Apr 26, 2013; Oakland, CA, USA; Golden State Warriors forward Harrison Barnes (40) reacts after making a three point basket against the Denver Nuggets in the third quarter during game three of the first round of the 2013 NBA playoffs at Oracle Arena. The Warriors defeated the Nuggets 110-108. Mandatory Credit: Cary Edmondson-USA TODAY Sports

Golden State Warriors: Analyzing Harrison Barnes' Importance

After watching several dominant performances from Harrison Barnes this postseason, it’s hard to believe he is only a rookie. After David Lee tore his right hip flexor in Game 1, coach Mark Jackson decided to employ a smaller lineup, starting Barnes at the four to match up against Kenneth Faried. There were doubts to whether or not Barnes could survive a low-post battle with Faried.

Well, the University of North Carolina product more than proved the doubters wrong, averaging 14.8 points and 5.5 boards a game against Denver. Since the series with the Nuggets, Barnes improved his rebounding, increasing his average to 7.7 for this current series against the San Antonio Spurs, although admittedly this is a smaller sample size.

Barnes has displayed that he contributes both offensively and defensively; during the playoffs, when he is on the court, the Warriors’ offensive rating or ORtg (a statistic that measures an estimate of points scored per 100 possessions). is on average 3.5 points higher than when he is off, and when he is on the court the opponent’s offensive rating is on average 6.7 points lower than when he is off.

We can also use lineup analysis to just see how much of an impact he has when he is playing versus when he isn’t  The Warriors three most effective lineups, as measured by plus-minus ( a statistic that measures a player’s, or in this case five players’, impact on the difference between their team’s total scoring versus their opponents) all include Barnes. If we take him out of those lineups, we see an average decrease of 29 points.

If we look at the most effective lineup, Barnes, Andrew Bogut, Stephen Curry, Klay Thompson and Carl Landry, who have a plus-minus rating of plus-17, and then put in Jarret Jack and take out  Barnes, we see a decrease of 35 and the plus-mins rating drops to a minus-18. The  obvious question is, how do we know the difference is because of Barnes being off the court, but Jack being on the court? Well, when we put in another player, this time Draymond Green instead of Harrison Barnes, the plus-minus still drops, though not nearly as much, by plus-13 to a rating of plus-4.

Whether its admiring his ability to finish above the rim or admiring his stat sheet, one cannot ignore the ability, and potential, of Harrison Barnes. He has acclimated to the NBA exceptionally well and continues to prove himself in his first postseason. Here’s hoping the flight of the Black Falcon will be a long and prosperous one.

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