Andrea Bargnani Becoming the Player Amar'e Stoudemire Can't Be for NY Knicks

Jonathan WassermanNBA Lead WriterNovember 15, 2013

ATLANTA, GA - NOVEMBER 13:  Andrea Bargnani #77 of the New York Knicks reacts after hitting a three-point basket against Pero Antic #6 of the Atlanta Hawks at Philips Arena on November 13, 2013 in Atlanta, Georgia.  NOTE TO USER: User expressly acknowledges and agrees that, by downloading and or using this photograph, User is consenting to the terms and conditions of the Getty Images License Agreement.  (Photo by Kevin C. Cox/Getty Images)
Kevin C. Cox/Getty Images

Hey, this Andrea Bargnani fella has looked pretty good lately, huh?

I don't want to jinx that hot hand of his, but he's now up to 15 points per game on 51.6 percent shooting and 44 percent from downtown. 

And just like that, the Knicks have another scoring weapon to pair alongside Carmelo Anthony. 

The guy can make shots. Sure, he looks foolish at times on defense, and his awkward approach to the game makes him an easy target to pick on. 

But when the Knicks dealt Steve Novak, Marcus Camby and a future pick, they did so knowing they got the best player in the deal. 

And ya' know what? Had the Knicks not made that trade, they would have been in a load of trouble right now with Tyson Chandler going down early. In the four games that Chandler has been out, Bargnani has averaged 21 points on 53 percent shooting.

Considering that the Knicks' halftime T-shirt launcher has gotten more burn than Amar'e Stoudemire, Bargnani's production could be what keeps this team above water. 

I hate to do it to STAT, because it's just not his fault, but man—these numbers below are depressing: 

2013-14GamesField Goals MadeTurnoversSalary
Amar'e Stoudemire569$21,679,893


I threw salary in there because why not. 

The fact that Stoudemire has more turnovers than made baskets tells you all you need to know about where he's at and what he's offering. 

When healthy last season, STAT was actually productive for the Knicks. In 29 games, he averaged 14 points on 57 percent shooting. And now he's not. 

Instead, it's Bargnani who has emerged as a second or third option for New York. And it's a good thing, because there just aren't many other reliable scoring weapons to call on.

With him at the 5 and Anthony at the 4, these guys actually play off each other nicely, too. 

Bargnani's strength isn't shot-creating—it's shot-making. He's essentially in scoring position whenever he catches the ball, given his range and size that allows him to fire over the defense.

Though it's an argument for another time, the Bargnani-Anthony tandem actually works quite well when Chandler isn't on the floor. With opposing centers guarding Bargnani, very few are comfortable defending him out on the perimeter. 

And if the defense switches on the pick-and-pop, he's able to just shoot it right over the top. 

Nobody ever doubted Bargnani's scoring capabilities. He averaged 21 per game a few years ago. The challenge has been integrating him into the offense and figuring out how to maximize his strengths as an inside-outside 7-footer.

Consistency will really be the key with Bargnani. Can he knock down these mid-range jumpers and three-balls on a regular basis? The Knicks can't afford a frontcourt version of J.R. Smith, who can erupt one night and implode the next. 

Assuming that Stoudemire's days of 20-point games and highlight throwdowns are over, the Knicks will need Bargnani to replace him as an everyday scoring threat.

He's not an ideal second option for a team with championship aspirations, but he'll do for now. The Knicks just don't have anywhere else to look.