Tag Archives: barnes
The debate between drafting Bradley Beal or Harrison Barnes (as it applies to the Wizards) is one that we’re all going to hear over and over again, likely, for a while into their careers. Both players are great shooters and great scorers who address Washington’s two biggest needs: shooting guard and small forward. With an ample supply of big men in Nene, Kevin Seraphin, and Trevor Booker already in the stable, the Wizards might want to or even have a chance to take Thomas Robinson. So then, the conversation flows back to the next two prospects, Beal and Barnes. While Barnes grades out to be the better athlete and (to this point in his career) scorer, Beal is younger and has drawn some serious comparisons to Ray Allen with his quick release and all-around game. The two would immediately come in and provide a perimeter threat sorely needed in Washington. The question is, who do you take?
By my estimation, it’s Harrison Barnes.
On Twitter yesterday, someone brought up a great point by posing this rhetorical question: Which position needs an upgrade more, Jordan Crawford or Chris Singleton? I’ve been such a huge critic of Jordan Crawford and his inability to be effective in basically any aspect of the game that I immediately decided Crawford. I really don’t think he has what it takes to be a starter in the NBA because when his shot isn’t falling he becomes invisible. His impact on the game is marginal at best, and good starters excel in something even when the buckets are bouncing out. Amongst all guard (shooting or point), Jordan Crawford always ends up in the middle of the pack. Except when it comes to shooting, wherein he remains one of the worst (40% from the field).
Crawford is as streaky as they come in terms of being a shooter, with little or no concern at the defensive end. He is a Jamal Crawford clone, which means his only way to be effective is by inevitably becoming a sixth man specialist. But was he so terrible as a starter that we unequivocally need to revoke his privileges right now and draft a very young rookie to start in his place? At one point last season, when Jordan was finding his groove, he rattled off 7 straight games of 20 or more points. During those games the Wizards were just starting to turn the corner to success, and suffered two 2 point losses, a 3 point loss, and a 4 point loss. Against a few playoff teams to boot. And it shows the impact that Crawford has when his shot is going in. Sure, that fact is not necessarily that often, but with age comes better shot selection, and one can see how Crawford might become a smarter player given more time to acclimate himself with the professional game.
Bradley Beal may actually provide a downgrade to Jordan Crawford at this point, believe it or not. Young guards tend to not be that effective in their first season at the professional level. Just ask Evan Turner, Ben Gordon, Brandon Knight, Wes Johnson, Xavier Henry, Brandon Jennings or anyone not named Marcus Thorton, Stephen Curry, or Eric Gordon. Eric Gordon, the guy whom Beal draws the most comparisons with, was a much, much better college player than Bradley Beal was. He averaged nearly 21 points per game, and while he did struggle with consistency at times, didn’t have the concerns Beal has. I’m not saying that in the future Beal doesn’t become a six-time All-Star and one of the best scorers to ever play the game, I’m just saying when it comes to next year, Beal is more than likely going to struggle.
So I ask again: is Jordan Crawford really the guy we want to replace instead of Chris Singleton? Well, if you thought Jordan was bad, then make sure you don’t have any hot beverages around you because Singleton was historically terrible. Chris Singleton was the worst small forward in the NBA last year by just about any standard you’d like to put him up against. On a team where anyone who could score would be allowed the ball plus plentiful times to shoot said ball, Singleton couldn’t manage. Nine double digit scoring games in 66 games (51 starts). Zero double digit rebounding games; zero games with five assists or more; dead last amongst all small forwards in scoring, rebounding, you name it. It wasn’t a good year for him, as he was forced into a starting role which he was not qualified to handle at all. He definitely tried to play the role effectively, he just wasn’t that good. Singleton’s defensive skills weren’t that great aside from steals because he loved to reach so much. Oftentimes he got himself into foul trouble for that exact reason, and was forced to come out of games early and deplete further an already barren small forward rotation.
