NBA Draft 2012: Why the Golden State Warriors Must Draft Harrison Barnes

Steve Maze@N/ACorrespondent IIJune 25, 2012

NBA Draft 2012: Why the Golden State Warriors Must Draft Harrison Barnes

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    As the Golden State Warriors prepare for the 2012 NBA draft, the clock continues to tick down towards their seventh overall selection.

    Assuming the Warriors stay located in the seven hole, and assuming Anthony Davis doesn't fall six spots, there is no guy the Warriors "MUST" draft—rather a short list of instant impact guys the Warriors should consider.

    I don't want to over-hype the 2012 NBA draft out of fear of applying added pressure to the Golden State Warriors management, but this could be the most important draft since 2001 and likely could have the greatest impact as the Warriors rebuild for a move to San Francisco.

    This upcoming draft is deep because of the recent sophomores who opted to return to school when the NBA was in flux during labor talks last summer. Therefore, with the Warriors having four draft picks, they can obtain a solid cast of players even in the second round.

    All that said though, it starts with the seventh overall pick where the Warriors cannot afford another missed opportunity. If available, the Warriors should draft Harrison Barnes out of the University of North Carolina, as he seems to be the ideal fit for multiple reasons.

Stat Sheet Filler

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    Here are the numbers Barnes produced during his two years at Chapel Hill.

    Freshman Year:

    15.7 PPG, 5.8 RPG, 1.4 APG, 42.3% FG

    Sophomore Year:

    17.1 PPG, 5.2 RPG, 1.1 APG, 44% FG

    Yes, his rebounds and assists per game fell from his first to his second year, but remember who Barnes played with. Fellow teammates Tyler Zeller, Kendall Marshall and John Henson are all projected to be first-round picks after their improved 2011-2012 seasons.

    Consider that Marshall (the best true passing point guard in the draft) carried the team in assists and bigs Zeller and Henson dominated the boards, and it is not surprising that Barnes has relatively low rebounding and assist numbers.

    While Barnes is by no means a great passer or rebounder, he is good enough that his numbers will improve in the NBA when he will see more assisting and rebounding opportunities.

    Basically, don't let low assist and rebounding averages shy you away from Barnes—he's the real deal. Offensively, his jump shot could use more range, but from the wing he is a slasher and strong finisher, which is currently absent on the Warriors roster.

Former "Can't-Miss Guy"

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    During his high school career, Barnes was one of the most sought-after recruits in the 2010 class. Fielding offers from all the top schools, Barnes had many experts dub him the top overall recruit.

    After committing to North Carolina, Barnes started his freshman season by being named a preseason All-American—the first time ever a true freshman received such an honor.

    Along with all these accolades, Barnes is a proven winner—something the Warriors desperately need.

    Both his junior and senior years in high school finished with a state championship and undefeated record.

    In college, his two years at North Carolina included two trips to the Elite Eight, where they fell to powerhouses Kentucky and Kansas.

    Wherever drafted, Barnes will bring the winning mentality he has grown accustomed to over the last four years—a factor no statistic can measure.

    Although he may not be the "can't-miss guy" he was in high school, Barnes is still a superb talent and the Warriors would be thrilled to have him.

Potential Immediate Starter

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    If the Warriors are lucky enough to have Barnes fall into their laps at No. 7, he would likely compete with Dorrell Wright and Klay Thompson to fill out the rest of the starting five.

    Barnes is used to starting right away, as was the case when he entered North Carolina.

    As stated earlier, the Warriors currently don't have a guy who can catch the ball on the wing and make a strong move to the basket. Barnes would change that.

    Assuming he isn't too much of a liability defensively, his promise offensively merits consideration for a starting role.

    With all this being hypothetical, Barnes seems the best reasonable selection for the Warriors. Unfortunately, there are five other teams ahead of the Warriors not drafting Anthony Davis who could use Barnes.

    So will the Warriors get Barnes?

    Maybe not, since the NBA draft is less predictable after the first few picks. If available at No. 7 though, he is likely the best option and the Warriors should not pass him up.