Andrea Bargnani’s Health Leaves Nets with Questions as Season Looms

The Brooklyn Nets’ most high-profile acquisition this off season is, without a doubt, Andrea Bargnani. But don’t let my anointing him the team’s ‘most high profile acquisition’ fool you as he was competing with role players like Wayne Ellington and Thomas Robinson. Despite being perhaps the most talented acquisition, Bargnani is beginning the season as he typically does: injured.

The 7-foot Italian hasn’t suited up for a game all preseason for the Nets as he has suffered from a hamstring injury, which is the same hamstring that caused him to miss most of the first month of last season. The ‘Andrea Bargnani Era’ in Brooklyn seems to be starting off on the wrong foot, per usual.

The 2006 first overall pick in the NBA Draft hasn’t played more than 42 games in a season since the ’10-’11 campaign. Since then Bargnani has suffered from a thumb injury, multiple elbow ailments, recurring calf issues, and now is tending to his re-injured hamstring.

Brooklyn knew all about his injury plagued history when they signed him but the Nets had missed out on most other scoring big men by mid-July and still needed someone who can put up points off the bench. Andrea Bargnani was seen as that man by the Nets front office.

Good news was passed along on Wednesday when ESPN’s Mike Mazzeo confirmed that Bargnani, along with Markel Brown, did indeed practice in non-contact drills with the team for the first time in a few weeks. This at least gives the Nets some form of optimism that he will be ready for opening night, but the big man has expressed doubts in recent interviews with the media when discussing his availability for opening night against the Chicago Bulls.

In theory, the Bargnani signing makes a lot of sense based on the way he plays as a stretch four, taking on a similar role to which Mirza Teletovic has in recent years for the Nets. Bargnani will likely find himself playing alongside Lopez to run an inside-outside offense when they are on the floor together, but when he comes off the bench the offense will likely flow through him. The issue is always health with Bargnani, which has derailed each of his last four seasons. Suffering from a hamstring injury to start the season is not a promising start.

The team resigned injury-prone Brook Lopez to try and keep the roster somewhat competitive as they rebuild and get younger. The signing of an even thinner piece of glass in Bargnani will likely not go into the history books as one of Billy King’s most clever moves as he is expected to be a major contributor to the teams frontcourt depth.

With Andrea Bargnani being in and out of the lineup all season due to health issues being a likely reality, the Brooklyn Nets may be a Brook Lopez injury away from an implosion that may result in the Nets being among the worst teams in basketball, but without the reward of receiving a lottery pick.