20Q | Articles

30Q: Can Harrison Barnes bounce back?

Barnes didn't have a bad year last year, but can he be even better this season?

On its surface, this may seem like an odd question to ask. After all, Harrison Barnes didn't have a bad year last year. Barnes finished last season averaging 16.4 points per game, an improvement over 16.1 the year before when we lauded Barnes for having one of the best seasons of his career. Barnes also upped his 3 point percentage from 39.1% to 39.4%. So why am asking if Barnes can bounce back? Because those numbers belie the way Barnes really looked last season.

We can see it in other numbers, like the way Barnes went from 6.6 rebounds per game to 5.6, and his assists went from 3.5 per game to 2.4. But more than anything, it just seemed like Barnes wasn't having the same impact. He looked, to be perfectly blunt, a bit checked out.

Now if Barnes was checked out, I wouldn't blame him at all. Playing out the string on yet another lost season for the Kings, with no hope in sight, it's hard to stay motivated in that type of situation. We can debate whether players should remain motivated, or point to players who bring it every night no matter what, but you could also argue that Barnes did just that. He looked checked out, but still was productive for the Kings. He never complained, and his performance never really slumped.

But it sure feels like he's capable of more.

The hope is that a full season alongside Domantas Sabonis can revitalize Barnes, and optimize his strengths. Barnes has never been a dominant rebounder, Sabonis is. And Sabonis' passing should reward cutters and corner spot-up shooters, two areas where Barnes excels.

The big question mark will still be the defense, as it always is with the Kings. Barnes will likely see more time at small forward than power forward this season. Barnes was never a lock-down defender against fours, but the added speed of guarding more traditional wings will pose a new challenge for Barnes. At 30 years old Barnes certainly isn't past his prime, but he's also not at an age where he's gaining foot speed. How Barnes handles guarding guys more on the wings will be critical. Barnes has never been an elite defender, but he's also been a solid team defender. Unfortunately, the Kings have often relied on him as one of the team's best defenders, and the current roster doesn't boast many defenders better than Barnes, outside of Davion Mitchell.

There's also the ever-present question of Barnes' future with the team. Entering the final year of his contract, Barnes could be an appealing trade target for contenders looking to bolster a playoff run without taking on long-term contracts. The last few years have seen a ton of trade rumors around Barnes, perhaps this is the year he's actually traded. The Kings could also try to work out an extension for Barnes, or wait until next year's free agency to sort out a new deal. The Kings will face a tricky dilemma at the deadline, especially if the Kings and Barnes are performing well early in the season. Do you trade a proven veteran and risk disrupting team chemistry and momentum, or do you risk losing Barnes for nothing in the summer just for the chance at ending the playoff drought?

The nice thing about Barnes is that you can count on him to be consistent. We may hope for him to be more than what he is, but entering this season I have full confidence that Barnes will be a good player. The challenge with trading Barnes has always been that he's a really good player, even if he's not a great player. It's hard to find a trade for Barnes that immediately improves the Kings. There's value in that, for however much longer Barnes remains with this team.

 

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HongKongKingsFan
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September 9, 2022 10:04 am

Barnes playing a full-time SF should helps.

It’s hard to for Barnes to guard those strong PF. And now, with the addition of Murray, and Sabonis, just relieve his workload.

TheGrantNapear
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September 9, 2022 5:43 pm

Good points HK 👍

SelecaoKOJ
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September 29, 2022 10:48 pm

Barnes is now too slow laterally and vertically to defends most athletics 3s full time. But, once again this team has very little 3 depth. So, you have to take what you can get.

eddie41
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September 9, 2022 10:11 am

The combination on Barnes, Murray, and Sabonis should be difficult to guard.

TheGrantNapear
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September 9, 2022 5:44 pm
Reply to  eddie41

Still a big maybe imo.
They’ll likely bleed on the other end what they contribute on O anyways.

eddie41
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September 9, 2022 7:32 pm
Reply to  TheGrantNapear

Hmm … have you pictured it yet?

SelecaoKOJ
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September 29, 2022 10:50 pm
Reply to  eddie41

the problem is Sabonis is not a great defender. Barnes is declining, and the verdict is out on Murray.

Kingsguru21
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September 9, 2022 10:19 am

Kings are in a tricky spot, to a degree, but the worst that happens is they keep Barnes and let him walk in the offseason. And if that’s the case, is that such a bad outcome?

