Blueprint for Harrison Barnes to Get Career Back on Track Next Season

Harrison Barnes needs to find the blueprint to revive his young and promising career after spending much of last season at the lost and found.

Barnes was expected to take the next step after an impressive playoff run in his first NBA season. He transformed from an average starter during the regular season of his rookie campaign to a game-changer in the 2013 playoffs, partly as a result of the opportunity given him by David Lee’s injury in the first round of the postseason.

He posted a career playoff high of 26 points in a critical Game 4 overtime home victory against the San Antonio Spurs. In 12 postseason games in 2013, Barnes averaged 16.1 points and 6.4 rebounds.

As expectations started rising through the roof, Barnes was relegated to the sixth-man spot when the Dubs snagged free-agent wing Andre Iguodala.

As a result, the North Carolina product drastically underperformed this season. In 2013-14 season, Barnes averaged 9.5 points, 4.0 rebounds and 1.5 assists. He averaged almost three additional minutes more than he did in his rookie season, when he put up 9.2 points, 4.1 rebounds and 1.2 assists per game.

Barnes obviously has a few areas that he needs to improve to get his career back on track.

Shooting

Barnes’ shooting was one of his biggest hindrances this season, since his percentages dropped across the board. His field-goal percentage dove from 43.9 to 39.9 percent. His three-point percentage went from 35.9 to 34.7 percent, and his free-throw shooting fell from 75.8 to 71.8 percent.

He needs to work hard this summer by shooting the ball hundreds of times per day. He must find the spots on the floor and the go-to shots that work for him.

Yes, part of the decline was caused by being teamed with a bench that was unable to score consistently, and Barnes would occasionally force shots to compensate. The bench averaged only 28 points per game and posted a 41.0 percent shooting clip.

Confidence is the key to shooting, and Barnes needs to completely forget about last season. He still has a high upside, but it’s critical that early next season he focuses on taking (and making) high-percentage shots.

He also needs to work on his shots from behind the arc. His ability to hit the clutch three, like his teammate Draymond Green has demonstrated, will help space the floor and create driving lanes resulting in higher percentage shots closer to the hoop.

The bottom line is practice makes perfect, and Barnes needs to make shooting a high priority this offseason.

Dribbling

Barnes has already pointed out that he needs work on his handle this summer. 

With head coach Steve Kerr’s potential new offense so focused on ball movement and spacing, Barnes is going to need to improve on those vital skills, as noted by the San Jose Mercury News’ Diamond Leung.

Barnes will be tasked with being able to dribble in short spurts to facilitate a pass, drive to the hoop or create space for a transitioning teammate. By improving his ball-handling skills, Barnes can steer away from predictable moves that experienced and skilled defenders can sniff out.

He will also need to mix in some athletic moves, so that he doesn’t look like a robot.

Barnes’ needs to have the same mindset while handling the ball that he does going to the rack for the dunk. He looks fearless in those occasions. By looking for contact, Barnes should be able to approach doubling the paltry 2.3 free-throw attempts per game he averaged last year. He just needs to practice those free throws.

With a capable handle, Barnes can take the next step forward.

Learning How to Create

Barnes earned the “Black Falcon” nickname during a trip around the ESPN studios his senior year in high school. He cemented that nickname with his high-flying, rim-rocking jams in his first season. 

In his second season, Barnes still put up some highlight-reel moves but they were few and far between—at least when compared to the previous year.

Barnes is still going through the growing pains that often characterize the early stages of an NBA player’s career. But with the new offense, Barnes should have a lot more room to demonstrate his raw athleticism and skill level.

By improving in both of the aforementioned two areas, shooting and dribbling, Barnes should be able to put it all together on the offensive end. But, he needs to get more physical, so he can take the dribble and use his athletic frame to finish more convincingly around the basket.

Establishing consistency will be key to Barnes’ development on offense. He disappears too often and let’s his other teammates take over the game. Rather, Barnes needs to be a steady hand and be ready for a Stephen Curry pass or an Andrew Bogut kick-out. When he receives the ball, he must be assertive and drive into the lane and either finish or find another Warrior who has an open look.

