Thursday, July 24, 2014

Harry Barnes

Four years ago, Harrison Barnes was the No. 1 prospect in the country. In terms of hype, he wasn't that far off from where Andrew Wiggins is now. That may seem hard to believe, but consider this tweet from Adrian Wojnarowski from June 2011:

Adrian Wojnarowski: An NBA scout gushing over UNC's Harrison Barnes battling KDurant at Chicago camp last night. "Top pick in the next draft -- by far," he says http://twitter.com/#!/WojYahooNBA/status/85753066812485634

Barnes certainly looked the part. At 6'8 230, he was an elite athlete with prototype size for a wing scorer. He's a guy who could play far above the rim who also had range on his jumper and the ability to put the ball on the floor.

He had an up-and-down freshman season at UNC, but he still showed enough potential to where he would have almost certainly been a Top 5 pick in 2011. After all, Derrick Williams went No. 2 in that year's draft and Tristan Thompson came off the board at No. 4. It wasn't until Barnes sophomore season, when he was unable to turn potential into elite production, that the bloom began to fall off the rose for him as a prospect.

Which brings us back to the Wiggins comparison. Take a look at their freshman seasons in college and tell me if you notice any similarities:

Season
G
MP
FG
FGA
FG%
3P
3PA
3P%
FT
FTA
FT%
RB
AS
ST
BK
TO
PF
PTS
2012-13
37
29.4
5.6
13.7
.421
1.8
5.3
.344
2.5
3.4
.750
5.8
1.4
0.7
0.4
1.9
1.9
15.6
2013-14
35
32.8
5.4
12.1
.448
1.2
3.6
.341
5.0
6.5
.775
5.9
1.5
1.2
1.0
2.3
2.7
17.1

The two red flags that jump out to me for both players are the average three-point shooting numbers and the negative assist-to-turnover ratios. A perimeter player who can't consistently stretch the floor or make good decisions with the ball in his hands has a ceiling on how good he can be, no matter how athletic he is.

This doesn't mean Wiggins isn't going to be an excellent NBA player, but I say that as someone who hasn't given up on Barnes at all. After all, the guy is still only 22 - he played on the same high school team as Doug McDermott and he was competing at a significantly higher level of competition than the Missouri Valley Conference and the new Big East in the last two seasons.

After being force fed minutes as a rookie in Golden State, Barnes was stuck in a tough position in his second season in the league. The Warriors signed Andre Iguodala to play over him, sending him to the bench, where he struggled due to a lot of turnover at the backup PG position and the lack of a consistent playmaker who could create shots for him. Despite his struggles, he's still an elite athlete with great size who projects as a high-level 3-and-D player who could average around 15+ a night when he reaches his prime, which won't be until 2020, when he is 27-28.

If Barnes can't improve as a passer or shooter, though, it's hard to see him living up to the hype that accompanied him coming out of high school and his first season of college. That's something to keep in mind about Wiggins, who shot 15% from 3 and averaged 0.3 assists a game in Las Vegas.

And yes, this dunk is very impressive:



But so was this:

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