Were the Toronto Raptors better in 2012-13 without Andrea Bargnani?
While Toronto Raptors fans may have been upset that Andrea Bargnani played in only 35 games last year, the Raptors had a winning record in 2012-13 when Bargnani was on the bench. From analyzing Bargnani’s game log on ESPN’s website, the Raptors had a 10-25 record in 2012-13 when Bargnani was in the lineup, but were 24-23 when he didn’t play.Associated Press
A further analysis of Raptors’ 2012-13 box scores and statistics and Bargnani’s 2012-13 statistics on the ESPN website show some possible reasons for this disparity. While Bargnani had the third-highest points per game average of 12.7 for the Raptors last season, he had a field goal percentage of only .399, which was only the 13th highest last season for the Raptors. He also failed to score in three games he played in during the 2012-13 season. Despite being only 13th on the team in field goal percentage, Bargnani was third in field goals attempted with 12.2 per game. Therefore, the Raptors might have been better off having Bargnani take fewer attempts and let other players with higher field goal percentages take more shots. An example from last season is the Raptors’ 111-106 2OT loss to the San Antonio Spurs. Bargnani shot 2-19 from the floor in the contest, while two other players shot over .500 in the game. Jonas Valanciunas shot 9-13, and Ed Davis shot 7-11 from the floor.
Bargnani also was a liability as far as rebounding was concerned with his average of 3.7 rpg, which was eighth best for the Raptors last year. The Raptors’ box scores from the 2012-13 season show that in the 35 games that Bargnani played in 2012-13, the Raptors outrebounded their opponent in only seven of those. In contrast, the Raptors outrebounded their opponent in 22 of the 47 games in which Bargnani didn’t play and tied their opponents’ rebounding total in four other games.
The absence of Bargnani from the Raptors’ lineup also allowed Amir Johnson and Jonas Valanciunas to evolve and contribute more to the team. Johnson, who has career 6.8 ppg and 5.5 rpg averages, turned in his best season of his 8-year career with 10.0 ppg and a team-leading 7.5 rpg for the 2012-13 season. After Bargnani played his final game of the 2012-13 season on Mar. 8, Valanciunas scored in double figures in 15 of 17 games. Prior to Mar. 8, Valanciunas scored in double figures in 13 of 45 games. Also, both Valanciunas and Johnson had better field goal percentages than Bargnani had in 2012-13. Valanciunas shot .557 from the field, while Johnson shot .554.
Since Rudy Gay joined the Raptors on Feb. 1, 2013, one might ask if Gay’s presence on the team was the reason for the Raptors having a winning record without Bargnani. At best, the addition of Gay to the Raptors was only part of the reason the Raptors were a winning team without Bargnani.
There were two periods of the 2012-13 season when Bargnani didn’t play. The first of those was between Dec. 12 and Feb. 3, and that period included only two games in which Gay played. The Raptors had a record of 13-14 through that stretch and were 1-1 in the games in which Gay played. During that stretch alone, the Raptors won three more games than they did in the 35 games in which Bargnani played. The second period Bargnani was out with injury was from Mar. 10 until the end of the season. During that stretch, the Raptors were 9-8 in games in which Gay played. Gay missed the Mar. 10 game against the Cleveland Cavaliers and the Mar. 23 game against the New York Knicks because of a back issues.
During the 13 games Gay and Bargnani played together between Feb. 6 and Mar. 8, the Raptors were 6-7, and Bargnani failed to score in three games during this period. He also started in only four games during that period, and the Raptors had a 1-3 record for those games.
Another question one might have is since only 13 of the 35 games in which Bargnani played were at home, that might have weighed into the Raptors’ record in the games Bargnani played in last season. However, the Raptors were 5-8 (.385) at home and 5-17 (.227) away when Bargnani played and 16-13 (.552) at home and 8-10 (.444) when he wasn’t in the lineup.
The win-loss record that the Raptors had without Bargnani in 2012-13 should give hope to their fans that the 2013-14 season could be a better one for the team.
By: Deb Considine: Pass the Pill Contributor