One question that has been floating around the streets of Toronto is whether the Raptors are better with or without Andrea Bargnani.
The record says yes as the Raptors are a meagre 4-17 with Andrea Bargnani in the lineup while they have recorded eight wins in 10 contests without his services.
So the record says yes but do the numbers back up the win-loss totals in the standings?
Here is the evidence:
1. His numbers are down across the board this season.
But in a vacuum, these individual statistics can be deceiving. So…..
2. He has a negative on/off court rating.
Both the Raptors’ offense and defense appear to be better with Bargnani off the floor. But…
3. What if we adjust for the strength of opposing lineups and the players Bargnani is playing with?
Source: Advanced Statistical Plus Minus
Bargnani is well behind Ed Davis and Amir Johnson on both ends of the floor. But…
4. Kyle Lowry was out for many of those games as well. Shouldn’t he share the blame?
Yes, the Raptors are 5-14 without Lowry — a better record than without Bargnani, but only marginally so. The team is 3-0 with Lowry when Bargnani is not playing.
And, if we look at advanced statistical plus minus again:
The chart suggests Lowry is an important contributor on both ends of the floor for the Raptors. He also leads the team (tied with Ed Davis) in Win Shares per 48 minutes and Player Efficiency Rating (PER) — where he is 21st in the league. His offensive rating is 113 versus Bargnani’s 94. His defensive rating is 104 versus Bargnani’s 110.
Its difficult to find a metric that suggests Lowry’s been the issue over Bargnani.
5. What about the schedule?
With Bargnani in the lineup, the Raptors have played teams with a combined record of 362-346 (win percentage of 51 per cent). With Bargnani out of the lineup, the Raptors have played against teams with a combined winning percentage of… you guessed it: 51 per cent.
The simple rating system also helps paint a picture. The Raptors are winning against stronger opponents (on average) without Bargnani in the lineup. The losses have been against very strong opponents (SRS of 4.7).
You may have come up with an issue with the data above. It does not account for home versus away games. The Raptors played 15 games on the road with Bargnani in the lineup and only seven at home. Over the years, NBA teams win a little over 60 percent of their home games and thus home-court advantage exists. So, we could certainly argue the schedule was more difficult with Bargnani in the lineup. But on can also argue it was not that much more difficult as the table above reveals.
It certainly appears the Raptors are better without Bargnani.