Harrison Barnes: Has He Been Worth It?

A little more than three years ago when Harrison Barnes played on Christmas Day, his stat line of 12 points on 38% shooting but 13 rebounds was a perfect illustration of Barnes as a player. There was always going to be some ying and yang, pluses and minuses.  It was hard to wrap your arms around Barnes as a player because he often disappeared and then he often made big shots and then he often was invisible again. He wasn’t on the fast track to stardom but he did have a very specific skillset and often, it appeared, he was very comfortable existing in someone else’s light, rather than creating his own and basking in it.

When he joined the Mavericks after being on a title team in Oakland, the perception of Harrison Barnes was mixed. Many thought he needed a resurrection. Others believed he was the same person, just in a different uniform, who came up way short and appeared frozen at times, scared even. It was a no-brainer, the Warriors were not going to re-sign him, his 2016 NBA Finals notwithstanding. It wasn’t all Barnes fault. He just made the decision very easy with his performance. Even if Durant went elsewhere, the Warriors were looking for excuses not to re-sign Barnes.

In sports, geography can change the always fragile perception meter. Pages can be turned.

The face of the franchise for any team has to carry the team to wins and furthermore he has to be good enough to convince other talent to want to join him. The Mavs aren’t there yet. They are hoping for lottery magic despite having a max player in Barnes.

But, still the question remains, has Barnes delivered on his promise? Can Barnes make a franchise better or carry a francise or be relevant in a franchise? Is he a number one option?

No . No. No. No. Please, no. He is playing fewer minutes than last season, taking fewer shots, draining more free throws. His defensive rebounds are way up, his offensive rebounds are slightly down, his PER is near identical to last season. All-Star players cross the 20.0 PER but Barnes PER is only 16.0. It’s never been above 16.3.

The negatives persist: his defensive rating is terrible. His three ball is nothing like it was with the Warriors and he’s struggling with mid-range shots.

Barnes has suffered on the road, particularly on the defensive end. His three ball is considerably worse away from Dallas, and he doesn’t get to the line as much.

Then and Now Points FG% 3-Point% Rebounds Off. Rating
Golden State Warriors 10.1 44.6% 37.6% 4.6 108
Dallas Mavericks 19.0 45.8% 35.7% 5.6 106

If he is not going to be an All-Star anytime soon, and he doesn’t make you better as far as wins and losses so a lot of his points are empty points,  is his $24 million the best use of money? Say the Mavs sign an offer sheet for Julius Randle because they are desperate for a power forward and points in the paint. Is Barnes necessary? Is he worth what he is being paid?

At the time, signing Barnes was a big deal.  It checked a big box for the Mavs future. A max free agent is hard to come by but Barnes doesn’t have max free agent game. Harrison Barnes is a very good player and on some nights he is special. You can pencil him in for 17-19 points. But he doesn’t carry a team even though he is being paid to carry a team.

Dallas gave Barnes the opportunity to meet his potential. We see who he is. No resurrection, like Mavs fans hoped for. Everyone can’t be a Steph Curry star.  But Barnes can compliment a superstar and it would be perfect if he made less money. Dennis Smith Jr. is going to be  a stud in a couple of years. He is averaging more points in his rookie year than Barnes averaged years one, two, three and four. Pair Smith Jr. with the right forward and Harrison Barnes is irrelevant.

Like he is on many a Mavericks night, a team that has lost 101 games since he has been in town.

photo via llananba