I have a hard time believing that a guy who is already old for a rookie at 22 years young, is going to improve by leaps and bounds given another year. Singleton may prove to be an effective defender and a backup in the future, but as a starter Singleton hurts the Wizards more than any other play at any other position. Small forward play by Washington was atrocious, and there’s no real way around that fact. If the Wizards want to go another year with Singleton manning the helm and a rookie alongside of him at the shooting guard position, fine. Just don’t expect it to get any better. In fact, expect it to get worse.
Which brings us to why Harrison Barnes fill the Wizards biggest need and also makes them better in the short and likely long term. Barnes has two years of college under his belt, and while he didn’t quite live up to those lofty expectations going into college, he certainly hasn’t done anything to dispel the notion that he’s a very good talent. His 6’8 height and sturdy build, combined with freakish athleticism as evidenced by the combine, will likely serve him well in the future. He’s a versatile scoring threat who can get up and down the court exceptionally well with John Wall and Jordan Crawford, as well as catch open spot up looks from the perimeter. His game fits so perfectly with what the Wizards are capable of that, though third overall may be a little high for him to be drafted, the amount of sense he makes is almost too undeniable. Sure, he is streaky at times, but with a great point guard like Kendall Marshall (and John Wall), his potential is much more likely to be reached.
The Wizards need to address that perimeter threat, and while Beal has unlimited range, Barnes does as well and provides an upgrade over the incumbent player. Kick outs will look cleaner; plays can actually be ran without worrying about Singleton bumbling them up with a lack of ball handling ability and a competent jump shot. The Wizards will excel and pick and pop shooting and the floor is going to be opened up. Yes, this is best case scenario talk, but that’s what you’re supposed to do during the draft dreaming days leading up to the Wizards picking.
Barnes played in a system that is oriented toward guards and centers, yet he still managed to thrive. Having watched this guy throughout his college career, I’m going to predict that his game is without a doubt more suited for the NBA than it was in college. No, that doesn’t answer why he struggled in the tournament or failed to knock down shots at times, but I simply don’t think he is going to bust out in the NBA. He’s a confident, even keel player who has fought through adversity and shown maturity for his age. Beal is a great player, no doubt, but Barnes is simply a better fit for the Wizards right now if they’re looking to get better right away. For those reasons, I’m going to say we need to go with a 3 at the 3.
In this segment of A Case for Drafting, I look at North Carolina’s small forward Harrison Barnes aka The Black Falcon, and why he would be a good fit for the squad. Barnes came out of high school as the first ever AP All-American before he even played a minute on a college floor. Obviously, the standard of play was set exceedingly high for the young Tarheel during his first year. While he got off to a slow start, he finished his first year very strongly; most notably with a 40 point performance against Clemson in which Barnes showed off his silky smooth shooting ability and athleticism.
His second year at UNC, where he decided to forgo potentially being the #1 overall pick during the summer, was expected to be his coming out party. Barnes was supposed to dominate the court in a way no other UNC player has since you-know-who. Somehow, in spite of improving his game in just about every statistical scoring category, the Black Falcon’s draft stock somehow regressed. That’s what constant attention and a 24-hour news cycle will do. Nonetheless, Barnes is still considered an extremely talented prospect to take a look at.
Barnes strength as an NBA player comes in two forms: His shooting ability and his physique.
Barnes happens to sport one of the prettiest strokes you’re going to find on an basketball player. His form is picture perfect, his footwork is sound, and he can hit it from absolutely anywhere on the court. Last season, Barnes averaged 17.1 ppg on only 13.7 shots while shooting 44% overall and 35% from long range. Those numbers would be impressive for any college player, but they don’t explain how Barnes scores all his points. He actually has an array of moves to get him to the spots he likes on the court. With Marshall on the court (and this is key), Barnes could catch and shoot from anywhere on the floor. He could simply wait for the ball on the wing, and once he got it, your team was going to pay. Harrison is also exceptionally good pulling up off one or two dribbles, depending on what the situation calls for.
