The Golden State Warriors drafted Harrison Barnes with the 7th pick in the 2012 NBA Draft hoping he could become one of the top two-way forwards in the league.
Although Barnes had a mediocre showing during the regular season in his rookie year, he filled in remarkably well for the injured David Lee in the playoffs. As a result, the expectations for his sophomore season rose and many believed Barnes was primed for a breakout season. Unfortunately, Barnes' production has stayed relatively stagnant ever since while his efficiency has decreased.
According to Basketball Reference, Harrison Barnes had a 9.8 PER last season, which was well below the league average (15.0 PER). The addition of Andre Iguodala last summer - which saw Barnes move into a 6th man role - may have stunted the sophomore's development. However, while Barnes received a slight uptick in minutes, he experienced a fallback from a statistical standpoint. The small forward posted lower shooting percentages in multiple categories (.399 FG%, .347 3P%, .419 2P% and .718 FT% compared to .439 FG%, .359 3P%, .464 2P% and .758 FT%).
Harrison Barnes is only 22 years old and he definitely still has room to grow. He used mismatches to his advantage well by taking bigs off the dribble and posting up smaller guys in the 2012 NBA Playoffs. Yet, Barnes is not a particularly good shot creator for himself or playmaker for his teammates. He has played the best ball of his young career as a small-ball power forward but with the emergence of Draymond Green, could the Warriors use him as a trade chip to address other team needs? It is clear that Barnes and Green have fairly contrasting skill sets and they can coexist with each other on the floor. Frankly, when you also factor in Klay Thompson's upcoming extension (or new contract depending if he hits restricted free agency), Golden State will have limited financial flexibility even with the rising cap.
The Warriors are in win-now mode but they still have some holes to fill in the roster. Could they flip Barnes for a go-to-scorer off the bench and another asset or future compensation? New head coach Steve Kerr mentioned in his intro press conference that he would like to obtain a stretch four. Would they be able to use Barnes as a centerpiece in a trade for someone like Ryan Anderson or Ersan Ilyasova? Maybe Golden State tries experimenting with starting Harrison Barnes at the 4 and bringing David Lee off the bench in the preseason. Or perhaps the Warriors just ride it out with Barnes as the 6th man and he makes huge strides next season, proving he can lead the bench unit.
What do you think the Warriors should do with Harrison Barnes? Let me know in the comments section below.