This article was originally published on Let’s Go Warriors.
Harrison Barnes showed his massive potential in his rookie season with the Golden State Warriors. Off the court, he has a veteran demeanor in that he’s extremely hard-working, professional, confident, and dedicated to improving his game and helping the team win.
On the court, Barnes was the X-factor the Warriors last season. He’s athletic, explosive, and quick. He has a good shooting motion, and he has a high basketball IQ. He knows that when he’s going up against a bigger defender, he should use his speed to beat them. When he’s going up against a smaller defender, he knows to use his strength to out-muscle them.
In the regular season, Barnes averaged 9.2 points, 4.1 rebounds, 1.2 assists, 43.9 percent shooting, 35.9 percent shooting from three, 75.8 percent free-throw shooting in 25.4 minutes per game in 81 games.
Barnes likes to drive to the basket and show off his athleticism and explosiveness. He uses pump-fakes to beat his defender, and he uses his speed to get to the rim, instead of always settling for threes. However, this skillset wasn’t always utilized in the regular season. Instead, he got most of his shots on spot-ups and isolations.
He was solid in the regular season, but not quite as spectacular as he was in the postseason when he started to show his true potential. He averaged 16.1 points, 6.4 rebounds, 1.3 assists, 44.4 percent shooting, 36.5 percent shooting from three, 85.7 percent free-throw shooting in 38.4 minutes per game in 12 games.
In the postseason, Barnes showed how confident he is, how he takes good shots, and how he isn’t afraid of the extra pressure in the playoffs. With Stephen Curry injured, Klay Thompson struggling, and David Lee out with his right hip flexor injury, Barnes often became the Warriors’ biggest offensive threat in the postseason.
The Warriors took advantage of his great footwork in post-up situations, his speed, and his strength when they played him at the power forward position. He thrived in that role, because he’s faster than most power forwards, but he has the strength to keep them out of the paint.
In the playoffs, Barnes knew he was the most athletic player on the court, so he used it to his advantage. In the Warriors’ series against the San Antonio Spurs in the Western Conference Semifinals, he would post up Tony Parker and score rather easily, and he wasn’t afraid to go right at Tim Duncan.
In Game 5 against the Denver Nuggets, Barnes also showed how he can take over a game when his teammates are struggling. He hit three three-pointers in the first quarter when others were struggling to score, and he really carried the Warriors for much of the first half. Barnes finished Game 5 with a team-high 23 points, nine rebounds, two steals, and one block. Barnes certainly carried himself like a veteran in Game 5.
In the Warriors’ series against the Spurs, Barnes had 19 points and 12 rebounds in Game 1, he had 26 points and 10 rebounds in Game 4, and he had 25 points and seven rebounds in Game 5.
“The guy has grown up before our very eyes,” Mark Jackson said. “He had an off the charts regular season, which put us in position to be the sixth seed. He has elevated his game in the postseason… He’s a guy that’s not afraid of the moment, obviously a guy that embraces the bright lights.”
Barnes certainly has a lot of potential to become a star in the NBA. Next season, he can improve on his off-ball defense and his shooting. He will also probably come off the bench next season because of the Warriors’ acquisition of Andre Iguodala.
However, this will not stunt his development. First of all, coming off the bench would allow Barnes to play against the reserves of the opposing team, which would allow him to dominate offensively. Second of all, the addition of Iguodala is a blessing in disguise for Barnes. Although he probably won’t start anymore, Igudoala would be a great mentor for Barnes. Iguodala could use his defensive expertise to help Barnes grow as a defender, and his veteran leadership and work ethic will set a great example for Barnes.
Barnes has amazing work ethic for a rookie, and, in the playoffs, he showed his veteran demeanor by remaining confident and consistent. The sky is the limit for Barnes, and he will have a breakout season for the Warriors next year.