Whether he is creating opportunities for himself or teammates, he needs to be productive every possession.

 

Bottom Line 

Barnes needs to take ownership of his future and the struggles that he had last season. He can’t dwell on the negatives but instead needs to turn those experiences into building blocks.

He has the word attached to him that no player entering his third season likes to hear: “potential.” Translated, it means Barnes hasn’t quite lived up to expectations based on his statistics and style of play. 

Coach Kerr’s offense is expected open a lot more opportunities for Barnes, but he has to take advantage of those chances. He needs to be a lot more aggressive on the court and not always allow the game to come to him.

He will have to learn how to succeed in coming off the bench or in whatever situation he is inserted. Being adaptable will show his teammates that he is fully invested in taking the next step in his maturation as a player.

Averages of 12.5 points, 5.1 rebounds and 1.8 assists would be a strong improvement next season, but he also has to show that he can consistently make the four other players on the court better when he plays.  An offense that relies on more options than just the “Splash Brothers” (Curry and Klay Thompson) is a lot more effective.

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

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Warriors’ Harrison Barnes Signs Carts Full of Fan Mail

Earlier this year, Harrison Barnes addressed his fans in a Facebook post saying he would sign autographs for free. 

The catch? You have to mail it to his P.O. box in Oakland and explain why you want it signed. And the fans responded. With carts and carts of mail. Well, Harrison, you got what you asked for. 

A great gesture by Barnes, but you have to wonder how long it will take him to sign all those items. 

[Golden State Warriors]

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What’s at stake for Rick Barnes and Texas in the NCAAs?

Texas takes on Arizona State in the NCAA tournament’s second round on Thursday.

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Damian Lillard Slams Backdoor Dunk over Harrison Barnes

Damian Lillard took advantage of a Golden State Warriors defense that was determined to deny a long-range attempt in the closing moments of a three-point game, beating Klay Thompson on a backdoor cut before unleashing a vicious righty spike on Harrison Barnes.

Lillard wound up with the poster, but the Dubs notched a critical 113-112 win in an ever-tightening Western Conference race.

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Matt Barnes Thinks Greg Stiemsma Deserved to Get Punched by O.J. Mayo

Milwaukee Bucks guard,O.J. Mayo was suspended for one game on Saturday for “forcibly striking” New Orleans Pelicans big man Greg Stiemsma during Friday night’s contest, per Sports Illustrated‘s Chris Mannix.

This should mark the end of a brief—but ugly—incident. Fights occasionally happen, the league steps in, metes out punishment, and everyone involved moves on.

But it seems that no NBA altercation is finished until Los Angeles Clippers wing Matt Barnes has his say. The controversial small forward took to Twitter to comment on a game he wasn’t involved in, stirring up a hornet’s nest by saying Stiemsma probably deserved a punch:

Incredible.

Let this be a lesson to everyone on social media: If you’re about to begin a comment with the words, “Without looking at it, I think…,” please delete said comment immediately.

For those of you who are interested in actually looking at it, here’s a video of the incident in question:

Shockingly, Mayo—the perpetrator of the incident in question—showed far more remorse than Barnes. After the game, Mayo sounded genuinely sorry for losing control and acting in such an unprofessional manner, according to Charles Gardner of the Milwaukee Journal:

Of course, Barnes has some history of his own with Stiemsma. Per Sports Illustrated’s Ben e was assessed a flagrant 2 foul and ejected last season from a game for shoving Stiemsma (then a member of the Minnesota Timberwolves) in the throat. Why does everybody feel the need to hit this guy in the throat?

If Barnes is suspended, it won’t be the first time this season. He was punished earlier in the season for a profanity-laced tweet directed at his own teammates, and SB Nation’s Steve Perrin said at the time that no amount of punishment would stop the incorrigible forward from curbing his anger:

But there’s no one on the Clippers that’s going to care now that it’s done. … We’d all be pretty happy if Barnes would actually put a little more thought into his confrontationsbut he won’t.  

