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NBA Draft Prospect Profile: Harrison Barnes

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Harrison Barnes
– SF
Projected: Lottery – Potential Top 5 Pick
2011-12 Stats: 17.1 pts, 5.2 reb, 1.1 ast, 1.1 stl, 0.3 blk, 44.0% FG, 72.3% FT, 35.8% 3-PT, 1.9 TO, 29.2 min
2010-11 Stats: 15.7 pts, 5.8 reb, 1.4 ast, 0.7 stl, 0.4 blk, 42.3% FG, 75.0% FT, 34.4% 3-PT, 1.9 TO, 29.4 min

2012 NBA Draft Featured Prospect Strengths Weaknesses
Player Card: Harrison Barnes

Harrison BarnesCollege

North Carolina
HT 6-8
WT 223 lbs.
  • NBA Ready Jump Shot
  • Solid Frame
  • High Offensive Skill-Set
  • Underrated Athlete
  • Poised Competitor
  • Clutch Performer
  • Not a natural playmaker
  • Lapses of Inactivity
  • Needs to find other ways to score
  • Too perimeter oriented
  • Doesn’t attack basket enough


Harrison Barnes chose to return for his sophomore season at UNC although the 6-foot-8 inch highly-skilled small forward, arguably, could have been a top 3 pick in the 2011 NBA Draft.

Judging by his strong play towards the end of the 2010-11 season there can be no denying his immense talent level.  His jump shot is NBA-ready with a high release point and an easy motion indicative of a player who puts in the time necessary to hone such an important skill in the pro game.

He is not bulky or lean necessarily, but definitely has the strong build needed to battle some of the more physically mature small forwards in the NBA today.  He will indeed fill out even more in the coming years.

Speaking of build and strength, in the transition game Barnes is extremely determined to make a play and will finish most times when he has the ball in his hands.  His athleticism is not spectacular, but definitely surprising in terms of body control and finishing ability over defenders – he will dunk on you.  However, he does not use that natural athleticism nearly enough so many skeptics may view him as just average in this department.

His primary scoring opportunities come via the spot up shot which constitutes for 28.3% of his offense.  This is due to his advanced mid-range game.  In North Carolina’s offense Barnes was the benefactor many times of excellent penetration and kick outs as well as post passes out of double teams.

That ability to hit wide-open spot up shots from the perimeter is truly a difference maker in the pro game.  Especially from your wings.  Since the League is predominantly pick-and-roll predicated, it is paramount that your wings be able to consistently knock down the open long, or mid-range, jumper if the first or second options have been taken.

Being that Barnes is an above-average shooter from the wings and corners his insertion into a pro lineup should instantly make a prospective team much more dangerous as he opens up the middle via the pick-and-roll set as NBA defenses will have to stay attached to him at all times.

As touched on earlier Barnes shows a nice ability to finish plays in the transition game with contact.  He is quite impressive once he makes up his mind to score on the break.  In fact 16.8% of his scoring opportunities came via transition during the 2010-11 season.

In terms of positives his third most significant plus on an NBA roster moving forward is his ability to get his own shot.

The jumper, already, in this early stage of his career is wetter than most pros.  But what may set him apart is, not only his high-release point and length at 6-8, but his footwork.

One dribble, two dribbles, jab step, step back, he seems to understand how to get that jumper off against pretty much anyone.  Fundamentally sound from the triple threat position watch out.  He can and will go at defenders right or left.

Being that Barnes is able to shoot over most guys and shows great consistent form on his shot, many times that is all he does.  If he can’t get open or hasn’t hit early he, at times, can get lost in the offense.  At the next level he will have to do a much better job at moving without the ball.  Primarily cutting to the basket as opposed to away from it when he is looking to get open for a perimeter shot.

With his athleticism, large hands and leaping ability there is no reason he should not be creating easier opportunities at the rim by cutting – solid offensive rebounder however.

Another noticeable issue with Barnes is his lack of natural playmaking skills.  The stone-faced offensive gem is looking to get his and not necessarily in a selfish way, but he just doesn’t have the mentality to get in the lane and kick out to 3-pt shooters or go in the post and find cutters right now.

However, this skill set should increase as he becomes more of a focal point of an offense and is put into various situations.  It’s easy to forget that the young man just finished up his first season of collegiate ball at UNC.

That same thing could be said for his inability to attack the rim in the halfcourt.  Ironically Barnes is in attack mode in transition, however in the halfcourt he settles for long jumpers too often.  What’s interesting is that when he decides to attack it is obvious that he is very capable perhaps just not yet confident in that part of his game.

In summary Harrison Barnes has many characteristics indicative of a starting small forward in the League.  He has the size and bulk at 6-8, 223-pounds, he is not afraid of contact or getting too physical on the glass or in the paint, he exhibits a tremendous amount or poise when suffering through adversity and he has already made quite a name for himself in the clutch department putting North Carolina on his back numerous times during the 2010-11 season.

In the pro game you may see more of Barnes athleticism, talent and high skill level as he won’t have to necessarily fit in with the college game plan based on zone defenses.  Being that the NBA is the ultimate in showing a player’s one-on-one skills Barnes has the opportunity to flourish while at the same time show that he is fundamentally sound enough to fit in to a system.

Either way it’s not a stretch to claim that the future is bright for this kid.  Hard-working, talented, determined, patient…that’s sounds like a blueprint for success.  We’ll be watching.


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