In five summer league games in Las Vegas, Harrison Barnes not only displayed talent, but the confidence to immediately provide an impact for the Warriors.
The seventh overall pick served as a key component to Golden State’s successful run in summer league, averaging 16.8 points, 5.6 rebounds and 1.8 steals per game.
While his shooting from the field wasn’t impressive, connecting on 39.5 percent of his attempts from the field, his shooting touch from long range was remarkable, as he connected on 57.1 percent of his attempts from 3-point range.
More importantly, Barnes established himself as the go-to scorer when the Warriors needed him most.
During Saturday’s contest, the Hornets threatened to hand Golden State its first loss in summer league play. New Orleans pulled to within two with just over three minutes remaining, then Barnes took over.
Although he finished with just 13 points, matching his lowest output in five games, he calmly converted on consecutive possessions with the game still in jeopardy.
A running jumper from the foul line doubled the lead for Golden State, then Barnes knocked down a step back jumper, while clearly being hit on the shot and not getting a foul call, to preserve the Warriors perfect record in summer league competition.
Barnes believes his game is better suited for the NBA and could entrench himself in Golden State’s starting lineup next season.
“I like isolation basketball. That’s what the NBA is slowly turning into,” Barnes told the Washington Post. “Maybe that means my game is more suited to the pro level. This is all you do now, your job is simply to go out and play basketball. I think I’ll be able to penetrate. I think my game will be able to flourish.”
The demand for talented defenders on the wing has never been higher.
Batum averaged 13.9 points, 4.6 rebounds and one steal per game while shooting 39 percent from 3-point range.
As Barnes steps into Golden State’s up-tempo offense, averaging 97.8 points per game, he can be expected to put up similar numbers.
The Warriors desperately need production from the small forward position and have already cleared the way for Barnes to see extended playing time on the floor.
As the top prospect from the high school class of 2010, Barnes was selected a pre-season All-American prior to the start of both of his seasons with North Carolina.
While his time at North Carolina is viewed as a dissapointment, because he was unable to lead the Tar Heels to a national championship, he still showed flashes of greatness.
For his college career, he averaged 16.4 points and 5.5 rebounds per game, but prior to the NBA draft, there were questions about his desire to continue to elevate his game.
While he is a talented athlete, Barnes could have justifiably been selected second overall behind Kentucky’s Anthony Davis, was rumored to slip no further than fourth as Cleveland was looking to pair him with Kyrie Irving, the 2012 Rookie of the Year.
Once the selection process started, Barnes was the player that saw his stock tumble, as his preference of taking spot up jump shots instead of attacking the rim caused concern in NBA front offices.
The 6-foot-8 small forward has an opportunity to become just the second player selected seventh overall to win Rookie of the Year honors, joining point guard Damon Stoudamire.
While Barnes has played well this summer, he is still looking for guidance to sustain continued success in his professional career.
The Warriors were the only team to finish with a perfect record in summer league play and are hoping the victories are just beginning for Barnes.