Billy King and the Brooklyn Nets believe that they had finally found a good big man backup for Brook Lopez since the departure of Andray Blatche to China last year.
Many fans enjoyed watching Blatche play, especially when he was scoring 11.2 points per game on 47.6% shooting. He was an exceptional free throw shooter and rebounder, shooting 74% from the stripe and pulling in 5.3 rebounds respectively.
The thing that was really exceptional about Blatche was that he performed so well for someone who was having their second chance with an NBA team. He underperformed for the Washington Wizards from 2005-2012, but picked his performance up for the Nets. Now Brooklyn has come to believe that they have their new comeback man in Barclays Center.
Andrea Bargnani has proven himself to be an absolute bust as he was drafted first overall in 2006, ahead of LaMarcus Aldridge, Rudy Gay, and J.J. Redick.
This summer both Bargnani and Aldridge changed teams and at this point it is obvious which move made more headlines. The Toronto Raptor and New York Knick disappointment is getting a second (third really) chance in the same city he played in previously.
As a Knick he played only 71 games, which is a whopping 43% of what he could have possibly played. That is unacceptable for a player who was paid as much as he was, but now he is making just a fraction of that across the bridge in Brooklyn.
The Nets were interested in bringing Blatche back to his old team, while the Miami Heat and Memphis Grizzlies also pursued him, but every team came to be disappointed when he signed a three-year deal in China. He averaged off the chart numbers in China, which he wouldn’t have even come close to in Brooklyn with about 30 points, 15 rebounds, and 5 assists per game. He did not even average half of that in Brooklyn as the NBA is a much harder league to succeed in.
However, is the former number one pick someone comparable to Blatche?
The new big man is an inch taller than Blatche and weighs ten pounds less so he can cause more mismatches with his size and speed. He is a much better shooter from outside being a 30% 3-point shooter compared to the 23% 3-point shooter Blatche was. Blatche, however played more than double the amount of games that Bargnani did, while they both only spent two years in their respective New York franchises.
Blatche was a muscle in the paint, a powerful post-up and box-out backup center for the Nets. Bargnani’s game is much different than that of Blatche. He has had a poor inside game, like the famous missed dunk attempt against the rebuilding 76ers. He is a shooting big man who is known to space the floor more. Blatche also averaged 1.7 steals per 36 minutes which is more than double of what Bargnani could, but other than that they put up similar numbers with points and on the boards.
Bargnani has been labeled “soft” skipping practices, being injury prone, and avoiding contact, but this new scenery may spark a change in him. There is a lot less pressure on the big man from Italy and just like Blatche leaving the Wizards, he is coming off adversity to possibly recreate his label.
Their game is not similar, their situations are practically identical. So fans hope that Bargnani will be a success in Brooklyn as a backup, so that Andrea Bargnani and Andray Blatche will have more in common than just initials.