The Clippers are currently locked in a tight battle for home-court advantage in the Western Conference playoffs. With J.J. Redick out indefinitely and Jamal Crawford suffering through a nagging calf injury, they cannot afford to lose any more perimeter players. Matt Barnes needs to keep his mouth shut, for the good of his team.

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Should Golden State Warriors Trade Harrison Barnes in 2014 Offseason?

The Golden State Warriors must ponder whether to trade Harrison Barnes this offseason.

Barnes will be 22 years old by the time next season starts, and he already has the physique of a stud player. In addition, he has some of the tools one would expect a good if not great perimeter player to possess.

Barnes has a solid first step, decent jump shot and a post-up game he can break out in case of emergency. Barnes is not yet a great ball-handler, but that is something he can work on and improve with time.

Given that Barnes is so young and talented, one might wonder what could possibly prompt the Warriors to consider trading him.

 

Taking a Step Back

Barnes has regressed as a player when compared to his first season with the Warriors.

The second-year player is averaging more points (10), made field goals (3.6) and assists per game (1.4). However, this is not the product of his game reaching new heights.

Rather, Barnes is playing more minutes in comparison to last season, which explains the increase in some of his production. When we look at his statistics per 36 minutes, the numbers indicate he has taken a step back in the previously mentioned categories.

Barnes marginally improved in other areas (blocks, steals and turnovers), but his overall shooting has plummeted. That can be attributed to his role change.

As a rookie, Barnes started 81 games for Golden State, and he was good enough to warrant an All-Rookie first-team selection. Barnes really took off during the 2013 playoffs after David Lee was injured in the first round against the Denver Nuggets.

Barnes became Golden State’s stretch power forward and flourished in the role. He pulled away bigger defenders and beat them off the dribble for scores. Also, the Dubs used him in the pick-and-roll where smaller defenders switched onto him.

Barnes took them down into the low block where he seemingly scored on every occasion. He averaged 16.1 points per game during the playoffs, which prompted many to believe Barnes was a star in the making.

Fast-forward to 2013-14, Barnes is the Warriors’ sixth man (because of the addition of Andre Iguodala), and he seems to understand its requirements in theory. Barnes shared his thoughts with Marcus Thompson II of San Jose Mercury News:

When you’re coming off the bench, you’re expected to come in and produce. No matter the situation or what the defense is doing, you’ve got to bring something. Obviously, people will load up on our starters, so I’m needed to come in and score as well as defend and rebound.

Although Barnes appears to be familiar with his tasks, he has struggled coming off the bench. Barnes is only hitting 40.6 percent of his shots, mostly because he has been unable to convert around the basket.

Have a look at the breakdown of his shooting numbers from last season and this one, based on the location of his attempts courtesy of NBA.com:

The majority of his field-goal attempts in both years have come directly at the rim. However, Barnes has had trouble finishing these shots this season because he’s been a little out of control in the half court.

Watch him try to take on the Indiana Pacers defense below:

Barnes is usually terrific in transition provided he is not the one leading the break. When he does it himself, at times, things like this happen:

Bleacher Report’s Grant Hughes offered this observation on Barnes: “It’s unclear where the notion of Barnes-as-creator originated, but we’ve got more than enough evidence to know now that the small forward should only score when set up by others.”

Barnes has been pressing throughout the season, and this seems like it has happened because of his demotion. It’s an interesting ongoing development given that he is actually getting more minutes than last year.

Nonetheless, his regression could be reason enough to trade him away to ensure Golden State gets great value for him before everyone realizes he might not be as good as advertised.

 

Harrison Barnes: A Great Asset

Barnes’ young age coupled with his cheap contract make him a fairly big trade chip.

He is scheduled to be eligible for a qualifying offer in 2016-17, per Sham Sports, which means Barnes is essentially signed until the end of that season. What’s more, he will earn a total of about $9.5 million between this season and the conclusion of 2016-17.

