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Harrison Barnes in the post is an added dynamic to Sacramento’s offense

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After finding an offensive rhythm recently, Barnes in the post is another weapon in Sacramento’s offensive arsenal.

Kimani Okearah

Harrison Barnes was the biggest piece that came to Sacramento during trade deadline week and after multiple games of poor shooting and general struggles on offense, Barnes is picking up the pieces on that end of the floor.

Harrison Barnes shooting last five games

Stats vs. Opp at Minnesota vs Milwaukee vs LAC vs New York vs Boston
Stats vs. Opp at Minnesota vs Milwaukee vs LAC vs New York vs Boston
Shooting/% 0-4, 0% 6-11, 55% 5-10, 50% 7-13, 54% 8-14, 57%
3P Shooting/% 0-2, 0% 3-6, 50% 1-2, 50% 3-6, 50% 4-7, 57%
Points 2 15 15 22 24
per ESPN

Over the last four games, Barnes has shot at least 50% or more in all of them. Whether it’s shooting threes in the corner (where most of his makes have been coming from), mid-range twos, or posting up to get a basket, it’s refreshing for him and the team to see these numbers.

The reason I included his substandard numbers against Minnesota is because while his shooting percentages and points fluctuated since his arrival, this was his worst performance. Sometimes, things have to get worse before they get better and for Barnes, hitting his stride on offense right after his worst shooting performance speaks volumes. One reason for Barnes’ increased production lately has been the Kings discovering a new way to get him involved: by getting him going in the post.

The Kings have a plethora of options when it comes to who they go to on offense: De’Aaron Fox’s all-around quickness to get to the rim or stop, pop and hit a jumper, kick out to a shooter or lob to a big man, Buddy Hield and Bogdan Bogdanovic’s ability to create a three or go to the rim, Marvin Bagley’s ability to do it all inside the perimeter, Harry Giles at the top of the key looking for cutters or posting at the rim, you get the point. Sacramento is loaded with numerous weapons and they’re using them effectively this season unlike feeding Zach Randolph in the post constantly in the year past.

With the addition of Barnes, his 39% clip from behind the arc instantly became a savory ingredient, but recently, his play in the post has been just has tasty.

Video breakdown time!

This has been my favorite play from him out of the post. He’s posting on the bigger Marcus Morris with his head always up and looking for the possible open shooter or cutter. Then he makes a couple of fakes both ways, eventually opting to go up with his right. However, Morris smartly sticks out his hip to make it tougher for Barnes which is why he shoots it awkwardly off balance but drills it anyways. Kimani Okearah captured this moment beautifully in the featured image.

Here’s another example from the Boston game. He’s backing down Gordon Hayward who is pretty evenly matched up to Barnes. He’s doing the same thing as he keeps his head up looking for another possible option and then goes to work. He leans into Hayward’s chest and extends the ball out so neither Hayward nor Morris can get a hand on it. Hayward’s solid contest makes it harder for Barnes to get a good look but he gets it off and receives the delightful bounce.

The most admirable aspect of his post up game is that he’s always looking to pass as highlighted in the two plays above. His head always stays up. Barnes establishes himself in the post against the smaller guard Malik Beasley, then gathers the ball to keep it away from the incoming Torrey Craig who’s looking to poke it out, takes a step forward with the left foot and kicks it out to an open Hield who catches Jamal Murray in a tough position. The split second of Craig going to poke the ball out makes Murray step in to try to cover Fox who becomes open, but that mistake leads to Hield getting an open look and he buries it. Barnes took full advantage of the mistake for an assist.

Now Barnes fights to establish position against Mikal Bridges, who is also a relatively even matchup. His head stays up as he dribbles and then notices the wide open Hield again. Devin Booker gets caught trying to cover the baseline which DeAndre Ayton failed to do because Willie Cauley-Stein is his man. Tyler Johnson is covering the right player but no one picks up Hield, which is obviously the imprudent thing to do. Hield cashes in and Booker is visibly upset at what occurred. Once again, Barnes takes advantage of the opposition’s mistake on defense.

The Kings haven’t been loaded with this level of talent and options in a long time. It’s an immense reason as to why they’re so fun to watch. New weapons are being crafted and developed every game and with Harrison Barnes playing the way he is on both ends of the floor, his post up play becomes an added dynamic to an already explosive arsenal. More of this from Barnes and the Kings have their guy at small forward for the future.