By Alex Moss on August 5, 2014
Golden State Warriors forward and Breaking Bad aficionado Harrison Barnes entered last season with lofty expectations following his play in the 2013 playoffs. In the eyes of many, however, Barnes did not live up to these expectations in 2014 and even regressed from his 2013 season. For Barnes to show that he is the real deal and help the Warriors like he did in the 2013 playoffs, here are five things he must improve.
Barnes’ confidence was sapped when the Warriors brought in the veteran Iguodala after Barnes’ breakout playoff run, and he clearly played with timidity during all of last season. He needs to get out of his head and simply play his game, as he did during the 2013 playoffs. The world has seen what Barnes can do when that happens, and that would help the Warriors more than anything.
One of Barnes’ biggest drawbacks as a wing player is his blatant inability to dribble. The ball often sticks with Barnes, clogging the Warriors’ offense and slowing down their pace of play. Coach Steve Kerr has expressed his desire to increase the offense’s fluidity, which means Barnes needs to improve his passing and handles.
Barnes has been outfitted as a small-ball stretch 4 as of late, and must be more aggressive in his post play and offensive rebounding to capitalize on that role. Replicating the effort and energy of Draymond Green would help here, and would open up the floor on the perimeter.
The legend of the Black Falcon came alive during the Warriors’ improbable run in the 2013 playoffs, when Barnes became an integral part of the Warriors’ rotation. Barnes had a penchant for showing up in dramatic games during his tenure at University of North Carolina as well; however, Barnes needs to channel that same energy for 82 games during the regular season.
Barnes’ steal numbers and foul numbers per 36 minutes are low for a combo forward, signaling his distaste for aggressive defense on the perimeter and pick-and-roll sets. An aggressive Barnes on defense will take pressure off of Andre Iguodala, who is aging and cannot be expected to carry the backcourt’s defense as he did last season.
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