With the season officially behind us, this is about the time we would normally begin looking forward to the draft. Actually, we normally would have been looking forward to the draft starting around February. But with the Sacramento Kings lacking a first round pick this year, we can spend a little more time than normal reflecting on the past season. We’re going to do this by grading every player on the roster, one at a time. The Sactown Royalty staff will provide their grades and thoughts, and we’ll have a poll and can discuss and debate.
Today we’re grading Harrison Barnes. Barnes was acquired at the trade deadline, and during his time with the Kings he averaged 14.3 points, 5.5 rebounds, and 1.9 assists.
When Barnes was acquired at the trade deadline, the biggest concern was how we fit in with the Kings roster and scheme. From a pure talent standpoint, he was an obvious upgrade. And despite that talent, Barnes did have some early adjustment struggles. He was in a bit of scoring slump when he first joined the Kings, but after averaging less than 10 point per game in February with the Kings, he bounced back in March and April. Even before he rediscovered his scoring touch, Barnes was a positive contributor. His defense was excellent, as Barnes was often tasked with stifling great players and managed to do so without fouling. If it weren’t for the initial slump as he found his rhythm in the offense I would have given Barnes an A. Earning a B is still a respectable showing, and I’m excited to see what he can do for the Kings in a full season.
Solely focusing on his time with the Kings, Harrison Barnes clearly illustrated he can be the future starting small forward for this team. As we know, the Kings have desperately needed a real small forward since Rudy Gay’s departure and when Barnes came in, I thought he filled that void really well. I was skeptical on the trade initially because I was on the Otto Porter Jr. boat, but looking back, Barnes for essentially just Justin Jackson was a superb move.
Barnes struggled finding his shot early on with the Kings, as he never shot more than 41 percent in his first six games but that eventually turned around as he shot 49.7 percent in March and 46 percent in April. He provided length, 40 percent three point shooting, post-playmaking, solid two-hand rebounding and his one-on-one defense substantially improved as well. He didn’t take away shots or plays from the youngsters, he simply added to the threat. Let’s hope the Kings can lock Barnes for the future, but just at a little cheaper price.
I was between a B and a C here. Barnes would get an A if the yardstick was the parade of small forwards that we have seen since Rudy Gay left, but for a guy pulling down his level of coin he was about average. He was an average 3-4 for a roughly average NBA team.
To Barnes’ credit, he also came in on the fly and did a nice job of complementing the players that were already here without being overwhelming. And he brought an ability to defense that was seen all too infrequently by the incumbent players. Also, Barnes did yeoman’s work shuttling between the three and four in Dave Joerger’s...inventive rotations.
Should Barnes stay my guess is that he is a much better overall player for the Kings once he has a camp to really get to work with his teammates.
Being honest, I expected a little more impact play from Barnes. It was clear that Joerger had a tough time syncing him with the roster over that final stretch. As much as Barnes talked about rebounding, a 4-5 combo of Barnes and Willie Cauley-Stein are going to cost the Kings in most NBA match-ups.
His defense was better than expected, and his offensive contributions were beneath what I expected, but we can chalk that up to the atmosphere of being traded and the awful rotations used in the games.
Outside of Fox and Buddy, my highest marks for the year belong to Harrison Barnes. He didn’t come in and lead the team in scoring, but that’s also not what the Kings were looking for. His FG% spiked from 40.4 in Dallas to 45.5 in Sacramento. His 3PT% jumped from 38.9 to 40.8 as well. All while he shed his iso-ball mentality and reduced his usage rate by almost a third.
Barnes wasn’t brought in to run the show. He was acquired with the hope that he could be a fourth option on a team rich with budding stars. The Kings needed a support player who was expected to defend and hit shots when needed, but be willing to defer more often than not. He filled that role, and hopefully will continue to do so for years to come.
Rob mentioned the dollar amount on Barnes’ paycheck, which is admittedly on the steep side. But there was a different price tag that Sacramento payed for him, namely Zach Randolph and Justin Jackson. You want to talk about a bargain? Barnes is it.
How would you grade Harrison Barnes’ season?
This poll is closed