For the sake of context, teammate Stephen Curry will earn more than that by the end of 2013-14 ($9.9 million). Barnes’ deal makes him an attractive commodity that teams will likely covet.

General managers have gotten smarter as a whole, and they understand that short and low-dollar deals are the best way to build teams. Zach Lowe echoed that sentiment over at Grantland:

“Teams are becoming very risk-averse about taking on anything above $5 million or so, even if the player in question has real value. The CBA plays a role in that, since the tax penalties are so onerous now.”

Because Barnes will make on average just about $3 million over the life of his deal, teams will naturally have an interest in securing his services.

Barnes has some serious potential and could one day morph into an All-Star. The comparison that comes to mind is Luol Deng. Obviously, Deng is more advanced in his development considering the fact he is in the midst of his ninth season, but there are similarities between the players.

Both are decent shot creators who thrive when their teammates set them up for scores. Because of their respective heights (both are listed at 6’8’’), they can play power forward in some small-ball lineups and help run the opposition off the floor.

Deng is unquestionably the better defender at this point. He competes on every possession and uses his physical tools to bother opponents. Deng contests shots with great discipline because he crowds shooters with his length without necessarily jumping.

Also, Deng is quick enough to contain most perimeter players. Barnes possesses these physical attributes, but he has not yet figured out how to put it all together on the defensive end.

Still, the fact that Barnes is in the same conversation as Deng says a lot about how talented he is. Consider this nugget: Deng will have pocketed $14.3 million for his 2013-14 campaign once the season ends.

Needless to say, getting a younger version of him at roughly a fifth of the cost is enough to make a few front-office executives drool.

Thus, the Warriors should be able to present a few prospective moves to other franchises. For instance, Golden State could complete a three-team trade involving the Detroit Pistons and Cleveland Cavaliers.

The Dubs receive Josh Smith from Detroit and former Warriors fan favorite Jarrett Jack from Cleveland. The Pistons receive Barnes in this scenario, while the Cavs acquire David Lee.

Despite signing Smith to a four-year, $54 million contract last offseason, Detroit now wants him gone per ESPN.com’s (Insider subscription required) Chad Ford: “They made a serious push to find a new home for Josh Smith, but given his sizable contract, the Pistons couldn’t get any buyers.”

The trade allows Detroit to get out from Smith’s contract, and also, the Pistons get an actual small forward to put alongside their interior duo of Greg Monroe and Andre Drummond.

The Cavs get Lee in a move that gives Cleveland some offense. The Cavaliers have had a bottom-third offense for the past three seasons and can definitely use some scoring.

Lee is a good post-up player and a terrific finisher at the basket. He would be a great pick-and-roll partner to Kyrie Irving.

For the Warriors, the trade gives them bench help (Jack averaged 12.9 points and 5.6 assists as a reserve in his lone season with Golden State) and an athletic frontcourt player in Smith.

Smith is a good defensive player who guards interior and perimeter players. Also, he is a decent passer as well as a great finisher at the rim. This is but one of the potential deals out there involving Barnes.

 

The Verdict

The Warriors should trade Barnes in the offseason provided they find a deal that makes the team better.

The forward’s game has slipped a little, and that should certainly give the front office a reason to pause. Barnes simply might not be cut out for a second-unit role with Golden State, which means he might not produce in the fashion the franchise hopes going forward.

Still, his potential in conjunction with his low salary makes him an attractive bargaining chip. Barnes could very well become an All-Star one day, but the future for the Warriors is now.

The Dubs have a cast of talented players as well as a few young players (Draymond Green and Klay Thompson) who should be on the team for the long haul. Make no mistake, though, the Warriors should not be waiting for their guys to develop before going all in on a title chase.

Indeed, if the organization is serious about raising the Larry O’Brien Trophy, management has to upgrade the roster.

In an interview with Sporting News’ Sean Deveney, Warriors owner Joe Lacob clearly stated his intentions: “We have made it clear we want a championship. We will spend the money. I said I would be willing to go into the luxury tax for that, and we would have.”