Barnes is a very smart person, but also a very court-savvy player. He knows where he needs to be on the court to be effective, and finishes at the rim utilizing his uncanny body control. It’s a rarity that you’re going to see Barnes on the floor after receiving contact, because he’s a very balanced player. Even when he’s grabbing rebounds, he uses positioning and his length to his advantage to ensure that other players have no shot of even getting a hand on the ball. It’s one of the most striking features of his game.
Perhaps the most impressive attribute Barnes has is that he passes the smell test. When you look at him, he is perhaps the embodiment of what a prototypical NBA small forward would look like. Barnes measured a perfect 6’8, 228 lbs at the combine, and it clearly shows. He’s a physical phenomenon who also has the wingspan to be a decent rebounder and defender (7’1, no wonder why they call him the Black Falcon). Not only do his height and weight fit the bill, but it’s also Barnes vertical. Only one person, Miles Plumlee, bested Barnes vertical of 39.5 inches. That’s MJ in Space Jam type of stuff there. But that’s not where it stops with Barnes, as he also managed to be .02 seconds slower than John Wall’s official three quarters court time. What does that mean? Transition points will be plentiful, as Barnes is going to be able to keep up with anyone on the court.
Having watched more than enough Barnes over the past two years, there are some major holes in his game that I’m not sure are fixable offenses. While Barnes is an NBA caliber scorer, the rest of his game is a bit like Facebook stock, wherein investors have to ask, “Soooo what is it, exactly, that you do?” Barnes has absolutely no physical limitations to his game, and yet he doesn’t rebound well. He is strong enough to absorb contact driving to the rim, but can’t get to the rim to initiate any contact. He is also more than long enough to be a shut-down defender, but is more traffic cone than ball stopper. It’s literally inexplicable how someone so physically gifted can’t manage to be everything we know/believe he can be.
Part of that, however, is due to overexposure. Barnes happened to play at UNC, where everyone who has a bit of a scoring touch coming out of high school is considered the heir apparent to Jordan. It’s an absurd standard and makes us forget about the good a player can do. Barnes has had hole after hole poked into his game, but the flaws have arguably been extrapolated a bit. He doesn’t have a very quick first step, but it’s not sloth-like by any means. Not having Kendall Marshall during the NCAA tournament put Barnes on notice for his inability to create shots. Without Marshall feeding him in all the right places, he struggled and didn’t manage to shoot over 40% in any of his final two tournament games. The case could be made, however, that any player would have difficulties adjusting to life without Marshall around, who happens to be one of the best pure passers to come out of college in a long, long time.
Barnes was asked to do a bit too much, and the fact that he may never be a first option scorer as a pro was put on blast. That’s his major flaw. Maybe as a second option, but not the first.
Barnes upside as a pro player is probably Luol Deng. He’s another freaky athlete who doesn’t have that explosive first step necessary to create his own shot and become a superstar. Without that, his play is going to be limited by the abilities of his point guard. With a fantastic point guard like Wall, Barnes could thrive and become a very potent scorer. He’s not going to be a number one option ever, but he could certainly be a complementary piece on a playoff team. His shooting ability allows him to stretch the court and open up space, and at worst, it will keep him in the league for a long time coming.
Harrison Barnes has a high basement, so to speak. I think, at worst, he is going to be like Marvin Williams of the Atlanta Hawks (also a fellow UNC guy). A guy who looks the part of the small forward, but simply isn’t assertive enough to be considered a constant threat on the court. Williams has supreme talent, but he’s never going to win any effort awards. His tendency to shy away from contact severely limits his game and is the main reason he is relegated to the bench. Barnes is going to be better than Williams, I’m almost certain of that. But if we’re talking worst case scenario, he’s a better shooting Marvin and that leaves a lot to be desired.
