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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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)
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.
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.
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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.
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.