Nov 27, 2013; Dallas, TX, USA; Golden State Warriors small forward Harrison Barnes (40) guards Dallas Mavericks power forward Dirk Nowitzki (41) during the game at the American Airlines Center. The Mavericks defeated the Warriors 103-99. Mandatory Credit: Jerome Miron-USA TODAY Sports

The Key to the Warriors' Defense is Harrison Barnes’ Offense

Before you close down this article, hear me out: Stephen Curry cannot defend any competent offensively-gifted point guard.

Klay Thompson is a little bit better. But the Golden State Warriors are not utilizing one of their potentially most devastating lineups enough. A lineup that consists of Andrew Bogut, David Lee, Andre Iguodala, Stephen Curry and Harrison Barnes.

They’ve appeared in only 19 games this season, which makes them the fourth most commonly used lineup for the Warriors, but when they’re in the game, they reek havoc on the defensive end.

When on the floor together they hold opponents to only 25 percent shooting from three and per 100 possessions would gather the most steals of any significantly used lineup. If coach Mark Jackson plays the group above, the Warriors have the ability to switch almost every screen without having to worry about mismatches as four of the five guys out on the floor can guard big men. Barnes has the unique ability to guard both power forwards and point guards, but his inconsistent offensive play is a reason, the Warriors don’t see his true ability defensively.

Saturday night would have been the perfect night for the Warriors to play a lineup with Barnes playing his best offensive game in weeks, but without David Lee and Andrew Bogut in the lineup, the Warriors were forced to play the slow-footed Jermaine O’Neal at the center position for too much of the game.

One reason why the Warriors have to play Thompson so much is because Barnes struggles on the offensive end. If Barnes were to play more consistently on the offensive end of the floor, then Jackson could play Barnes more on the floor without the fear of the offense going down the drain. Of any significantly-used Warriors’ lineup, this lineup accumulates the fewest number of assists per 100 possessions, but actually shoots the second-best percentage.

Harrison Barnes needs to play better on the offensive end, and if he does, the defense will only improve. If that happens, then they won’t have to worry about scoring 109 points in a game and still losing, like they did Sunday night against the Suns.

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