RTC NBA Draft Profiles: Harrison BarnesPosted by EJacoby on June 26th, 2012
The 2012 NBA Draft is scheduled for Thursday, June 28, in New York City. As we have done for the last several years, RTC’s team of writers (including Andrew Murawa, Kevin Doyle, Evan Jacoby, Matt Patton, and Danny Spewak) will provide comprehensive breakdowns of each of the 35 collegians most likely to hear his name called by David Stern in the first round on draft night. We’ll work backwards, starting with players who are projected near the end of the first round before getting into the lottery as June progresses. As an added bonus, we’ll also bring you a scouting take from NBADraft.net’s Aran Smith at the bottom of each player evaluation.
Note: Click here for all published 2012 NBA Draft profiles.
Player Name: Harrison Barnes
School: North Carolina
Height/Weight: 6’8” / 230 lbs.
NBA Position: Small Forward
Projected Draft Range: High Lottery
Overview: Harrison Barnes became the first ever freshman to be named on the preseason All-American team back in 2010-11, as the #1 recruit in his class was expected to become a monster contributor immediately for North Carolina. That tells you all you need to know about Barnes’ highly scrutinized career. He had a longer adjustment period than expected, but Barnes had become an easy 15-20 point scorer by the end of his freshman season. As a sophomore, he averaged 17.1 points, 5.2 rebounds, and 1.1 steals per game as a steady contributor on both ends. But he never truly lived up to expectations, as Barnes was not a dominant player during his two seasons, and he struggled in his final run of last year’s NCAA Tournament. Nonetheless, he remains an elite prospect with prototypical small forward size and athleticism. He has an extremely polished mid-range game that features advanced pump fakes, jab steps, and of course a great jump shot. His 6’8” and strong frame allows him to get his shots up over anybody, and he has range out to the three-point line. He’s added 15 pounds since his freshman year and was the best overall athlete at the Draft Combine, recording the fastest three-quarter court sprint and highest standing vertical leap amongst other notable numbers. Barnes does not attack the basket like his physical profile and skill set suggest he can, which leaves reason to believe he can eventually become a more complete offensive weapon. While he may never reach the Kobe Bryant-like comparisons that were made in high school, Barnes is a safe bet to be a consistent scoring threat in the NBA with solid athleticism and a strong feel for the game on both ends.
Will Translate to the NBA: It says a lot that Barnes scored 17 PPG as a sophomore for the 32-6 Tar Heels yet still was considered somewhat of a disappointment. He scores with ease, possessing what will be one of the better mid-range skill sets in the league when he arrives. His well-documented strong work ethic is a great asset to have as a young player that will help him develop quicker. Barnes’ size, strength, and quickness made him a solid defender at UNC but he has a chance to be a real impact player on that end as he gains more confidence in his ability. Great form on his jump shot should lead to better shooting numbers in the league.
Needs Work: Barnes has all the tools in the world but still has not put it all together in an efficient manner. His mediocre true shooting percentage (52.8%) and offensive rating (108.1) can improve quickly if he develops a stronger dribble-drive game and seeks to attack the basket. He prefers to pull up for jumpers rather than get to the rim, a habit that his NBA coaches will hope to break. He’s also a very limited passer, compiling a sorry 1.1 assists per game last season on a team loaded with weapons surrounding the small forward. He must add more to his game as a playmaker if he’s going to justify a top five selection.
Comparison Players: There are lots of good comps for Barnes, ranging from retired former mid-range threats like Glen Rice and Sean Elliott to current Indiana Pacer Danny Granger. Barnes has an ‘old school’ kind of game in which he relies more on fundamentals and basketball intelligence than he does explosive athleticism. Guys like Rice and Granger had or have similarly polished perimeter games with perfect small forward size that allowed them to become All-Stars. Barnes’ shot even looks a lot like Rice’s, though he’ll need to improve his three-point shooting from NBA range.
Best Case Scenario: Barnes seems like he doesn’t really understand yet how good can be. He doesn’t take the ball to the basket with the confidence you’d expect, and he doesn’t seek to lock down his man on defense with enough intensity… yet. If he gains the confidence to do these things at the NBA level, Barnes has borderline All-Star upside. He’s not the explosive athlete of a Kobe Bryant, but he’s still a smooth wing and prototypical small forward that should have a long career in the league. One of the safest options in this stacked draft, Barnes has perhaps the highest ‘floor’ of any top prospect not named Anthony Davis. It’ll be a surprise if he doesn’t average at least 16-18 points during his peak NBA years.
Best NBA Fit: Scouring the top of the draft where Barnes is projected, he’d be a fit for any of the teams drafting #2-#5. The Cleveland Cavaliers are a strong fit at #4, in search of a long term small forward ever since a guy named James left via free agency. He’d be part of a nice nucleus alongside Tristan Thompson, Anderson Varejao, and his buddy Kyrie Irving, one of the league’s blossoming stars. The Sacramento Kings at #5 also have some nice young pieces and need to find their ‘three’ of the future as well. Both of these teams already have other young stars to help take the pressure off Barnes to be the main guy from day one.
Scout’s Take (from NBADraft.net): “Barnes 38-inch no-step jump jumped off the page for scouts dispelling any notions about him being unathletic.”
*This post was contributed by RTC’s Evan Jacoby. He can be found on Twitter @evanJacoby.