Harrison Barnes: Best and Worst-Case NBA Player Comparisons for UNC Star

Chris Trapasso@ChrisTrapassoAnalyst IMay 29, 2012

GREENSBORO, NC - MARCH 18:  Harrison Barnes #40 of the North Carolina Tar Heels reacts as he runs down court next to Jahenns Manigat #12 of the Creighton Bluejays in the first half during the third round of the 2012 NCAA Men's Basketball Tournament at Greensboro Coliseum on March 18, 2012 in Greensboro, North Carolina.  (Photo by Streeter Lecka/Getty Images)
Streeter Lecka/Getty Images

Harrison Barnes is a supremely skilled basketball player—that's easy to recognize. But narrowing down his NBA prospectus and projecting his potential to current professionals is much more difficult. 

At 6'8'' and 223 pounds with a sound mid-range jumper, respectable abilities to finish at the rim and immense upside, the UNC star has the makeup to transition wonderfully to the NBA. 

But just to be safe, let's include a worst-case scenario player with every player comparison. 

Best Case Scenario 

More Athletic Than Paul Pierce

Projecting a future Hall of Famer is bold, but in Harrison Barnes' case, it's warranted. There's a sprinkle of Kevin Durant in Barnes, but in college, Durant was a more effective and consistent scorer, especially from distance. 

19 Feb 2000: Paul Pierce #34 of the Boston Celtics looks on the court during the game against the Seattle SuperSonics at the Key Arena in Seattle, Washington. The SuperSonics defeated the Celtics 94-91.     Mandatory Credit: Otto Greule Jr.  /Allsport
Otto Greule Jr/Getty Images

Although Pierce's speed and overall quickness at both ends of the court has drastically diminished throughout the course of his career, remember that when he entered the NBA in 1998 out of Kansas, he was known as a mid-range jump shooter with great offensive acumen and could certainly slash to the basket and score at will. 

Barnes is slightly more athletic than Pierce was, but their games are strikingly similar. Barnes isn't fabulous at creating his own shot, but he can typically release his silky-smooth jumper whenever he pleases. 

If he's defended tightly, he's capable of getting to the rim and at least drawing a foul. He has the frame and foot seed to become a sound defender, too. 

Like Pierce, Barnes' game isn't necessarily flashy, but his size, athletic talents and reliable jump-shot could make him a volume scorer at the next level.

Worst-Case Scenario 

Dorell Wright 

Because Barnes spent two years playing against top-level competition at North Carolina, he's a far more polished prospect now than Wright was in 2004. 

OAKLAND, CA - MARCH 25: Dorell Wright #1 of the Golden State Warriors is congratulated by Ekpe Udoh #20 of the Golden State Warriors after Wright made a basket during their game against the Toronto Raptors at Oracle Arena on March 25, 2011 in Oakland, Cal
Ezra Shaw/Getty Images

Due to his raw game, it took the lanky 6'9'' first-round pick a good five years to totally acclimate himself to the professional ranks. 

Barnes will have a much shorter learning curve than Wright, that's for sure. 

When he found himself in a position with the green-light on the Golden State Warriors in 2010, Wright made the most of it and averaged 16.4 points on 42 percent shooting. 

He's become a renowned three-point specialist and streaky jump-shooter. 

If Barnes finds himself on a team that prides itself on balanced scoring, his numbers could resemble Wright's over the last two seasons. 

Most Probable Scenario 

Danny Granger

Granger is a 6'9'', 225-pound do-it-all offensive playmaker for the Indiana Pacers. Coming out of New Mexico in 2005, he was a bit underrated, but no one questioned his ability as a scorer. 

INDIANAPOLIS, IN - MAY 08: Danny Granger #33 of the Indiana Pacers celebrates a late fourth quarter three point basket with David West #21while playing the Orlando Magic in Game Five of the Eastern Conference Quarterfinals during the 2012 NBA Playoffs on
Gregory Shamus/Getty Images

With a nice stroke from deep and the athleticism to slash into the painted area to shoot higher percentage shots, Granger's versatility may be his greatest asset. 

He has the tendency to fall back on his jumper rather than use his deceptive quick first step and size to get to the tin, but is still a capable and well-respected one-on-one scorer who can get hot from the outside, as well.

Granger is a dedicated defender who's passionate on that end of the floor. Barnes has the similar ability to shut down opposing small forwards at the pro ranks with his size and 7'0'' wingspan. 

The Pacers forward was named to the All-Star team in 2009, and Barnes will be looking to do the same for many years at the NBA level.