To-Do List for Harrison Barnes to Return Even Better Next Season
Granted, we hit the standard small sample size trope here, but there were more than that at play in the playoffs. With David Lee going down, we got to see what Barnes, switching to power forward for the rest of the Denver series, would do with not only more shots, but with more space to maneuver to those shots.
That being said, the larger 82-game sample did expose some of Barnes' weaknesses, and since he is at the infancy of his basketball career, Barnes will have the time and opportunity to fix any deficiencies to his game.
But it isn't as easy as just hitting the gym everyday, working with a trainer and being immediately granted 35-plus minutes in your sophomore season. Keep in mind, Lee is still on the team and by all intents and purposes, he is Mark Jackson and the management's favorite player and will continue to receive plenty of playing time, bad defense or not.
Lee's presence could prove to be an obstacle to Barnes' development, but it's something that is out of his control. We can only hope that the Warriors figure out that their strength is three-point shooting and tough perimeter defense and less of the two-point shot Lee-offense and bad defense.
The first thing Barnes can do in the offseason is working on his handle. He rarely got the chance to run the pick-and-roll, and if the Warriors' offense were to hit the next stage, he'd have to become more of a focal point.
According to Synergy Sports, only nine percent of his plays were on pick-and-rolls.
On several occasions on broken plays, Barnes used his dribble to get to a spot to pass and not to attack. The aimless dribbling neither helped the team nor himself.
This leads to the another area of improvement: his aggressiveness. The contrast between his shot selection and Klay Thompson's was, at times, dramatic this past season and is something to watch for next year.
Thompson shot a lot early in the shot clock and one could argue that Barnes didn't shoot enough. Perhaps due to the heavy use of pick-and-roll sets, the Warrior's offensive philosophy is probably shifting towards that of the Houston Rockets—except with a little more control.
According to 82games.com, Thompson and Barnes shot the ball from zero to 10 feet 42 and 36 percent of the time, respectively. That's good for Thompson, even though he often struggles to finish at the rim, but Barnes' number is way too low, especially when taking into account his athleticism and finishing ability.
Though Barnes won't match the rebounding prowess Lee brings to the team, any improvements second-year forward makes in terms of ball-handling and play recognition can force Mark Jackson's hand to feature him in the offense.
Giving Barnes more minutes is good. But giving Barnes more rope on offense is even more important.
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