With the Golden State Warriors hitting their full stride, everything seems to be falling perfectly together. Their recent hot streak has them placed sixth and fighting for the fifth and fourth spots in the Western Conference. Every essential piece to their starting five has returned from injury and the offense/defense is operating like a well oiled machine. Everything is perfect …or is it really?
Harrison Barnes’ production has been an enigma to the Warriors’ bench all season. Some nights, he plays out of the gym, but other nights, he’s just an afterthought of, “Oh yeah, Barnes was out there, wasn’t he?”
Barnes is logging 30.6 minutes off the bench this season, so he’s seeing plenty playing time while averaging 11 points per game. However, in the last five games, he’s only averaging seven points and playing 24.6 minutes.
Even though the Warriors are hot right now, they will need Barnes to do a better job of leading the second unit when it comes down to playing the elite teams in the Western Conference. The Warriors will need to depend on Barnes to be an offensive and defensive booster that has been absent since Jarrett Jack’s departure.
I think Barnes can be a consistent player and be the guy the Warriors need to keep pace with the elite teams. Barnes is very, very young and still trying to find his footing in the league. We’ve seen bursts of his potential in last year’s playoff run and some this year in games where the Warriors have needed him badly. Barnes just needs to work on being consistent with his shot selection and not play outside of himself too much.
It appears at times that Barnes forces too many shots because he feels like an outcasted puppy of the up-and-coming youngster nucleus that is made up of Stephen Curry and Klay Thompson for the Warriors. He could be feeling a sense of being “left out of the fun,” so to speak, with his role coming off the bench and is trying to prove a point that he should be invited to the party by jacking up shots anytime he touches the ball.
If this is the case, Barnes inconsistency issues may root from this and could lead to further play that will give the whole Bay Area headaches in the playoffs. It will be interesting to see what happens as the season progresses and if Barnes can become the lighting in a bottle off the bench that the Warriors will need to capture a title this season.