When the New York Knicks traded for Andrea Bargnani they envisioned another offensive weapon and a stretch four who could open up the floors for others and create additional spacing in the key. However, to say he's had injury problems in his career would be a gross understatement. Now that he's been diagnosed with pneumonia, Bargnani needs to make his opportunity with the Knicks a priority over playing for Italy in Eurobasket.
The New York Knicks are hoping Andrea Bargnani will be more than just an additional expiring contract in two years. He was once a 20 point per game scorer and although the Knicks don't need that from him they do feel he can help the team tremendously on the offensive end.
Bargnani isn't the type of big man who is going to show a dominant low-post game or rebound at a high rate. He's much more of a finesse player than he is a physical one. That being said, he's only been able to play a combined 66 games over the past two seasons. The Knicks need him to play. He doesn't have to be the main focal point like he was as a member of the Toronto Raptors but he does need to be on the court.
Recently, Bargnani was diagnosed with pneumonia. While it's both clear and admirable that he'd like to play for Italy and represent his country in Eurobasket, the New York Knicks need to be his priority. Bargnani has skills but he's at a crossroads in his career where he has to prove his worth to the NBA as a whole.
Woody is not sure if Bargnani will play with the Italian National Team. "WeÃ??Ã?Â¢??ve got to be cautious of that and make sure we nurse him back."— Ian Begley (@IanBegley) August 14, 2013
There is very little doubt that the 27-year-old power forward will be closely monitored and receive pressure from Mike Woodson, the rest of the coaching staff as well as the Knicks' front office. That could very well mean having to avoid playing for Italy in Eurobasket.
Bargnani was taken first overall by Toronto in the 2006 NBA Draft. He's is 7'0" tall and weighs in at 256 pounds. He was named to the NBA All-Rookie First Team in 2007 and has averaged 15.2 points, 0.9 blocks, 0.4 steals, 1.3 assists and 4.8 rebounds over 30.3 minutes in 433 games as a Raptor. That being said, he's known to be a bit passive and has a reputation as a brittle player which are two labels he and the Knicks would like to see him shed in his time in New York.
The bottom line is the Knicks having an impressive 2012-13 season where they won 54 games, secured the second seed in the Eastern Conference and was able to reach the Eastern Conference semifinals. However, repeating that feat will be very challenging.
Nearly every team in the East has improved this off-season. Teams especially requiring attention are the Brooklyn Nets, Miami Heat, Chicago Bulls and Indiana Pacers. While the Knicks were able to keep J.R. Smith and Pablo Prigioni, draft Tim Hardaway Jr. and add Jeremy Tyler and Metta World Peace, it's Bargnani that will have an opportunity to grab minutes away from fellow brittle forward Amare Stoudemire.
It's up to Bargnani to show some maturity and prioritize his performance in the NBA as compared to playing for Italy in Eurobasket. Healthy, there's no reason why Bargnani can't give the Knicks a new dimension and another weapon for opponents to deal with.
It's more than understandable when a player wants the honor of representing their country. Bargnani is clearly one of the best players around who could suit up for Italy. That being said, Bargnani is being given a second chance in his NBA career. No longer is he playing in Toronto where they know they have no shot before the season begins.
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