Bargnani's troubles a concern for Knicks
October, 27, 2013
By Ian Begley | ESPNNewYork.com
AP Photo/The Canadian Press/Nathan DenetteIf Andrea Bargnani can't pick it up, what then?With Wednesday's opener rapidly approaching, there are plenty of questions surrounding the Knicks.
That's only natural.
But one of the biggest unknowns right now is a troubling one: when will new Knick Andrea Bargnani start to look like the secondary scoring option the Knicks thought they traded for in July?
"It's not going to happen overnight," Carmelo Anthony said on Saturday. "We had a preseason together. He's still getting his feet wet just as far as adjusting to New York. He's still trying to adjust to New York. As far as on the court with us, he's still trying to adjust to that and we're trying to adjust to him.
"It's not going to happen overnight but eventually the goal is to have it where everyone is clicking and everybody feels comfortable with one another."
Bargnani's looked far from comfortable in seven preseason games with the Knicks.
Of course, the preseason is the preseason. It's silly to draw any grand conclusions based on seven games featuring a multitude of players who won't be on the floor in the regular season.
But Bargnani's numbers are a bit of a concern for the Knicks coaching staff.
The seven-footer finished the preseason shooting just 38 percent from the field (24-for-63). He missed 12 of his 15 3-point attempts.
Plus-minus rating in the preseason can be misleading because of the different lineups and personnel groupings that coaches experiment with.
But Bargnani's wasn't good.
New York was outscored by 65 points with Bargnani on the floor in the preseason. Bargnani was a "minus" in six of his seven games. He also pulled down 4.7 rebounds per 36 minutes (not great for a seven-footer).
Mike Woodson said on Saturday that his big-ticket acquisition was still adjusting on both ends of the floor.
"And he’s learning his teammates. We got a set of new faces this season that we like, but again, everybody’s got to get adjusted to one another," Woodson said.
The coach would like to start the season with a traditional lineup featuring Bargnani at power forward and Anthony at small forward. But he hinted on Saturday that he wouldn't hesitate to switch things up if that lineup doesn't produce. That could mean inserting Metta World Peace in the starting unit and bringing Bargnani in off the bench.
"I’ll experiment with it, but I’ve got options this year, guys. I mean, I can always go small with melo at the 4, with small teams. And throw Bargnani in there when we got big teams," Woodson said. "Again, it’s not a matter of who starts. It’s what you do with the minutes that you’re in there, and that’s kind of the message I’m sending everybody on this team. You’ve got to give productive minutes when you’re on the floor if you want to play."
When thinking about Bargnani's production, it's important to remember that he spent a month confined to his bed in the offseason, plagued by pneumonia.
The illness kept him from competing with the Italian National Team in Eurobasket in September. It also left him a bit out of basketball shape heading into training camp.
Bargnani admitted on Saturday that he's still playing his way into shape.
"I've still got to get better, of course. Once you stay 30 days without doing anything, I never had that in my life," Bargnani said.
And that should be taken into account. But what's most troubling for the Knicks is Bargnani's cold shooting from the perimeter.
When New York sent two players and three draft picks (including a 2016 first-rounder) to Toronto for Bargnani, the front office envisioned getting a player who could stretch the floor with his shooting. But Bargnani shot just 38 percent on attempts from 15 feet and out (13-for-34).
Anthony, for what it's worth, thinks Bargnani is still getting adjusted to life in a Knicks uniform. But how long will the grace period will be for Bargnani among the team's impatient fan base?
"He's not going to adjust to the New York style, the New York way of living, overnight. So I'm not asking for people to be patient with him but as his teammates we're very patient with him," Anthony said.
QUESTION: How patient will you be with Bargnani? If he struggles for the first month of the season, do you think he will get booed?
You can follow Ian Begley on Twitter.
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