David West is one of the most thoughtful people in basketball, but his latest take, that Andrea Bargnani would be a dominant scoring force in the NBA if he played right now, is a bit surprising. But West was certain of it in an appearance on Basketball News’ NBA Finals Watch Party last week, and that the same was true of Chris Bosh.
Here’s West’s explanation:
“I thought about this the other day. When [Andrea] Bargnani and [Chris] Bosh were in Toronto, the reason why that sh** didn’t work is ’cause the NBA let us beat them up! We beat up Bargnani, they let us body Bosh.
“Like, Bosh and Bargnani right now, they would blow this NBA out of the water. They were damn near impossible to guard. I’m serious. The only reason Bargnani didn’t have a (successful) career was ’cause the referees let people like me beat him up!
“In today’s game, he would be killin’ because he would be protected. Ryan, you know, you remember — he would try that sweep at the three-point line; they wasn’t giving him that sh**, that rip-through. We could grab both arms.”
Now, it’s hard to say why West coupled Bosh, a perennial All-Star, two-time NBA champion, and potential Hall of Famer, alongside Bargnani, one of the biggest busts from the No. 1 pick slot in NBA history, but his point stands. We see many more slender scorers at forward these days than we did in the early 2010s, when these two were battling bigger bruisers inside.
At the same time, players like Dirk Nowitzki and LaMarcus Aldridge were able to succeed in the frontcourt despite less-than-elite athleticism, while many more athletic and strong scoring forwards like Michael Beasley and Derrick Williams failed to make good on their promise in the NBA despite matching up better with the old era of the league.
Still, as one of the only players who could match up with just about anyone on the inside because of his physicality and smarts, it’s not surprising West would be the one to make this observation.