points on 6 for 10 shooting, making two of his four 3-point tries, in 19 minutes of burn. That nice shooting line didn't mask the overall problems the Knicks face with Bargnani on the floor, though — namely porous defense (the starting lineup of Bargnani, Carmelo Anthony, Tyson Chandler, Iman Shumpert and Raymond Felton gave up 33 points to the Timberwolves in 13 minutes of floor time) and stagnant offense (39 percent shooting from the field, five turnovers against four assists). That five-man unit has been outscored by 15 points in 24 total minutes on the season, which ain't good; it has allowed opposing offenses to score an average of 132.9 points per 100 possessions, which makes them roughly equivalent to a team of sixth-graders attempting to defend an NBA offense.
The Bargs damage isn't limited to just Mike Woodson's "big" lineup, either. All told, through three games, the Knicks are outscoring opponents by nearly 18 points per 100 possessions when the former No. 1 overall pick is on the bench, and are being outscored by a staggering 25.7 points per 100 possessions (by 31 points in 61 minutes overall) when he's on the floor. By comparison, the Anthony-Chandler-Shumpert-Felton quartet with Pablo Prigioni in the lineup is outscoring opponents by 27.8 points-per-100 in 31 minutes so far. The sample sizes are super-small and there's a lot of basketball yet to be played, but it's worth noting (as I did in our Knicks season preview) that two-point-guard lineups and starting units featuring Prigioni were fantastic last year, too. Maybe something to think about, Coach Woodson.
In the meantime, we'll hope that Bargnani hangs in there and finds steadier footing ... or, failing that, that he continues to slip up in ways as funny as air-balled dunks.
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