Let’s start there with the ‘can’t lose an asset for nothing.’ Well, yes you can. And it’s not always wise to keep a player. The Kings may not trade Barnes this season, for whatever reason, but losing him isn’t cause to claim the apocalypse is coming either. It’s really about what the Kings can do as far as trades are concerned, and who knows what that really looks like anyway. There may not be a deal worth doing despite the perception the Kings should deal Barnes. Teams aren’t likely to give the Kings a good deal for Barnes unless they want him long term. Because of that, the Kings are more likely to get lowballed than a reasonable or fair offer. It’s similar to Holmes. Other GMs want something for nothing, they don’t wish to give up assets to make fans in another fanbase happy. That simply isn’t their problem. Neither Barnes or Holmes are bad enough to give away and aren’t good enough in alot of GMs eyes to really want to make a deal worth doing. That’s been my takeaway, anyway.

That said, Barnes might get traded because he might be available for the right price. Duncan Robinson and Nikola Jovic works for Barnes. Is that enough for the Kings? I don’t know. They’d probably want a 1st rd pick, too, but is a 2028 pick worth acquiring Robinson? YMMV on that one.

Then there’s the personal factor. Barnes has kids in school. A trade means he’s likely leaving them in Sac for this calendar year, and he might prefer to switch teams in the offseason when it’s easier to transition your family in doing so.

I’m not really worried if the Kings keep Barnes or move him. I just hope that whatever the reasons are done for the right reasons and not ‘cannot lose an asset for nothing.’ That’s true of major stars like Kevin Durant or Giannis Antetokounmpo or Nikola Jokic. That isn’t true of Harrison Barnes. There’s value in keeping Barnes this year just as there might be value in trading him. But whatever happens, hopefully it’s done in the context of winning games. That’s all one can really ask for IMO.

Last edited 22 days ago by Kingsguru21
Jack
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September 9, 2022 11:03 am
Reply to  Kingsguru21

What about a trade Barnes for Robinson and Strus?

TheGrantNapear
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September 9, 2022 5:46 pm
Reply to  Jack

Every article I’m seeing this trade mentioned. I don’t see what’s so special about this trade for the Kings.

eddie41
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September 10, 2022 10:58 am
Reply to  TheGrantNapear

neither do I. Robinson has a bad contract and is not an ideal fit next to Huerter. He’s a fish hook with no bait.

andy_sims
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September 9, 2022 11:35 am
Reply to  Kingsguru21

I guess I just don’t see the circumstance of losing an aging player, one who won’t be one of your best players on a playoff team, while creating cap room, is losing him for nothing.

There’s definitely a non-zero possibility that Barnes will have another solid season, and could drive the kind of success for which we hope. If he can be traded for assets with the potential to contribute beyond this season, it’s certainly worth pursuing.

When you consider that our newest players, Huerter and Monk, both make less than Barnes, having that cap space next summer could be the best opportunity to improve the team, which would be a far cry from “losing him for nothing.”

That said, Barnes is going to be amazing this season, and teams will be offering the moon and stars come the trade deadline.

Adamsite
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Nostradumbass 14
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Nostradumbass 14
September 9, 2022 11:48 am
Reply to  andy_sims

Since when is “having that cap space next summer could be the best opportunity to improve the team” been a reality for the Kings? Has that ever worked for them?

IMO, if the Kings continue to operate below or around the cap they will continue to be out side the playoffs. It seems to me good teams extend the players they control, like rookies and RFAs, or use trades to remain spending above the cap (quite literally kicking the can down the road).

Good teams down’t let pricy contracts simply expire. That is what rebuilding teams do. Good teams find ways to keep those players, trade them for assets, or move them for additional contracts to compete at a high level and spend accordingly.

Kingsguru21
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September 9, 2022 12:58 pm
Reply to  Adamsite

Good teams down’t let pricy contracts simply expire. That is what rebuilding teams do. Good teams find ways to keep those players, trade them for assets, or move them for additional contracts to compete at a high level and spend accordingly.


Good teams like whom? I’m curious who is doing what you are saying here. And examples are necessary, as well.

Adamsite
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Nostradumbass 14
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Nostradumbass 14
September 9, 2022 6:00 pm
Reply to  Kingsguru21

Ok, I’ll bite. Let’s look at notable contenders and expiring players that make over $15m per year, which isn’t an insignificant amount. Let’s also look at which have refused to match a rotation playing RFA?

