In just 19 minutes Wednesday night, Golden State Warriors rookie Harrison Barnes finished with an efficient 13 points on 6-of-7 shooting in their 105-97 win over the Detroit Pistons. Barnes slashed to the basket, throwing down multiple dunks with authority. He brings an aspect to the floor that no other Warrior has: God-given athleticism.
At 6-foot-8, Barnes is by far the most athletic player on the roster. He can shoot, defend, handle the ball, get to the rim, and has thrown down some of the most ferocious dunks that I have seen all season long. So why does he only average 25 minutes per game and completely vanish from the court in the second half on a team that lacks true athleticism? Who knows.
Since Brandon Rush went down to a gruesome knee injury in the first weeks of the season, the Warriors have lacked a true slasher ever since. I thought that they would perhaps address that issue at the trade deadline, but they didn’t. I wondered why at the time, but perhaps they didn’t need to.
But does Mark Jackson know that?
Over the season, Barnes has shown signs of maturation from being a 20-year old rookie to a 20-year old man. At times he is timid, and plays not to make mistakes; other times, he attacks the basket with no regard for anything. So why is it that Jackson plays him the same way whether he scores zero points in a half, or has three beautiful back door cut dunks in a single quarter like last night?
While Klay Thompson is a great shooter, he brings nothing else to the table, and gets overmatched time and time again defensively late in games when playing small forward. You need Jarrett Jack on the floor late in games, but during those games when Klay is having an off shooting night, why not play Barnes down the stretch? At the very least, he will defend and rebound. Klay does neither.
So why not play Barnes more? He at the very least deserves the opportunity. Maybe Mark Jackson is waiting for the right time? Maybe he doesn’t want to do anything to break the confidence of the only 20 year old rookie? Or Maybe Jackson knows something that we don’t.
After all, he is the coach.
You can follow Rich Peters on twitter @Tricky_Roma.