Trading away Barnes for All-Star talent or a player close to that will probably result in an increase in payroll since Barnes is still playing under his rookie contract (quite cheap).

Should general manager Bob Myers sign off on a swap that brings in Josh Smith and Jarrett Jack for Barnes and David Lee, Golden State’s player salaries would increase by roughly $2 million.

Lacob has made it clear that the financial component would not be an obstacle to building a championship team. Barnes is young and incredibly affordable. Therefore, there will most certainly be a market for him this offseason.

Statistics accurate as of March 6, 2014.

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Barnes, Griffin lead Clippers to 5th straight win (Yahoo Sports)

PHOENIX, AZ - MARCH 4: Matt Barnes #22 of the Los Angeles Clippers shoots over P.J. Tucker #17 of the Phoenix Suns on March 4, 2014 at U.S. Airways Center in Phoenix, Arizona. (Photo by Barry Gossage/NBAE via Getty Images)

Matt Barnes knows shooting nights like this are rare moments to be savored. The 11-year NBA veteran scored 18 of his 28 points in the third quarter and the Los Angeles Clippers beat the Phoenix Suns 104-96 Tuesday to match their season best of five victories in a row. One of those nights.” Blake Griffin added 22 points and Darren Collison had 18 for Los Angeles. DeAndre Jordan had 10 points and 17 rebounds and blocked Goran Dragic’s layup try with the Suns still in it with 41 seconds to go.


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Is Harrison Barnes the Biggest Problem for Struggling Golden State Warriors?

Harrison Barnes hasn’t had the kind of sophomore season he or anyone close to the Golden State Warriors hoped for, but the second-year forward is far from the Dubs’ biggest problem.

You wouldn’t know that from the overwhelming amount of scrutiny the 21-year-old wing has faced lately, though. Alarm bells are ringing in Oakland, and Barnes—a particularly self-aware, image-conscious individual—is feeling the weight of those overblown concerns.

Per Marcus Thompson II of the San Jose Mercury News, a rough year has weighed on Barnes: ”I’m not going to front,” Barnes said just before the Rising Stars Challenge on Friday in New Orleans. “It’s been a challenge.”

Things have been tough for Barnes because so much was expected of him after a solid rookie year and a postseason campaign that seemed like a breakthrough. Pressed into duty as a floor-spacing power forward after David Lee went down with a torn hip flexor, Barnes showed observers a new and valuable dimension in his game.

It appeared as though the Warriors had found something promising.

Barnes’ lustrous playoff effort proved to be fool’s gold. The extra space he enjoyed in Denver made him look quicker and more effective than he actually was. And with the Warriors largely abandoning small ball in favor of more conventional two-big lineups this year, he hasn’t even had a chance to replicate his performance.

In a second-round matchup with the San Antonio Spurs, Barnes benefited from a matchup with Tony Parker. As we all know now, head coach Mark Jackson can’t resist a size advantage in the post. So Barnes got lots of touches, scored often and furthered the illusion he had turned a corner.

As Ethan Sherwood Strauss of ESPN points out, we all mistook volume for efficiency: 

The result was plenty of points for Barnes (an average of 17.3 over the six-game series), but at a below-average 51.4 percent true shooting mark. Since raw point totals still command a lot of respect, many filed Barnes’ series as a breakout performance.

This year, Barnes has been playing more but producing less. That’s not supposed to happen for a promising second-year player under any circumstances, but it’s particularly noticeable because of the hype that attached itself to Barnes after last season.

 

Steps Backward

There’s more to Barnes’ underwhelming year than unmet expectations, though. He’s newly hesitant on offense, frustratingly unwilling to act decisively and seemingly afraid of making mistakes.

Naturally, mistakes are exactly what have followed.

Barnes seems intent on making the perfect play, but winds up turning easy shots into difficult ones. He shies away from contact more than ever, negating his natural strength and athleticism.

Overall, we’ve seen marginal statistical declines across the board. 

On the positive side, Barnes is hitting at a higher accuracy rate from long distance. So, at least this year hasn’t been a complete step backward.