Who has Philly let expire for nothing since they’ve become a contender? They even completed a sign and trade for UFA Butler to get at least something from Miami

Who has Golden State let walk in RFA for cap space? I think Barnes was the last, but that was to land Durant, right?

What about Boston?

Denver? PHX? Lakers? I’d wage those types of teams trade those types of players or match to eventually trade those types of players.

Honestly the only one I can think of is Toronto who basically acquired Leonard to win a title then let him leave for nothing.

Now when it comes to the Kings, I can think of quite a few significant rotation players they’ve simply let go for nothing in the Vivek era: Rudy Gay, IT, Bogi, DVV. Have contenders let those types of players leave for nothing?

I’d call that a trend of not wanting to spend. I think you know my position on this. You have to operate well above the cap to be a playoff team in this league. That means extending your Bird Rights players, including rookies, and trading expiring deals for contracts or assets that you can at least kick down the road a bit.

Kingsguru21
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September 9, 2022 8:39 pm
Reply to  Adamsite

I can think of quite a few significant rotation players they’ve simply let go for nothing in the Vivek era: Rudy Gay, IT, Bogi, DVV. Have contenders let those types of players leave for nothing?

Don’t see what Rudy Gay or Isaiah Thomas have to do with this conversation, but they were both handled incorrectly. Of course, neither have been in the organization since 2017 so I’m not sure why this matters in 2022.

Bogi? Scream to high hell if you want, but I want no part of him at 18M AAV with that type of injury history. I absolutely think McNair was right to let him walk, and I might remind that wasn’t even his decision to make. Divac did that for him, he just had to clean up the mess.

DDV? Yeah, if that’s the crux of your argument, I guess go forth. But how big of a loss is he? I guess we’ll find out, but I’m not holding my breathe nor concerned. The guy didn’t have any real offers out there higher than 5M AAV. He got squeezed and nobody seems all that concerned. Maybe it’ll blow up in the Dubs favor, and what not. It’s possible. But I’m not terrible concerned, as I said, and the reason is I think DDV is just who he is at this point. He hasn’t an incredibly important needle mover.

Then there’s the part with his agent complaining about a QO the Kings were absolutely under no obligation to go out of their way to guarantee DDV. I’m not seeing the ‘there-there’ you are. What I saw was an agent overplay his hand in regards to a client and is slamming the Kings organization due to their well earned bad reputation to obfuscate the truth that the agent screwed up with DDV (and DDV miscalculated his own value, too) and they thought there would be more interest in DDV this past summer than there really was. But somehow that’s on the Kings for being cheap? The guy didn’t even sign for 5M. Cmon now. We’re acting like this is some unspeakable sin never to be committed again when all is well?

That means extending your Bird Rights players, including rookies, and trading expiring deals for contracts or assets that you can at least kick down the road a bit.

The Kings have been so bad at drafting, here’s a list of players who hit 4 years on their rookie deals with the Kings since 2006: Jason Thompson (new deal), Tyreke Evans (S&T with New Orleans in 2013), DeMarcus Cousins (extension), Willie Cauley-Stein (not re-signed), De’Aaron Fox (max extension) and……that’s the list. It’s kinda hard to match on RFA that you aren’t even getting that far to even match. And what does Thompson, Evans, Cousins or Cauley-Stein have to do with the current FO?

If you’re not getting anything for Harrison Barnes, what’s the point of trading him? The point is to improve your on court product, not win narratives on basketball websites. If you’re not getting offers on Barnes worth making a deal, then you’re not getting those offers. Or, more likely in your case Adam, complaining the Kings didn’t take a crap offer from Boston several years ago.

I get it. You don’t see the vision, and that’s fine. Its not Monte McNair’s job to make you, or I, happy. It is McNair’s job to identify talent, understand the value of that talent vis a vis the rest of the NBA, and ultimately apply the appropriate asset and talent valuation in the Kings best interests. The Kings aren’t going to spend 100M in luxury tax, they just aren’t. But you only have so many mechanisms to improve your team, and I felt like the Kings used all of the mechanisms in their power to do this summer.

Lastly, I asked for examples. Let’s use Philly. In 2019, they S&T”d Jimmy Butler to Miami. They got Al Horford and Josh Richardson. How did that work out exactly? Not that I love Kyrie Irving or think Boston was wrong to let him walk…..but isn’t that exactly the antithesis of what you said Boston had actually done? Or is that not the way this argument works?