Why He’s a Good Fit in the District
Barnes would exceed his upside playing alongside the Great Wall of Chinatown, and the reasons why are simple. Wall would find Barnes anywhere on the court, and their games complement one another incredibly well. Barnes doesn’t need the ball to be effective; in fact, he’s probably more effective without the ball. Wall would finally have that catch and shoot player to kick the ball out to. All those missed three’s by Jordan Crawford would go in with Barnes. His abilities would open the floor up for everyone, including slightly undersized centers like Seraphin and Nene. Furthermore, transition points would come easy with two north-south speed demons like Barnes and Wall. If anything, the Wizards would be the fastest team in the NBA. Barnes might actually be the best fit for Washington out of any prospects available, which is a shame because by all accounts they’re not considering him.
By: Willis, Colenda, and Bohlin
With all the talk yesterday (within the Wizards realm) of the possibility of moving Rashard Lewis, I overheard a very, very interesting proposition over the Twittersphere mentioned in passing by someone I cannot even recall. The question was this: if the Wizards fall to the #5 pick in the draft, would Ernie entertain the idea of trading Rashard and that pick for Memphis Grizzlies forward Rudy Gay? As soon as I read it, I almost wanted to direct message the guy who wrote it telling him to keep those thoughts away from Ernie Grunfeld, please. If Ernie caught wind of a deal like this, he’d immediately pull the trigger on it without looking back. But maybe I’m the one in the wrong here; perhaps this Ernie-like trade should go down. I mean, Rudy Gay is a borderline All-Star who also happens to be a native of the area, right? It couldn’t hurt to entertain the idea. Well, luckily, my viewpoint isn’t the only one available, which brings us to this edition of Pick’N'Pop:
1.) If the Wizards drop to the #5 pick in the draft, should they try and trade Rashard + the pick for Rudy Gay?
Colenda: In short, absolutely. With the trade for Nene, the Wizards have shown that they’re ready to exit the rebuilding stage and make the necessary moves to become relevant again in the East. We’re certainly not in a win-now mode like, say, the Celtics, but the franchise needs to see improvement (especially with the looming free agency of a certain former number 1 pick). This is why a Gay deal makes sense. Instead of riding out a final year of Lewis’ contract, opening up some cap space in 2014, and developing a talented but raw rookie, the Wizards would be trading for a player that can help them win right away. He would be able to come in and fill the gaping need for a go-to-scorer, and help provide some additional veteran experience with a winning mentality. His coming from a successful franchise cannot be understated; the Wizards desperately need players who know what it takes to be winners in the NBA. A core group of Wall, Gay, Seraphin, Nene, and Vesely would be intriguing to build around, and it would most certainly not be a team that finishes near dead last in the league. If we could find a Bruce Bowen-type shooting guard (a defensive specialist that’s deadly from 3), then that group has the potential for true success.
Willis: This is where I have a hard time making a definitive statement on the subject. The Wizards have been notoriously bad about trading away their draft picks for talented players in an attempt to simply skip the rebuilding process (*cough* Ricky Rubio for Randy Foye and Mike Miller). The reality is, however, that great teams simply aren’t created that way. Look at the Big Three teams who have had any measure of success: San Antonio’s players were all home grown, Boston already had resident star Paul Pierce, Miami already had D-Wade before LBJ and Bosh, Oklahoma City drafted Durant, Westbrook, and Harden, and even Los Angeles drafted Kobe and Bynum before adding Pau. The reality is that great teams become great through the draft and then free agency. One can’t come before the other, lest the development of players is rushed.
Bohlin: In any trade it takes two to tango, but were the Curse of Les Boulez to cause this scenario to play out the Wizards should absolutely make the phone call to Chris Wallace & Co. Falling to the fifth pick, the worst spot the Wizards could land in the lottery, would more than likely leave us on the outside looking in for the top guard/small forward prospects who have declared. In this situation it really would come down to who you like more, North Carolina’s Harrison Barnes or attempting to make a move to bring Rudy back home to the DMV. Memphis is going into the offseason over the cap and after a disappointing first round exit by the hands of those guys from Lob City they may be looking to dump salary and Rudy just inked a big deal with the Grizzlies last summer.
