Bargnani as a first option on offense

With Bosh missing the last 3 games, I was expecting Bargnani to be the first option on offense. But this wasn’t the case, instead his scoring went slight down without Bosh. I am not sure it’s by design or it’s just a small sample size.

What I am interested in though is this: If Bosh leaves town after the season, can Bargnani become the #1 option?

We have to set certain criteria first when we talk about the first option on offense. Ideally, the first option can create a lot of shots, makes them or goes to the free throw line and doesn’t turn the ball over.

Statistically, this can be done. We have the usage rate, which would qualify as the amount of shots a player can create for himself and teammates. True Shooting percentage would include 2 point FG along with 3 point FG + free throws, and Turnover ratio would be the percentage of a player’s possession that results in turnovers.

Bargnani currently ranks 97th in usage rate, 10th as a center. He is 90th in shooting percentage in the league, but 27th overall as a center.
He has a turnover ratio of 8.2, which ranks 6th as a center.

What do these numbers mean?

Let’s look at the good things first. It’s definitely easier for a guard to have a higher usage rate, since they have the ball more and if they can’t pass the ball to the bigs, the bigs would never get a chance to create. So as a center, you are more dependent on a teammate to getting you the ball. Bargnani ranks 10th in terms of usage rate as a center.

Top 10 center in usage rate:
1. Tim Duncan
Chris Kaman (tie)
3. Shaq
4. Al Jefferson
5. Marreese Speights
6. David Lee
7. Andrew Bogut
8. Brook Lopez
9. Dwight Howard
10. Andrea Bargnani

However, most of the players ahead of Bargnani are #1 option on their teams. The only exceptions are: Shaq, and Marresse Speights. So Bargnani isn’t doing to badly in terms of shot creation.

What makes this better is that Bargnani doesn’t turnover the ball. Lots of players have low turnover ratio, because they never touch the ball. The best players in the game can create shots without turning the ball over. Michael Jordan did it throughout his career. Great players can create a bunch of shots but only turning over a few possessions. They waste little opportunities to score. While Bargnani is not a great shot creator, he is definitely a good one, and his low turnover ratio is definitely a plus. When you look at the center position, they only person who has a similar turnover ratio and usage rate are Tim Duncan and Al Jefferson.

Here comes the not so good news. Andrea’s true shooting percentage is mediocre. True shooting percentage includes 2 point Field Goal, 3 point Field Goal and Free throws made. Bargnani ranks 27th as a center. Traditionally, a center would shoot better percentage. Bargnani is not a true center though. He takes lots of his shots from a distance, and he doesn’t really get to the free throw line often enough.

If you just take these three ratios, the closet comparison would be OJ Mayo. Bargnani is better with TS% and turnover ratio, which makes him a better player. Other similar players
include Lou Williams and LaMarcus Aldridge. Aldridge would be the most similar big man, they have a similar offensive game. But neither Bargnani and Aldridge are ready to be the #1 option on offense.

Here is what Bargnani needs to do to become a #1 option:

Post up more. Bargnani does have a nice post game right now, he is 7 feet tall, so he can shoot over most players down low. It’s one thing if he doesn’t have the post game, but he does.

Strength and conditioning. This should be priority #1 in the off-season. If he gets stronger, he can get deeper post position, perhaps drive the basket harder. Also, he seems to look fatigue on the back-end of a back to back. Indeed, his stats line with 0 day rest is quite ugly. I am sure Bosh can find him the conditioning coach he needs.

Be more aggressive. Not sure if it’s his personality or not. he seems like a passive person who doesn’t force the issue. I would like to see him be more aggressive and show some leadership on the court. If the team needs a score, drive to the basket. He is quicker and more athletic than most bigs. Use your talent, don’t hide it.

For the Raptors to succeed in the future (with or without Bosh), they need Bargnani to continue his improvement. He has made a lot of strides so far, but I do think he can be even better. The Raptors and Bryan Colangelo really wants to prove to everyone that Bargnani is worthy of the # 1 pick.

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