I give up. You win. The flip side of this is when you land in hell you have to read this every day and know I’m right. 🙂

Last edited 21 days ago by Kingsguru21
eddie41
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September 9, 2022 10:22 am

Another relevant stat is his free throw attempts jumped from 4.1 to 5.4.

AnybodyButBagley
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September 9, 2022 10:46 am

What does he need to bounce back from?

Barnes is probably the most consistent and professional player on this team.

RandyBreuersNeckHair
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September 9, 2022 12:24 pm

I’m always amazed at just how often a guy who routinely disappears for games at a time, then goes off for 22-27 pts for a couple games get called “consistent”.
I guess if you mean he’s consistently inconsistent it makes sense..
Professional? Absolutely.

WizsSox
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September 9, 2022 1:27 pm

He scored double digit pts in 65 of 77 games. He did so pretty efficiently on the season. He scored 20+ twice as much as he scored less than 10.

I guess I don’t know what your definition of consistent is but…

SelecaoKOJ
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September 29, 2022 10:53 pm
Reply to  WizsSox

He’s double digit scoring is quite deceiving. Alot of empty stats there. He could score 15 pts in a game and make zero impact. That’s Harrison Barnes. Since the Kings had so very few scoring options over the past few years. Barnes had to score. He’s a good guy. But, he’s no difference maker. I always looked at him as borderline starter.

TheGrantNapear
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September 9, 2022 5:48 pm

Good point. I’ve never seen him as much of a consistent player. It’s as if his extremely positive off court rep creates the on court rep of him being this consistent, always dependable player.

PretendGhost
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September 9, 2022 1:28 pm

I think that the reduced offensive load is going to be huge for Barnes this year. The Warriors started a dynasty thanks in part to Barnes being the #4 or #5 option on offense, and he’s a better player now than he was then.

Fox, Sabonis, and likey Huerter will all have a larger scoring/playmaking role than Barnes this year, which will return him to the role that won him a championship: Swiss Army knife who finishes plays.

Sacto_J
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September 9, 2022 3:07 pm

Barnes is a good dude and a solid NBA player, doing his best to fulfill his role (regardless what that role may be) and I have zero doubts he will continue to do so. If he stays I’m just fine with that as I highly doubt his skillset will simply evaporate in the next few years.
And if he’s traded he should fetch something decent in return. Barnes is the guy I’m least worried about moving forward.

Jman1949
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September 10, 2022 9:36 am
Reply to  Sacto_J

If Ainge can get a first rounder for any of Clarkson, Bogdanovic or Beasley; Monte should be able to get at least that for Barnes!

Jazz Set Asking Price for 3 https://s.w.org/images/core/emoji/14.0.0/svg/1f440.svg

Utah believes Jordan Clarkson, Malik Beasley and Bojan Bogdanovic are worth 1st-rd picks…each (Lowe)

Last edited 21 days ago by Jman1949
Sacto_J
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September 12, 2022 1:41 pm
Reply to  Jman1949

Yes, because what one GM can do with their players should directly translate to completely different teams’ completely different players.
Also, what Utah “believes” they can get and what they “actually” get are likely to be 2 very different things.
What Ainge does has absolutely zero bearing on my perception of Monte McNair. That guy either A: has dirt on literally every team or B: knows voodoo. Both of which are terrifying.

murraytant
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September 9, 2022 3:10 pm

HB is older. Players now have much longer successful careers due to “taking care of the body and mind”, better training, nutrition etc. HB is in the forefront there. He does not own a 1 M cryo machine, but he pays attention. So age is relative. He does seem to be slowing down, less twitchy.
He is consistent. There ought to be less pressure this year due to KM.He will have time for a breather with KM shifting to the 3 or Huerter.
I would prefer not to just let him walk-
it is tough to trade straight up by position i.e., a SF for a SF. Possible but less likely.
And, rather than trading a single Barnes for two lesser players, I would trade Barnes + Holmes for a single better player. Look for trades and if none who make the team better materialize, try to re-sign him.

murraytant
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September 9, 2022 3:11 pm
Reply to  murraytant

oh yes.

his numbers will be down due to less minutes and better shooters at other spots. That’s ok

Want2win
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September 9, 2022 6:31 pm
Reply to  murraytant

I do not see Murray playing the 3 very much IMHO, unless the other team is playing a bigger slower 3

