Editor’s Note: Welcome to our 2020 Kings Season Preview series, where we’ll be looking ahead to what this season will bring for every member of this Sacramento roster and pondering both best and worst-case scenarios. Today, let’s continue with Harrison Barnes.
How did he get here?
Barnes came to Sacramento via the famous February 2019 trade that happened during a Dallas Mavericks vs. Charlotte Hornets game. The Kings acquired the veteran from the Mavs in exchange for Zach Randolph and Justin Jackson. The 28-year-old is entering the second year of his deal with Sacramento and has a cap hit of a little more than $22.2 million this season.
What is his best-case scenario for 2020-21?
Barnes is entering his ninth NBA season and has reached his ceiling as a player. He averaged 14.5 points and 4.9 rebounds last year while shooting 38.1 percent from beyond the arc. Head coach Luke Walton played Barnes at the 4 when he wanted to go small last season, and I assume we will see that again during the 2020-21 campaign. The Kings need Barnes to be a stabilizing presence on a young team.
Barnes has been one of the locker-room leaders since joining the team, and that should continue during his tenure in Sacramento. Although he has never been a facilitator on offense, it would be a massive plus for the Kings if Barnes can improve his playmaking abilities. He had the second-best assist percentage of his career last season, and if those numbers continue to climb, it will go a long way for Barnes to earn his lofty paycheck.
With Walton preaching spacing on the floor, Sacramento needs Barnes to continue to be a good outside shooter. He connected on 35.6 percent of his corner threes last season, making him an excellent fit next to point guard De’Aaron Fox.
What is his worst-case scenario?
The Kings need Barnes to be better on the defensive end when he is playing the 4. Sacramento gave up more second-chance points and points in the paint with Barnes on the floor than it did with any other player in the game.
This is especially true, considering Barnes will get some run as a small-ball 4. When he was outsized, Sacramento gave up a ton of easy buckets in the paint. If he continues to get abused on the defensive end, Walton will be forced to try different combinations that will limit Barnes’ versatility.
If Barnes’ shooting percentages take a dip and he loses a step in terms of quickness, his contract will quickly become untradeable.
It will be interesting to see how Tyrese Haliburton fits into the equation, but in the meantime, the Kings need Barnes to continue to be the sturdy veteran he has been since he arrived.