May 10, 2013; Oakland, CA, USA; Golden State Warriors small forward Harrison Barnes (40) celebrates after a basket against the San Antonio Spurs during the first quarter of game three of the second round of the 2013 NBA Playoffs at Oracle Arena. Mandatory Credit: Kelley L Cox-USA TODAY Sports

Golden State Warriors: Why 2013-14 is Harrison Barnes' Breakout Year

After just one game of the 2013 NFL season Denver Broncos tight end Julius Thomas looks poised to be the Broncos breakout star in 2014. Thomas played just one year of college football at a second tier program, Portland State. Thursday night, Thomas caught five passes for 110 yards and two touchdowns. Prior to Thursday night he had only one catch for five yards in his career.

Thomas was a talented basketball player in college at Portland State, racking up 62 blocked shots and 520 rebounds in four seasons. He set school records for career games played (121) and career wins (78) while leading the Vikings to two straight NCAA Tournament appearances.

Harrison Barnes did not go to Portland State, he did not enroll as a nameless face nationally, he did overachieve at University of North Carolina. Barnes, unlike Thomas did not live up to expectations while in college, struggling to meet the massive expectations he came to NC with.

Barnes though, like Thomas, will be the breakout star for the Golden State Warriors in the upcoming season. Barnes had a solid regular season. He was nothing spectacular, averaging only 9.2 points and 4.1 rebounds per game in 25 minutes of action. Barnes shot 44 percent from the filed and 36 percent from three and played in all but one game last season.

But come postseason, when David Lee was spending more time in the doctor’s office then on the court, Barnes began his rise to stardom.

In 12 games of play, Barnes averaged 16 points and 6.4 rebounds per game. He shot a better percentage from the field and three, not to mention he averaged 13 more minutes per game. Barnes had more 20-point games in the postseason then he did all regular season.

After Barnes’ first postseason his arrow is point up. projects Barnes’ per 36 to be 13.6 points, 6.0 rebounds, 1.9 assists, with increased shooting percentages from the field and from three.

With the arrival of Andre Iguodala, one would think Barnes production would decrease, but look for Barnes to be the focal point of the second unit and emerge as one of the best 6th men in the league. Expect Barnes to be mentioned in the group of J.R. Smith, Jamal Crawford, and Manu Ginobili this time next season.

Tags: 2013-14 Preview Golden State Warriors Harrison Barnes

  • Alec Safreno

    It won’t be enough to just say that because Barnes was so successful last post season he’s going to breakout this season. So much of Barnes’s success this year relies on Mark Jackson and how he uses his rotations and personnel.

    In the teams current iteration, any sort of traditional rotation would render this team to be a lower seed in a crowded western conference. Normal rotations, you use a bench player to replace what a starter does. Much like Landry and Jack last year, they provided the same skill set as Lee and Curry, respectively, but to a lesser degree. However, this year, the closest thing the Warriors have to a bench play being a lesser duplicate of a starter is Speights to Lee. Speights is taller and bigger, but has a good midrange and is a decent rebounder. Aside from him, everyone else doesn’t have anyone that can step in for a starter.

    Instead, the bench should be more viewed as a separate team entirely, complete with an entirely different way to run the offense. When the starters are in, its Steph’s show. There doesn’t exist a player in this world that can play like Steph, an efficient volume shooter. Everything on offense should be either be setup by him or for him to get him the best look at 3′s or using him as a threat to allow for an easy basket from another player. There’s more to this rotational stuff, but I digress, back to Barnes.

    When Barnes first steps in, he should slide in immediately as the stretch 4. Replacing Bogut’s spot, Barnes should be regulated to be a 3 and D player. Stretches the floor and locks down, as best he can, opposing power forwards. If he can excel at this “super role player” role, he’s already as good as Kawhi Leonard. When Curry sits, the offense needs to shift from one run by the backcourt, to one run through the front. This is where the post game Barnes has supposed to have been working on comes into play. He will split time in the post with David Lee. Faster and more athletic than bigger power forwards, he should be able score like ‘Melo. I’m not saying he’s Melo in anyway. But the way Melo attacks bigger power forwards, Harrison should try and score the same way.

    If Mark Jackson can use his personnel in a non conventional way, Barnes should be able to duplicate the success he had in the post season last year. But saying that his post season success alone predicates his breakout year is wrong.

    • Ben Pickman

      All the points you make are valid. I agree with you that Barnes’ poststeason alone is not enough. But his postseason was a sign of what is to come for Barnes.

      I agree with your points about Barnes sliding into the stretch four slot for Bogut. If Barnes can duplicate his success at the 4 he had at the postseason in the regular season then he should have a big year.

      Barnes will also be the man in the second unit which is another reason why his numbers should improve as well.

      And yes the second unit is drastically different this year, but systematically Jackson will try to instill the same principles. I expect them to be less productive and do certain things differently but I do not expect them to look like a completely new group.

      And Steph is very unique and of course a star. He better be an all-star this year

      • Alec Safreno

        I disagree that Barnes should be the man of the second unit. It should be David Lee. Odd, I know, because David Lee’s a starter, not a bench player. But, due to the lack of shooting depth as well as talent depth, there should be a starter on the court at all times, preferable two.

        When Steph, Bogut, and Igoudala sit, the offense needs shift from a backcourt heavy set, to an inside out offense. Screens should be used to establish post position for Lee and Barnes, not to free up shooters. The bench unit should be less pick and roll reliant and more post. Lee can murder opposing centers on offense. He’s too crafty and fast for most centers to really bother him. Plus he plays better as a center. I’ve been all for trading Lee this offseason, but once I realized that he’s actually better at the center, it opens up his role drastically.

        Defensively, ICE and no middle reign supreme as universal philosophies, but trying to run the same kind of offense with the bench players won’t produce the same kind of results it did last year. Douglas isn’t as good as a passer as Jack and Speights isn’t David Lee with that pick and pop that the Warriors fall back on. Different personnel call for a different offensive looks. An inside-out game for the bench, and odd-angled screens for the starters.

        Also, an aside about Barnes. As good as he is, he doesn’t create well for others. He’s unselfish and can make the extra pass, but as far as a threading the needle or a draw and kick, he doesn’t do exceptionally well. He also doesn’t create his own shot particularly well. In the WCSF, he relied on backing down Tony Parker to score on ball, something he didn’t do that well. That may have something to do with his subaverage-average handles, and I do believe that he’s improved that this year. But as far as being the “man” on the second unit, his game isn’t quite there to lead that whole unit by himself.