Ever since the Warriors signed Andre Iguodala, people have been wondering what will happen to Harrison Barnes. Barnes, who is going into his second season, will most likely have to come off the bench every night.
There is a chance that Klay Thompson will be the one relegated to the second team, but his shooting ability and defense will probably help him stay on the floor.
Barnes had a decent rookie season. He wasn’t asked to do too much and often deferred to the other starters on offense. This resulted in him scoring 9.2 points and pulling down 4.1 rebounds per game.
However, once David Lee went down with an injury in the playoffs, Barnes became more established on offense. He averaged 16.1 points and 6.4 rebounds per game in the playoffs.
Barnes’ performances against the Denver Nuggets and San Antonio Spurs reminded people of how much potential he has. Before breaking out in the postseason, most people would have been content to have him sit and learn behind Iguodala.
Now, the wing is seen as crowded with talent and that makes things awkward. Iguodala certainly can’t sit; he is one of the best wings in the NBA. Thompson’s shooting is needed to keep defenses from swarming Stephen Curry. Benching Barnes could hinder his development.
Barnes has made it known that he doesn’t mind coming off the bench, but that doesn’t mean it isn’t something to be concerned about. Mark Jackson and the rest of the coaching staff are going to need to find a way to maximize the talent of these three players.
It makes sense to be concerned, but there are plenty of reasons to be optimistic about this situation. The first is obvious: complaining about having too much talent is a luxury the Warriors haven’t had for a long time.
The second starts with the versatility of Andre Iguodala. He can play both small forward and shooting guard, so he can switch when Thompson and Barnes substitute for each other. Matchups can also play a part; Barnes might start some nights if the other team’s lineup calls for it.
Some worry that defenses will focus too much on Curry if Klay is sitting out, but the versatility of the wings should be able to stop that. Iguodala is one of the best finishers in the league and Barnes showed some promising slashing ability during his rookie season.
If Klay is on the bench, Curry will still get his shots. Iguodala is a great passer and Barnes has shown he can knock down open three-pointers.
The best argument for why this trio will not be awkward is minutes. Whoever is coming off the bench will still see plenty of minutes. Jarrett Jack, who was the Warriors’ sixth man last season, played about 30 minutes per game – five more minutes than Barnes, who was a starter last season.
Barnes will still get plenty of minutes and will have a new mentor in Iguodala. This can only help his development.
A rotation of Barnes, Thompson, and Iguodala should keep them from tiring out too quickly. Since all three capable of starting, their substitutions will occur without a drop off in production.
This trio might look awkward to some on the surface, but they will be vital to the success of the Warriors. Acquiring Iguodala was the right move; his presence should allow the Warriors to be championship contenders.