Golden State Warriors: Is Harrison Barnes the Next Big Thing?


May 12, 2013; Oakland, CA, USA; Golden State Warriors head coach Mark Jackson (left) instructs small forward Harrison Barnes (40) against the San Antonio Spurs during the third quarter in game four of the second round of the 2013 NBA Playoffs at Oracle Arena. The Warriors defeated the Spurs 97-87 in overtime. Mandatory Credit: Kyle Terada-USA TODAY Sports

Have no fear Bay Area, Harrison Barnes is here.

The seventh overall pick in the 2012 NBA Draft and a product of North Carolina’s elite basketball program, Barnes has dazzled with the Golden State Warriors on their current magical postseason run.

His first big postseason performance came in just his second playoff game, which was at the Pepsi Center in Denver. The Nuggets had not lost in months at home, but nonetheless, Barnes and the Warriors came into the arena and trampled on their opponents. The outstanding rookie posted an impressive stat line of 24 points, six rebounds and two assists, while shooting 64 percent from the field.

Flash forward to the present, and the Warriors are down 3-2 to the San Antonio Spurs in a wild Western Conference Semifinals matchup. The deeper a team goes in the playoffs, the more pressure they seem to succumb to. However, with the Warriors– and especially Barnes — that is simply not the case.

In a momentum-shifting Game 4 in front of an explosive home crowd, the Warriors were able to edge out the Spurs in a tight overtime thriller. Aside from Stephen Curry’s sprained ankle, the key headline of the game was how Barnes, the vivacious rookie, had yet again stepped up for his team and helped lead them to a crucial victory.

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

Tallying 26 points and 10 rebounds while not missing a free throw all night, Barnes shined in a game full of chaos.

Perhaps the most intriguing aspect of Barnes’ special performance was the number of shots he took. The young gun from Iowa attempted 26 shots from the field and only made nine of them, but depending on how you look at it, that could very well be a positive thing.

Sure, anybody can examine a stat line and criticize a rookie for needing 26 shots to score 26 points, but in order to fully comprehend his performance, one must flip the script as well.

Barnes’ Kobe-esque 26 shot attempts proves that he is finally breaking out of his shell and getting more comfortable with taking on a bigger role for the hungry and energetic Warriors squad.

The first-year player scored more points than any of his teammates during their electric Game 4 victory, and if Golden State wants to make a legitimate run at the NBA Championship, they are going to need more star production from Barnes.

They got star production again in Game 5. Barnes scored 25 points on 10-of-18 shooting. He also collected six rebounds in Golden State’s loss.

Barnes has really come together as a solid NBA player. And at this point, the sky is the limit for him. His potential soars through the roof and with repeated development of his already-polished fundamentals. Keep an eye out for him to realize his potential and dominate the league in the near future.