2.) What do you think of Rudy Gay as a player? (strength’s)
Colenda: Gay has always been an extremely gifted athlete (check out some H.S. highlights from his time at Spalding in Maryland, he may have been a late star on the AAU scene but the kid could always fly). Over the last few years he has developed himself into being a very capable scorer on the NBA level. Defensively, you could expect a player with his combination of size, length and athleticism to be an elite defender, but he is nothing more than serviceable on that end of the floor. He has been bit by the injury bug the last few seasons, and it’s debatable whether or not he fits the dreaded “injury-prone” label. When healthy, his offensive versatility allows for him to fit well in either a half-court or up-tempo offense. Gay can function off the ball, attack off the dribble, or knock down 3’s in a catch and shoot. Overall, Gay is an above-average NBA player and maybe even a border-line All-Star, but could never be mistaken as a franchise-guy on a championship contender.
Willis: I think Rudy Gay is one of the best small forwards in the game, and appears to have turned a corner in terms of his dedication to team play. Having watched a lot of Rudy Gay throughout his career, his forte is the pull up jumper from midrange off the dribble and using the triple threat in the corners to get ahead of the defender before, again, pulling up. He’s one of the better athletes at his position, easily ranking in the top 5 and capable of keeping up with anyone on the defensive end. He isn’t the best defender, but he has shown far more commitment this year than any previous times. The problem I have with him, is that in spite of what I see on the court (more hustle, defensive commitment, smarter basketball), he really hasn’t changed from when he came into the league. He’s the same steak, just marinated. I’m not sure he’s ever going to take the step to become an All-Star caliber small forward like people think he might. Rudy Gay is, simply put, very close to Caron Butler but not quite as good. And if the Wizards fell to 5, I’d rather just try our hand at the draft with someone like Harrison Barnes or Bradley Beal.
Bohlin: In spite of my bias towards guys who played in the D.C. Metro area, Rudy Gay is one hell of a basketball player and represents what this team is lacking. Until he got to the NBA, Rudy has more or less been “The Guy” on any team he was a part of. He can jump out of the gym, as my colleague Jason Colenda knows, and he possesses as close to a complete offensive arsenal as anyone in the league. Gay can take his man to the basket off the dribble, put the ball on the floor to create space for a jump shot and stretch the floor by stepping out behind the arc to knock down three-pointers. There is currently not a soul on the Wizards roster who can claim to be able to do the same thing consistently.
3.) Would Rudy Gay mesh well with John Wall?
Colenda: If fit were the biggest concern with the deal, attempting such a trade would be a no-brainer. Gay would be a perfect fit to play alongside John Wall and the youthful Wiz. He would fill a HUGE position of need for the Wizards (SF/Elite Wing Athlete/Go-To Scorer), and be able to flourish alongside John Wall in the open floor. Thought Jan looked competent running the break with Jimmy at times this year? Gay would without a doubt team up with Wall for quite a few Sports Center highlights. His ability to function as a go-to-scorer would allow Wall to fit into his much more comfortable role as a creator and initiator of offense and the fast break. John would make Rudy’s life much easier offensively by getting him easy shots, and Gay would make Wall’s life much easier since he’s a competent pro to play alongside (Wall hasn’t played with many of those in his first two years). The pairing would really complement itself well and with Nene and Seraphin we could have the makings of a legitimate inside, outside threat.
Willis: Rudy is one of those guys who could fit into any offense with about 15-16 shots to spare. His isolation prowess doesn’t require a point guard to function correctly; rather, it requires minimal floor spacing. Fortunately for the Wizards, they have about 40 possessions they wouldn’t mind giving to Rudy Gay. While Gay is capable of running an up tempo style (I would presume, given his athleticism), he is more used to half court sets and a slower speed offense in Memphis. And heck, that would probably be a boon for Wall, given that in an up tempo offense his turnover rates skyrocket. Not even mentioning the fact that Rudy has playoff experience, a Gold Medal in the FIBA World Championships, and a winning mentality. His presence with Wall wouldn’t be bad at all, and the rest of the team would work out fine with him on board, as he fits seamlessly into most offenses.
