Harrison Barnes: Why North Carolina Swingman Deserves to Be First Pick in Draft

Ross DautelContributor IIIMarch 22, 2012

Teams that are looking to improve right away both offensively and defensively should take a hard look at Barnes
Teams that are looking to improve right away both offensively and defensively should take a hard look at BarnesStreeter Lecka/Getty Images

Throughout the college basketball season, scouts have pegged Kentucky forward Anthony Davis as the top pick in June's NBA draft and for good reason. At 6'10", the potential Player of the Year candidate is long and athletic and projects very well at the next level.

While Davis has been receiving all the publicity, North Carolina's Harrison Barnes has been uncharacteristically flying under the radar.

Although Davis deserves all the attention he's been receiving, the team with the first pick in the NBA draft should take a long hard look at Barnes before pulling the trigger on Davis.

Barnes is one of the elite scorers in college basketball. He's incredibly smart with the ball in his hands and he has tremendous range from behind the arc.

The Tar Heels forward is also a better defender than he generally gets credit for. Davis is widely regarded for his shot-blocking ability, but Barnes is no slouch when it comes to defending.

At 6'8", Barnes has the ability to guard players of varying sizes at multiple positions, something that will come in handy in the NBA.

While Davis is tall (6'10") with a great wingspan (7'4"), the Wildcats forward is still learning how to play down low and account for his skill set.

It remains to be seen whether or not Davis has the strength to hang in the paint with the NBA's elite, especially offensively.

While bulking up is a necessity for Davis, Barnes' body is NBA ready right now. The 19-year-old can match up with small forwards across the league and likely score with the same proficiency as he has been in college.

Despite Barnes' young age, the swingman is fearless and is not afraid to handle to ball in clutch situations. He is wise beyond his years and this maturity will undoubtedly transfer well to the NBA.

So while Davis' upside is unquestioned, he is still a bit of a project that needs developing. The team with the first pick in the draft will want to turn to a player that can help out the squad immediately.

Look no further than Harrison Barnes.