Harrison Barnes: Cavaliers Must Target Former Tar Heel Star with Lottery Pick
Harrison Barnes is the best spot-up shooter in this year's NBA draft. He struggles to create his own shot, but he would thrive next to Kyrie Irving in Cleveland.
The Cavs currently trot Anthony Parker and Alonzo Gee onto the court at small forward. Barnes is better than either player even when he is at his worst.
Barnes is not a flawless prospect. He needs to improve on the defensive end, handle the ball better and learn to move without the ball.
But the shooting ability, work ethic and character is there.
Cleveland owns two first-round selections in this year's draft. They must target Barnes with their lottery pick.
Let's take a look at why Barnes makes sense for the Cavs.
Barnes averaged 17-plus point for North Carolina last season. He did not significantly fill up the stat sheet in any other area, but the upside is certainly there.
One thing is for sure, Barnes can catch and shoot with ridiculous precision. When he sets his feet and shoots in rhythm he is deadly from 15 feet and beyond.
Barnes benefited from Kendall Marshall's presence in the Tar Heel backcourt last year. When Marshall was not in the lineup he struggled mightily, and seemed mostly lost.
Irving's presence in Cleveland would give Barnes the creative distributor he needs to maximize his potential.
Irving is a skilled penetrator. Barnes would reap the benefits of Irving's dribble, drive and kick mentality.
Barnes' shortcomings could hinder his development.
If he cannot handle the ball more efficiently he will miss out on getting points on the drive. His size lends itself to points in the paint, but he need to be more confident with the basketball in his hands.
He must also be more aggressive on the glass. His 6'8'' frame should allow double-digit rebound totals but that rarely happens.
Barnes is a project in many areas, but his mentality makes him worth a lottery selection.
He legitimately wants to improve each and every day.
What would he do for Cleveland?
If nothing else, Barnes would bring excitement to Cleveland immediately. His marquee name would be welcomed in Cleveland's desperate market.
The Cavs are not far away from being a playoff team in the NBA's top-heavy Eastern Conference.
Irving was a revelation this season en route to his 2012 NBA Rookie of the Year award, but they must get him some help.
How good will Barnes be?
Cleveland's two first-round picks allows them to address two needs. Taking Barnes with their first selection will free up their second pick for a frontcourt player or the best available shooting guard.
Barnes would start immediately for Cleveland and give Irving a dangerous option outside. This would put stress on defenses, giving Irving more space to operate.
Cleveland needs Barnes to stretch the floor and force defenses to respect the three-point line. It will immediately make their entire offense better because less attention will be paid to Irving.
The Cavaliers will have several options with their first selection but Barnes is the right choice.
He has excellent shooting ability and a tremendously high ceiling.
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