In a season so great with so many flaws it’s tough to find complaints, at least for most, but if you look hard enough, you can always find them. When a team goes 73-9, it’s hard to imagine wanting anything to go differently. However, there is close to a general consensus within the Warriors fan base that Harrison Barnes is not stepping up in any way, shape, or form that is justifying his rejection of a 4 year $64 million dollar contract before the season started.
Does Barnes deserve that offer?
Based on his numbers this year that was a generous offer. His play this year has not been well enough to justify the contract he rejected, let alone a larger deal he may have been aiming to get.
With the rise in cap space and with Harrison’s size, athleticism, and talent there will undoubtedly be suitors willing to pay him that higher figure. After all, he is only 23 years old and will most likely still improve minor aspects of his game that keep him short of his potential.
Hot start derailed by injury
The question is whether or not he’s worth it to the Warriors. In the season’s first month, every Warriors’ player who shot three point shots even semi regularly was shooting over 40%. Draymond, Barnes, Klay, Steph, everyone. Barnes even looked like he developed some new moves for his repertoire. He was attacking more, shooting great, creating his own shots, and developed a Livingston-esque turn around fade away. It looked like it was the start of his breakout year.
Then he sprained his ankle. Everyone’s numbers may have dipped a little as expected, but Harrison’s numbers took a larger drop off. He went from 48% from three point range before his ankle injury to finishing the year at 38% and 46% overall.
He did miss six weeks due to an ankle injury, but at some point you are expected to get back into rhythm. His mobility was fine the rest of the year so we can rule out any lingering issues with the ankle. Barnes has also been given plenty of opportunities to step up and show what he can do, to show he deserves that bigger contract.
Barnes could have stepped in for Curry
With Curry getting hurt you’d think Harrison would step up into a larger role, after all that’s a big chunk of scoring that needs to be accounted for. But even with Steph out in the playoffs, Barnes has shot an abysmal 29% from the field and 20% from three. He’s not taking any more shots than usual and it has been much more of a void filled by committee rather than just Barnes, with everyone stepping up.
You just can’t help buy ask why Barnes isn’t jumping at the opportunity to fill it himself. Is he not capable? Is Coach Kerr demanding it be done by committee to exercise confidence and the team’s trust even without Curry? Does he not want to be here? Or is Barnes just shying away because the pressure of a contract year after rejecting a 4 year $64 million dollar deal with half the fan base running Barnes out of town in favor of Durant just too much for him to handle?
How to replace Barnes?
It would be tough for the Warriors to replace Barnes and keep this lethal team intact. You can find someone who shoots like him, but they probably can’t defend or play the four spot in the small ball squad like him.
They might defend like him, but they probably can’t shoot or attack the basket like him. They may score 20 points on any given night, but may not be willing to see their shot totals for the game shrink to five or six most nights, because Steph and/or Klay are unconscious, without ever so much as a complaint.
Even though he’s responsible for his situation, whether it be because he held out for more money to bet on himself or because he didn’t work hard enough to rehab his ankle and return to play in less than 6 weeks, it’s tough to not feel for the guy.
Barnes needs to step up for Golden State or another contract
Regardless of the reason for his inability to score much, one thing is for certain. Stepping up, attacking, and scoring is in Harrison’s best interest whether he wants to be a role player here or a star somewhere else. He has to prove to teams he can handle that role, and his performance, so far, with Steph sidelined may deter other teams and cause doubt about whether he can handle that load.
It’s up in the air right now. Other teams will have the chance to buy him at a price the Warriors cannot afford or are unwilling to pay. Barnes will have the choice to stay or leave, and the Warriors will have the choice on whether or not they want him. One thing is for sure nobody knows where Harrison Barnes is.
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