Dime NBA Draft Profile: Harrison Barnes

By: 06.12.12
Harrison Barnes

Harrison Barnes (photo. UNC Athletic Communications)

They used to call it one of the best draft classes of the last 25 years. Now, it’s looking more and more like Anthony Davis… and then everybody else. Still, on June 28, the 2012 NBA Draft will bring hope, and hopefully new talent to some teams that desperately need it.

As we do every year, Dime will be holding you down with Mock Drafts, player interviews and diaries (you should check out Dion Waiters‘ draft diary), and we will also be bringing you draft profiles for every potential prospect deemed worthy. With this year’s crop of talent, that list is long. Our last profile was on the future of St. John’s Moe Harkless. Today, we looked at the overrated/underrated Harrison Barnes.

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PLAYER COMPARISONS:
Best case: Paul Pierce
Worst case: Bonzi Wells
Final comparison: Luol Deng

Ratings (on a scale of 1-10, 1 being overseas talent and 10 being NBA Rookie Of The Year)

Athleticism
Harrison Barnes’ athleticism is limited, despite testing out incredibly well at the combine (a 38-inch standing vertical is unreal). His first step isn’t quite as quick enough as it needs to be for him to be a consistent scorer. After the catch, he too often looks to pull up after a dribble or two. He struggles getting to the basket, but when he does he has the ability to finish or get to the foul line. He’s not your average explosive wing player. He’s more smooth and crafty, along the lines of Paul Pierce.
Grade: 6

Skill
Skill-wise, there’s no question that Barnes is ready to play at the next level. He thrives at what most prospects struggle with. His mid-range game might be the most polished out of any prospect in the draft. He possesses great footwork and rises high on his pull-up jumpers. His shooting ability will be his strongest asset in the League, while he’ll have to become better at attacking the basket. He has an NBA-ready handle, good enough to take care of the basketball, but not good enough to break defenders down just yet.
Grade: 7

[RELATED: Dime Mock Draft 2.0]

NBA Readiness
Harrison Barnes is without a doubt one of the most NBA-ready prospects in the draft. He has the size of a true small forward at 6-8 and 228 pounds. His size and strength will allow him to hold his own on the NBA stage right away. He’ll have to ride his shooting ability to become a consistent scoring threat, but once he begins knocking down shots with fluidity it will make it a lot easier for him to get to the basket. Right now his game is too one-dimensional. Going forward, versatility will be the key for Barnes. Although Paul Pierce isn’t the most athletic forward in the league, he’s one of the most versatile. He’s a master of the pull-up jumper, which Barnes has the potential to do. He has those crafty dribble moves and fakes to get open shots, which Barnes likes to do as well. So when you think of what type of player Barnes can turn out to be, think of a younger, less versatile Paul Pierce.
Grade: 8

Upside
If Harrison Barnes reaches his potential, he could turn out to be a superstar. However, for him to reach that level he’s going to have to become significantly better at one particular thing: creating shots for himself off the dribble. Barnes is great at catching and shooting. He’s also great at catching, taking a dribble east or west and pulling up. But he too often shys away from going north/south. He must improve his ability to get to the rim and use that strength to finish. When Kendall Marshall was injured, Barnes inability to really create offensively was exposed. For him to fulfill his potential, he’ll have to become significantly better at getting his own buckets. If he can get better at creating for himself, he can turn out to be an efficient scorer in the League. He has all the tools, but hasn’t put them together just yet.
Grade: 7

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Intangibles
Barnes is a high character prospect who can immediately impact the morale of your team. He has the attitude of a player who desires to be great. Coming out of high school, he was the No. 1-ranked recruit, but never really lived up to that standard in college. That motivates him and you can tell he wants to get better. He’s a player that’s willing to sacrifice his own success for team success, as you saw in college. His work ethic and desire to be great will ultimately make him one of the gems in this draft in the long run. Worst comes to worst, he doesn’t really develop his skills offensively and gets buy on his raw abilities.
Grade: 9

Combined Score: 37 out of a possible 50 points

Best Fit: Cleveland Cavaliers
Cleveland has already built a relationship with Harrison Barnes. They don’t really have a small forward with a future over there and Barnes can fill that void. Before he made the decision to go back to school, Cleveland was very close to committing to drafting him. Now with Kyrie Irving already there, it almost seems like an ideal situation. Barnes would be most effective in a situation where he didn’t have to carry the scoring load on his shoulders right away. A couple of years as a catch and shoot threat will help get his confidence up to expand his game a little bit. Kyire Irving has already proven he is capable of creating shots for himself as well as his teammates. Harrison Barnes could play off of Kyrie for a few years, and then emerge as Cleveland’s No. 1 scoring threat in two or three seasons.

OUTSIDE OPINION:
“The Cavaliers are very high on the 20-year-old small forward and appear unlikely to let him slip past them at the No. 4 slot in the June 28 draft, according to sources. While this week’s predraft combine in Chicago and subsequent team workouts could always change things, rival executives are planning for Barnes to be off the board by the time the fifth pick (Sacramento) rolls around.

‘He’s a pretty big deal to them,’ one such executive said.

Barnes, a skilled and versatile scorer and a capable defender, would be the sort of two-way threat that coach Byron Scott values. He averaged 17.1 points (on 44 percent shooting from the field and 35.8 percent from three-point range) and 5.2 rebounds as a sophomore, though he shot just 32.8 percent overall and 26 percent from beyond the arc while averaging 14 points in four games during the NCAA tournament. And considering he once announced his decision to attend North Carolina during a nationally televised segment on ESPN in which he picked between six suitors, maybe Barnes is destined for Cleveland.” – Sam Amick, SI.com

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