PretendGhost
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September 9, 2022 7:04 pm
Reply to  Want2win

Why not? Cavs had a successful season starting 3 F/C’s. Brown is going to be creative on the defensive end. I imagine we’ll see a nice sample size of Murray at the 3

murraytant
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September 9, 2022 9:47 pm
Reply to  Want2win

Agree with the Ghost. Murray will play some SF when he can guard the other SF- bigger, slower or smaller or simply not a threat.

catterj
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September 9, 2022 3:34 pm

I hope Barnes can have a bounce back year, and I certainly think there is an area he has to room to have one in – his defense. Most of the stats that follow are from Cleaning the Glass

I think their on/off stats really tell a story. For all these, this is how the Kings performed with Barnes on the floor versus with him off it. With Barnes the team is +6.7 points per 100 possessions on defense (7th percentile), a +4.1% effective field goal % on defense (4th percentile), and a -1.7% on turnover % (11th percentile). 

Going past just EFG, opponents shoot 5.3% better at the rim (5th percentile), 8.9% better at long mid-range (5th percentile), 3.3% better at non-corner threes (14th percentile) and 1.6% better at all threes (27th percentile). Barnes does seem to affect defending the corners better when on the floor as opponents shoot 4.1% worse with him on (78th percentile). It seems that while Harrison can close out to the corners and/or stay glued to a shooter in the strongside corner, when a player is ranging above the break he has a harder time closing out, fighting through a screen, or just staying with a man on the dribble. 

In the halfcourt the Kings with Barnes on were a +6.1 points per 100 plays (6th percentile). In connection with such defense, CTG provides putback stats. Teams are only +0.1 plays per miss with Barnes on, but the opponent had +4.6 points per miss (11th percentile) and +24.3 points per 100 putback players with Barnes on (6th percentile). Opponents are worse offensive rebounders with Barnes on (OREB% was down 1.6% for 73rd percentile) as also seen from the plays per miss stat, but when they did get the ball back they scored handily. 

On the other hand, Barnes has become elite at drawing fouls and CTG indicates he is elite at not committing fouls. Committing a shooting foul on a non-restricted area attempt is usually a fail. He committed 1.3 defensive fouls per 100 plays which is at the 100th percentile. Barnes drew a shooting foul on 19.2% of his shot attempts which was good for 97th percentile. Per Basketball Reference, his free throw attempt rate (FT attempts per FGA) was 0.495 – very, very good. His FT% was 82.7% which is pretty good but not great. I’d like to see the ball thrown to Barnes in late shot clock situations instead of Fox as is usually done. Let him do something late and see if he can get to the line.

BrazilianRare
September 9, 2022 3:46 pm

Did the Kings really signed Okpala? I see no pictures of him, interviews, nothing….

PretendGhost
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September 9, 2022 7:05 pm
Reply to  BrazilianRare

nonguaranteed training camp deal i think

Kings-Rebuild
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September 10, 2022 8:47 am

Barnes will once again have moments where he looks like a borderline all star and then also have long periods where he disappears. Barnes is no mystery or wildcard, you know what you’re getting and it’s likely to be the same old song and dance. I’ve been a big proponent of trading Barnes the last two seasons but at this point, I just assume riding out the year with him and let him go at the seasons end because he no longer will bring back a significant return. I guess if the team is struggling at the trade deadline and a contender offers a late first or a couple of second rounders I would take that deal.

UsedToLoveTheKings
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September 10, 2022 2:12 pm

What would be great–and newsworthy–would be to interview Harrison Barnes and ask him these questions, instead of rampant speculation.

Ellis5
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September 10, 2022 7:49 pm

#More Barnes Buzzer Beaters

Marty
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September 11, 2022 11:53 am

Fifteen years in one sentence.

But it sure feels like he’s capable of more.

SelecaoKOJ
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September 29, 2022 10:46 pm

Barnes is on the decline. Asking him to improve at 30? Don’t count on it. He will disappear for 5-6 games straight. Then, he will play well for a couple and vice versa. That’s who Barnes is to an extent. Last year, he played like an All Star for the first 10-12 games. Then, he was a ghost more than half the season. You see his numbers like 14-6 for example, and it seems like he wasn’t ever on the floor. Empty stats. He puts up some decent numbers. But more than half the time, they are not impacting the game much. He’s always been a borderline starter. He would be coming off the bench for most teams in the NBA.

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