Harrison Barnes Where Art Thou?

If the Warriors lose Game 7, if their NBA Finals dream goes up in a smoke thicker than the Santa Ana winds, if the Warriors don’t repeat as champions and if their 73 win historic season becomes nothing more than a regular season footnote without a dramatic ending, then you can point to Harrison Barnes.

It was Harrison Barnes who was asked to fill in when Draymond Green was mercilessly exiled for one game and it was Harrison Barnes who did nothing. It was Harrison Barnes who was then asked to recover from a bad game, go into Cleveland and leave an imprint on the court, and it was Harrison Barnes who did nothing.

Thus the Warriors are here, having blown a lead and forced to win Game 7 at Oracle. It’s not one player’s fault. The Warriors defense has been pretty crappy. Steve Kerr can’t figure out how to scheme Kyrie Irving. LeBron James has been spectacular. Steph Curry has struggled. All those things are true. But Harrison Barnes has been a ghost. He is the only player in the NBA Finals playing so far below his talent ceiling he is more of an illusion than he is a dynamic athlete on the hunt for a max deal.

Harrison Barnes should be playing better than this. He is better than this. He is stringing us along for the ride, turning believers into haters.

Invisible Man, Harrison Barnes Points FG% 3-Point% Rebounds Offensive Rating
NBA Finals, 2015 8.8 37.3% 42.1% 5.8 107
NBA Finals, 2016 9.2 36.1% 28.0% 4.8 91

Usually in situations of free agency, when a player has money on the brain, when he is trying to prove he is more than a 4th option, when he is asking for teams to give him a max deal, usually he does more not less. But the Harrison Barnes NBA Finals resume that is suppressing his summer money is the crumbs he is spreading around which is changing the entire Harrison Barnes narrative. On a big stage, in a big moment, he has been impotent.

Harrison Barnes is shooting 36.1% and 28% from three. In 6 games, he has 6 offensive rebounds. In 6 games, he has 9 assists. In 6 games, he has 4 steals. In 6 games, he has 3 blocks.

In 6 games, Harrison Barnes has 4 turnovers. His defensive rating is 111 and his offensive rating is 91. Translation: he can’t score. He can’t keep anyone else from scoring.

His last two games have been as ugly as a back side of a pig. In Game 6, he shot 0%. Eight shots left his hand, five threes. All misses. He had 0 assists and 0 steals and 2 rebounds and his plus-minus was -20. What was so problematic about everything he couldn’t do was that Andre Iguodala was struggling with a pained back. Barnes being able to take up the slack may have kept the game from getting ridiculously out of hand. But he was a ghost on the court. He was a stranger.

In Game 5, Harrison Barnes made 14.2% of his shots. He was a 16% three point shooter. He had 5 rebounds and 1 assist and 1 steal. His plus-minus was -6. This was a less is less performance. Barnes was supposed to become the third option since Draymond Green was out. But his 5 points was not what the Warriors needed in an elimination, lets win the title game.

What Harrison Barnes people want to convince you of is that Strength In Numbers has required him to sacrifice. He is doing what he is asked but he is better than what you see and given the opportunity and more shots he will give more. He deserves a max extension on talent alone and no one argues Barnes is a talented athlete. But in the 2016 Finals he has been ordinary and average and not very good.

He’s costing himself a lot of money but at this moment in time that’s besides the point. On Sunday night, the Warriors need Barnes to show up with confidence. What happens after July 1st is what happens after July 1st. But on Sunday night, for the Warriors to finish the season the right way, Harrison Barnes has to be part of it.  He has to do something.


photo via llananba