After an acquisition from the Dallas Mavericks at the trade deadline in 2019, Harrison Barnes quickly became a fan favorite in Sacramento. No stranger to Northern California, the once-NBA champion with the Golden State Warriors wore the purple and black proudly and was able to deliver for a team that seemed to have reached its peak the year before.
In a down year in injuries for Marvin Bagley III and De’Aaron Fox, Barnes was able to bring his leadership through the NBA Bubble and out the other side, leading into the 2020-21 season. In turn, the 28 year-old former TarHeel was able to reach career highs with Sacramento and prove to be one of the most consistent scorers in the line-up.
Averaging 16.1 points, 6.6 rebounds and 3.5 assists per game was a welcomed site to the “Black Falcon” (although maybe Captain America is more fitting?), but it was his chemistry with the starting five — particularly Richaun Holmes — that solidified his spot in the starting lineup. He even linked up with the Kings for a game-winner against the Cleveland Cavaliers last season, when the team was firing on all cylinders.
HARRISON BARNES WINS IT OFF THE FULL-COURT PASS— NBA on ESPN (@ESPNNBA) March 28, 2021
CRAZY GAME-WINNER. pic.twitter.com/CMQaOv0iNv
Best-case: Harrison Barnes continues to thrive as he reaches his prime.
It’s hard to remember that HB is so young because he presents himself like a veteran that has been around the league for many moons. Achieving success early in Golden State might have stunted his growth in Dallas, but since transitioning to Sacramento, he has proven to be a deliverable performer night in and night out.
I think the best case for Barnes is that he continues to score in a very guard-heavy backcourt and produce the same numbers. Given the help that is around him, I think averaging 17 points and 7 rebounds per game is not an unrealistic ask of the nine-year veteran. The more facilitating he is able to do off the ball the better, but having a familiar wing in the Kings’ arsenal only strengthens their starting unit.
Worst-case: In all honesty, my biggest worry for Harrison Barnes (amongst many players of Kings’ Christmas past) is that he becomes involved in a trade that we don’t see any return from.
There were strong talks in last year’s trade deadline that the Boston Celtics were gunning hard for him, and with improvements or even a stagnant start, I fear that Sacramento brass might get trigger happy with the means to move him around as a wanted asset.
Barnes has two years left on his contract, which means he won’t become an unrestricted free agent until 2023. It’s possible that the right playoff contender will look to swoop him in the coming months when his performance is really essential to what Sacramento is building towards. In a similar way to Iman Shumpert’s departure in 2019, I would hate to feel like chemistry is moving two steps forward one step back.
In all, I think the next step for Harrison Barnes is to excel. He has shown no signs of stopping in the last year, despite injury and a well documented battle with COVID-19. Barring any unforeseen obstacles, I think HB will continue to contribute positively in Sactown.