Pinning the full blame on Barnes isn’t fair, though. His role is all wrong, both in terms of what he’s asked to do and with whom he’s asked to do it. It’s unclear where the notion of Barnes-as-creator originated, but we’ve got more than enough evidence to know now that the small forward should only score when set up by others.

That means his role as an isolation and post-up threat on an offensively bankrupt second unit is, quite literally, the worst possible situation for him. Thrust into such an ill-fitting position, Barnes has stalled the offense all year, failed to generate any game-to-game consistency and, worst of all, lost a lot of confidence.

Just look at his effectiveness on different types of plays. It doesn’t take the 2005 version of Mike D’Antoni to figure out how Barnes should be utilized on offense.

 

Angry Aussies and Perturbed Preachers

Fortunately for Barnes (and unfortunately for everyone else), the Warriors have bigger problems than the stalled development of a reserve forward. Andrew Bogut missed four straight games heading into the All-Star break with a shoulder injury, and from the sound of it, there’s cause for concern:

There’s no such thing as “day-to-day” for Bogut. His is an injury history that features long stretches of inactivity, not the odd game missed here or there.

Bogut checks in at No. 2 in the Dubs’ “Indispensability Rankings,” just after resident All-Star starter Stephen Curry. If he’s not right for the stretch run, a lottery berth is very much in play for Golden State.

Making matters worse, there was a brief spat between Jackson and Bogut that played out in the media before the Warriors took on the Philadelphia 76ers on Feb. 10. Jackson made some fairly innocuous comments about the source of Bogut‘s injury, to which the ornery big man took exception.

This was the first instance of any potential discord under Jackson’s reign, and the coach went way overboard in emphasizing the perfect unity of his troops.

Per Steve Berman of BayAreaSportsGuy.com, Jackson forcefully stated after the Sixers game:

Please don’t twist my words. Understand this also—you will never see a problem in my locker room. You will not see a problem in my locker room, with my group. We are tied together, we are committed. This is not the old culture. This is a new culture. Thank you.

The response was unquestionably defensive and might have revealed Jackson’s awareness of the pressure coming down from on high.

The truth is, the Warriors don’t really have a “big problem.” But if you’re looking for something that comes close, it’d probably be good to start with the man who uses so many possessives to define the team, the locker room and the players.

If Jackson insists on verbally claiming ownership over so many facets of the Warriors, he’s the man who has to answer for things when they go wrong.

Warriors management isn’t satisfied with this team’s performance, and it’s not unreasonable to expect a little tension between the front office and Jackson.

Especially with owner Joe Lacob saying things like this when Tim Kawakami of the San Jose Mercury News asked him about his thoughts on Jackson the day after those blustery comments:

I think you’re always evaluating everybody, whether it be the players, the coaches… It’s hard to know, if you don’t quite win a few games you should, is it the coach’s fault? Is it the players’ fault? It’s hard to say. I think we’ll have to look back on a body of work at the end of the season and look at that and make an evaluation.

I do think our coach has done a good job–we have had some big wins, a lot of wins on the road, and that’s usually a sign of good coaching. But some things are a little disturbing–the lack of being up for some of these games at home, that’s a concern to me.

Hardly a ringing endorsement.

 

Triage

Overall, though, the Warriors are in good shape. They still have Curry, Andre Iguodala and an ownership group obsessed with pushing the organization into the league’s elite. That’s a lot more than most teams have.

Yes, Barnes is a disappointment, and if I had to bet on it right now, I’d say he’s not going to develop into the impact player many thought he would. But he’s 21; it’d be foolish to bet on anything about Barnes’ future at this early juncture.

Golden State has to sort out Bogut‘s health and decide if Jackson is the right man to lead this roster. After that, it can worry about Barnes.

 

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The revival of Texas basketball and coach Rick Barnes

A return to success and a likable have led to renewed hope for Texas Longhorns basketball.

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Texas’ Rick Barnes: From hot seat to coach of the year candidate

What Barnes has accomplished has been one of the most compelling story lines this season.

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