At age 28, Harrison Barnes has already had what some may call a storied career. He started for the winningest regular season team in NBA history, possesses countless postseason exposure, and has an NBA title under his belt.
Coming to Sacramento two seasons ago, he hasn’t gotten the love and respect he might deserve. This is, in part, due to the fact that the he’s been unable to help lead the Kings to the playoffs as a player making $20M+ a year.
Lack of credit has not deterred Barnes in any way. He is what one may call a true professional who continuously works hard to get better, gives it his all on the floor, and provides a great knowledge of the game.
Although Barnes might not be the fastest or the most exciting player on the court, he relies heavily on fundamentals— something that separates him from many other players.
Sticking to the basics and playing to his strengths, Barnes continues to excel during the early part of this season and it seems some players are struggling to slow down his grown-man game.
Perhaps Barnes’ greatest move is his slow and leisurely euro step.
While we see a lot of NBA players focus on the speed with which they attack the basket, Barnes slows it down, stretching out his euro step and sending defenders flying by and not knowing how to defend.
For a player that isn’t too quick, Barnes’ slow euro shows his maturity and adaptability in today’s league.
Attacking the Basket
In a league that has moved outside of the paint and beyond the arc, Barnes is not afraid to attack the basket.
Although Barnes can hit the three at a great rate (career 37.5% 3PT) his shot involves a lengthier set motion.
Being aware of his slower shot and usually being guarded tight on the perimeter due to his three point shooting ability, Barnes takes advantage of these circumstances by putting the ball on the floor and getting past his defender on his way to the rim.
While most players might have no problem heaving up contested threes, Barnes sticks to high percentage looks and isn’t afraid to make the extra pass, even if it sacrifices a potential three pointer in favor of an efficient two.
Additionally, Barnes is not afraid to draw contact. He realizes that attacking the basket can lead to fouls and free buckets from the charity stripe, and as a result he is currently second on the team, behind De’Aaron Fox, attempting 4.4 free throws per contest.
Staying inside the arc, Barnes possesses some of the best post moves for a non big man. While working on the block tends to be more for power forwards and centers, Barnes is spectacular at working his opponents in the low post.
When the Kings need either a bucket or to slow down the pace, giving it to Barnes in the paint is a reliable option for the team. At 6-8, 225 lbs, undersized or inexperienced interior defenders have trouble stopping Barnes on the block who exhibits excellent footwork and finishing ability.
You can’t be a pro’s pro without playing solid defense. Barnes proves time and time again that he isn’t a modern day player that focuses solely on offense and lags on the defensive end.
Barnes always brings strong defense when on the floor and is one of the main reasons he’s out there to start and close games.
Although his defensive rating might not seem elite, he’s much better than the advanced stat leads you to believe. He can move around with most on the perimeter and has no problem going to battle in the post.
On top of his versatility on that end of the floor, Barnes shows veteran discretion as he rarely fouls and currently leads the regular rotation players with 0.8 fouls per game.
Out of all of Barnes’ strengths, his leadership is his best and most vital quality.
Even at 28 years old, Barnes is seen as the veteran of the team. He has experience in countless playoffs games as well as two Finals appearances to go along with a championship ring, and even has a gold medal in the Olympics.
It’s not just his experience, but his work ethic and behavior. A true professional, Barnes provides exemplary behavior on the court, on the bench, and in the community.
Having a proven winner and leader like Barnes is crucial when developing young talent like Fox, Bagley, and Haliburton. With Barnes paving the way to show young players what it takes to flourish in this league, the youngsters have a sterling role model to succeed. He has a strong work ethic, takes great care of his body, and is constantly pushing himself beyond limits and expectations, even on off days.
Barnes has had a great start to the season, and although his modest game might go unnoticed at times, it’s refreshing to know that we have a true pro on the team and on the floor in key situations.
He may not have gotten all the love he’s deserved in his first season and a half, but he is a big reason why the Kings are 4-4 on the season and not any worse. With his strong performance out of the gate to start this year, it’s reassuring to see him receiving the appreciation he’s always warranted.