After two poor summer league performances in a row, Harrison Barnes needed a big game to quiet his doubters. And there were plenty of doubters after Barnes posted back-to-back 5-for 17 shooting performances against the Denver Nuggets and Miami Heat.
In those contests, Barnes constantly got himself into trouble, dribbling into traffic and taking a number of contested shots. In watching those two contests, Barnes was actually lucky to have shot as well as he did. He didn’t make things easy on himself.
But against Chicago on Friday, Barnes smoothed out some of the rough edges in his game and assumed the leadership role vacated by Klay Thompson.
Barnes went 7-for-16 from the field and pulled down nine rebounds in 36 minutes. He was the team’s first and best option on offense. But while the stat line is an improvement over his previous efforts, the more impressive aspect of Barnes’ game was how he scored. Instead of relying on his pet one-dribble pull-up jumper at the elbow (a shot that he can’t seem to get off without at least two defenders in his face), Barnes took it to the hole. He penetrated aggressively, drawing contact nearer to the basket—where he was rewarded with six free throws.
Barnes also showed the ability to go left, which he hadn’t displayed much this summer. He unveiled a handful of deft spin moves and used some improved footwork to get inside. He still hasn’t shown he can consistently dribble through traffic—his ball handling has never been a strong suit—but his new focus on attacking defenses served him well.
He can still clearly stroke it from behind the arc. His 1-for-3 effort from three-point land is a little deceptive because his two misses rattled in and out. All of his long-distance shots looked smooth and confident, as usual.
Barnes and the Warriors get one more chance to show fans what they can do today against the New Orleans Hornets. If Barnes builds on his aggressive style, it’ll bode well for his future as a scorer and real contributor in Golden State.