Subtraction by subtraction

It would be hard to overstate how bad a basketball player Andreas Bargnani is. Not compared to you or me, of course. But compared to almost anyone who might take the minutes that Bargnani would otherwise play, the Italian 7-footer simply and indisputably hurts your basketball team almost any time he is on the floor.

Because basketball analysis is still so spotty, and because whether a player can sometimes put up 20-plus points in a game serves as a substitute for even the most rudimentary analysis of performance and value, some people still don’t realize this about Bargnani.

Last week, Brendan Brown, who covers the Knicks for a living, told Mike Francesa that it would help to have Bargnani – who hasn’t played yet this year due to injury – back in the lineup for the struggling team. Francesa, of course, agreed.

So, let’s review:

– compared to the average center, Bargnani scores more points, is a better free throw shooter and hits a higher percentage of his threes than the typical big man (most don’t try to shoot them, of course).

– but in essentially every other way, Bargnani is worse, and in some cases, far worse than the *average* center. He is an awful rebounder; an inferior passer; a below average field goal shooter, even accounting for his increased number of threes; a poor shot blocker.

Add it all up, and whereas the average player has a Wins Produced score of .100 per 48 minutes, Bargnani is actually below zero. Whereas Knick’s center Samuel Dalembert, a good player but no one’s idea of a hall of famer, is responsible for a net of about 72 wins in his career, Bargnani has actually *cost* his team a net of 19 wins in his career.

He is simply, indisputably terrible even if, every few games, he hits some threes and racks up a decent point total. There is almost no player in the NBA who would contribute less to the Knicks winning than Bargnani does.

So, no, it won’t help to have him back. This is his ninth year in the NBA. He’s been terrible essentially since day one. Nothing is going to change that.

Did I mention that the Knicks are paying Bargs $11.5 million this year and gave up a first round draft choice to acquire him.

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