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. Basketball-referance.com 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.