In 2011-12, Barton showed scouts exactly why he was rated by ESPN as the eighth-best prospect coming out of high school in 2010. His versatility on offense is extraordinary, and he has the length and potential to be a difference-making wing player on defense almost immediately.
What Barton Brings to the Team
Perhaps no wing player in America had better all-around numbers than those tallied by Barton during the 2011-12 campaign (18.0 PPG, 8.0 RPG, 2.9 APG, 1.4 SPG). After a mildly successful freshman debut, the Memphis star improved his mid-range game and cut down on his turnovers as he helped lead the Tigers to a 26-9 record last season.
Aggressiveness and energy are two of Barton's traits that are never in question, and his ability to both rebound and handle the basketball make him a terror in transition. Defensively, Barton's near-seven-foot wingspan and good lateral movement allow him to guard multiple positions rather effectively.
What Experts Are Saying
As a rebounder and a defensive specialist, Barton is one of the best shooting guards in the entire 2012 draft. Walker Beeken of DraftExpress.com writes that Barton has "the size, length, and athleticism of a prototypical NBA wing."
And while Adam Ganeles of NBADraft.net says that Barton "lacks elite level explosiveness," he also writes that Barton is "a great kid, charismatic individual with an infectious personality."
Personality will only get you so far, however. Because of his wiry frame, Barton is probably a year or two away from having a significant impact on the offensive end.
It would mystifying if Barton doesn't average double-digit minutes next season. His jumper is NBA-ready, he's an above-average defender, and he rebounds ridiculously well for his position.
Barton's lack of strength is the biggest issue with his game: At 175 pounds, he'll get pushed around rather easily by most NBA shooting guards and small forwards. With a full summer and training camp to bulk up, Barton should be able to put on enough weight to be a solid role player in 2012-13.
Barton is exceptionally skilled at putting the ball in the basket, and that alone will earn him a fair amount of playing time pretty quickly. Like most young draft picks, his shot selection is questionable on occasion, but that will improve with experience and coaching. Portland’s selection of Barton was purely based on the best player available. He will be given a shot at making the team, and could be a valuable player coming off the bench.
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