Harrison Barnes has a cool sounding name, solid footwork and sweet shooting stroke. He also gives a real good interview, for what yada-yada is worth.
That’s about as complimentary as I can be regarding the former #1 pro prospect in the nation.
I would like to think Harrison Barnes is a hoops stud deserving of the Kings 5th pick in the 2012 NBA draft, and pencil him in as our starting small forward for the next decade.
I would like to think that the UNC system, and the relatively constricted NCAA game, limited the showcase of his skill. The NBA game, with its increased spacing and non-hand checking rules, will set it free.
I would like to think that 20 for 61 FG shooting (33%) when it counted most, the 2012 NCAA tourney, was an anomaly, and he will prove to be a clutch performer at the next level.
I would like to think Harrison Barnes can make the sequential failure of Omri Casspi, Donte Greene, and John Salmons and the collective wannabes post-Peja forgotten memories, as opposed to a continuation of eye-shielding incompetence.
All that would be wishful thing more than any subjective analysis I can muster.
Then again, Harrison Barnes is really, really good, if high school competition is your benchmark, against future accountants and dock workers.
His strength is supposedly as a shooter, yet he converted on only 44% of total FGs and 36% of FGs from beyond arc. He turned it over almost twice as often as he assisted (1.1 assists to 1.9 TOs per game), and accomplished little else of statistical note.
To be worthy of the 5th pick, I think a guy needs to have multi-position potential, and be able to create a high percentage shot, for himself or teammates, on a consistently recurring basis.
Is this too much to ask?
An elite college talent should have a mostly favorable impact, even when his shot is not falling. An elite college talent should be around the ball, exerting his competitive will, athleticism, and play-making influence more often than not.
Harrison Barnes failed by these respective measures.
As point of reference, Tyreke Evans dominated in his one year at Memphis. Individually and as leader of his team, he delivered. Currently, the target of extensive scrutiny by a sizable segment of King die-hards, Tyreke was marvelous where Barnes was marshmallow.
Two words spring to mind when I project Harrison Barnes: Wes Johnson.
Wes Johnson had a beautiful shooting stroke while at Syracuse. He could jump through the gym. His smile could light up a room. He was also passive and fragile, incapable of dominance because of lack of ball handling, assertiveness and self-belief.
The red flags were there for those with the discerning, anti-Kahn vision to see.
In my estimation, Harrison Barnes is a ‘3’ without the mobility, quickness or creativity to play ‘2’, and without the power or size to play ‘4’. He lacks an explosive first step to get by an NBA defender. Don’t expect thread-like passes, leadership or Cousins-like versatility.
Harrison Barnes is hype unrealized. He is OK to good, promised as great.
As I thoroughly enjoy the ECFs and WCFs , I am reminded that even Ray Allen can beat his man with first step, and he has bum ankle and is 83 years old.
Here is the bottom line:
I am not opposed to the drafting Harrison Barnes, believe it or not. But this kid needs to wow, seriously wow, in the pre-draft workouts. He needs to beat his man like a drum, and then beat him again. He needs to take the adversity of the NCAA tourney and use it as personal fuel to spur himself to new levels of capability. He needs to remember who he was coming out of high school, and reclaim those heightened expectations as legitimate.
He needs to play as cool as his name.
Harrison Barnes needs to decide who he is: a 33% shooter when the basketball world is watching, or the next Rudy Gay.
Until then, Thomas Robinson in purple and black gets my whole-hearted endorsement. As does Barnes to the Cavs with the 4th pick. The pre-game battles between Barnes and Omri would be as epic as Sergio vs. Udoka, circa 2010.