Bohlin: He’d be the perfect match to play alongside Wall. Not only would Gay get out in transition as we all know that ability is what separates Wall from the rest of the point guards in the league. Gay would also finally give us the go-to scorer on the wing that we have desperately needed. Outside of his transition game or isolation plays Wall has yet to prove he can be relied upon to shoulder the offensive load with his jump shot. While this is something that I expect to improve over the summer and coming seasons it still is something that is outside of Wall’s comfort zone at this point in time. The addition of Gay to the lineup would take some of that burden off of Wall to be the focal point of the offense and in turn allow him to be the distributor in an up tempo setting which I believe is where he can truly thrive.
4.) What are the chances Memphis would actually do this trade?
Colenda: I’m not convinced the Grizzlies would turn their nose up at this deal. They would have the opportunity to dump a large salary (he signed a five-year $81.6 million extension in the summer of 2010), and replace him with an expiring contract and a young, cheap, and talented player. The draft is one of the deepest in recent memory, and with the 5th pick many talented players will still be on board. Obviously this is the big incentive for the trade. Additionally, many have argued that Memphis plays better without Gay in the lineup, citing their run to the Western Conference finals last year in his absence when leaning heavily on the inside combo of Z-Bo and Marc Gasol. If we could get GM Chris Wallace to start drinking that Kool-Aid, than we could get him to pull the trigger. He’s certainly done stranger things (see the trade for Gasol, Pau).
Willis: GM Chris Wallace is an idiot who pissed off the entire league by trading Pau Gasol to the Lakers, and Ernie Grunfeld is one of the best swindlers in the NBA. If ever there were a combination of GM’s to make something like this happen, it would be these two. The draft is deep, and Harrison Barnes or Bradley Beal still might be available at the #5 pick. Memphis loves building through the draft and developing players, so this would be a coup in their eyes. With Z-Bo and Marc Gasol manning the helm, the Grizzlies made a strong push toward the Western Conference Finals. With Rudy in the mix and healthy? They were bounced in the first round by a weak Clippers team. The two aren’t necessarily causal, but their GM might believe otherwise. This could very well happen if the Wizards catch a bad break in the draft.
Bohlin: Currently, the Grizzlies have 9 players under contract for next season to the tune of $62,418,406, the projected cap is supposed to fall somewhere between 60-61 million dollars. The Grizzlies will be faced with some tough decisions this offseason as they will need to fill out a roster while potentially paying the luxury tax. Memphis isn’t exactly New York or Los Angeles so it isn’t a certainty that their owner will want to go far beyond that threshold, especially with the disappointing end to the season with this roster as is. Rudy Gay is owed roughly $53 million by Memphis through the 2014/2015 season. It is not crazy to think they would be interested in some salary cap relief while moving one of their larger, long term contracts out of town.
Could this trade actually happen under the current CBA? Of course it can! Why would we be writing this Pick and Pop otherwise people? To the Trade Machine! (DC Homecoming) As you can see, the Wizards could send Rashard Lewis and the hypothetical 5th overall pick (Couldn’t add picks yet so use your imagination) in the 2012 NBA Draft to Memphis for a package of Rudy Gay, Dante Cunningham and Josh Selby and it would work under the salary cap. This move would alleviate the Grizzlies of their long term salary cap constraints allowing them to continue to build around Zach Randolph and Marc Gasol and the Wizards would get their go-to-guy on the wing that they haven’t had since the days of Caron Butler. I’m not saying it would definitely happen but I think this would be one of those rare deals where both teams would ultimately benefit.
So this begs the question Wizards fans, Barnes or Gay…Who ya got?