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NBA Draft Analysis: Why Harrison Barnes Makes the Warriors Playoff Contenders

NEWARK, NJ - JUNE 28:  Harrison Barnes (R) of North Carolina greets NBA Commissioner David Stern (L) after he was selected number seven overall by the Golden State Warriors during the first round of the 2012 NBA Draft at Prudential Center on June 28, 2012 in Newark, New Jersey. NOTE TO USER: User expressly acknowledges and agrees that, by downloading and/or using this Photograph, user is consenting to the terms and conditions of the Getty Images License Agreement.  (Photo by Elsa/Getty Images)
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Matt ShetlerCorrespondent IJune 29, 2012

The Golden State Warriors had some needs that were addressed during Thursday night's draft and after they got lucky enough to see North Carolina's Harrison Barnes fall to them at No. 7, their next stop could be the NBA playoffs.

Entering the draft, it appeared doubtful that the Warriors would be able to land the small forward they desperately needed via trade and it also seemed quite doubtful that Barnes or another one of the drafts' top wing players would fall to them with the seventh pick.

Yet they were fortunate enough to land Barnes and overall put together an outstanding draft that also produced Vanderbilt’s Festus Ezeli and Michigan State’s Draymond Green.

All three will impact this year’s Warriors club, but it will be Barnes who can impact Golden State enough to get them into the playoffs.

Barnes has the talent to become a No. 1 scoring option in the NBA and one day it wouldn’t be surprising to see him be a 20-plus point per game scorer.

Add him to a potential starting lineup that already includes Stephen Curry, Klay Thompson, David Lee and Andrew Bogut and the Warriors should have more than enough talent to compete.

Barnes can play two positions for the Warriors and can help rebound the ball, but the main thing he brings is the potential to be a legit No. 1 scoring option on the wing. Barnes averaged 15.7 and 17.1 points per game in his two seasons at UNC, becoming one of only six North Carolina players to average at least 15 points as a freshman and sophomore.

The 6’8” Barnes can pull up for a pretty jumper, can catch and shoot well, and is a solid defender. He may have to work on creating more for himself, but in what projects to be a solid Warriors lineup, Barnes seems to be exactly what they need.

In addition, Golden State adds size in Ezeli, who can help out on the boards and at the defensive end and a player in Green who is a coach’s dream.

Green isn’t great at any one thing, but he’s good at just about everything.

This draft produced three players that not only filled needs, but three young players who head coach Mark Jackson should love.

It all starts with Barnes though who adds some serious firepower to the Golden State lineup.

The Warriors got better as a team overnight and improved not only offensively, but defensively, which was the team’s biggest concern.

If Barnes projects to what his skill set says he’s capable of, the Warriors could be going from lottery team to the playoffs in one season.

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