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Harrison Barnes is having the best season of his career

Barnes has been great for the Kings this season.

Harrison Barnes is having the best season of his career.

That's not an opinion, it's a simple fact. It's being overlooked because Barnes is on the Sacramento Kings, and because people's opinion of Barnes was etched in their minds long ago. He's a good but not great player, and he's overpaid. Right? Except that if he's playing at the level he's currently playing, Harrison Barnes might not be overpaid at all.

Let's look at the facts.

Harrison Barnes is averaging 16.9 points per game, the third highest average of his career. His only better season were his first and second years in Dallas, when Barnes was the focal point of the offense, and he scored 19.2 and 18.9 points per game, respectively. Except in those seasons he was shooting 16.2 and 15.7 shots per game (again, respectively). This season Barnes is scoring those 16.9 points on just 11.2 shots per game. Barnes is shooting 50.4% from the field, the best mark of his career. He's also shooting 43.5% from three, another career best.

But Barnes' great season isn't limited to just his scoring. Barnes is also averaging a career best 6.3 rebounds per game. And a career best 3.5 assists per game. His steal and blocks are in line with his career averages.

Barnes is also drawing free throws at a higher clip than ever before, with a career best 4.3 FTAs per game. And he's made 86.0% of those free throws. His career best from the stripe is 86.1%, back in 2016-17.

And these aren't simply flukes of playing more minutes, even on a per-minute basis his assists are a career best, and his rebounds would be the third best of his career.

Barnes is also sporting career bests in PER, TS%, eFG%, and Assist%.

All of this tells us the same thing that anyone watching Kings games already knows from the eye test, Harrison Barnes is playing some of the best basketball of his career.

Oh, and Barnes is doing all this while continuing to be one of the NBA's best ambassadors for community outreach. On Monday Barnes announced he was funding 500 savings accounts for kids in Sacramento and Dallas communities.

Harrison Barnes is having the best year of his career. It's not a debate, it's just a fact,


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Nostradumbass 18
Nostradumbass 19
Nostradumbass 18
Nostradumbass 19
February 2, 2021 4:52 pm

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February 2, 2021 4:54 pm

Awesome write-up! Keep respect on HB’s name! He’s a Coach Pop favorite for a reason!

He’s in his prime and some guys take the next step. I want to see him back to 15-16 attempts every game and a higher usage. He’s definitely older, better, and more efficient than his Dallas days, I can see him averaging 21-23 ppg.

Aggressive Barnes means a winning team. We’re 7-2 when Barnes scores 20+.

February 2, 2021 5:24 pm
Reply to  Greg

Hence the “older, better, more efficient than Dallas” statement.

He’s eliminated the mid range jumper, so what’s it gonna hurt if he takes 4-5 more threes, layups, and post ups per game? Plus he is the 2nd best player on this team. If he was on a playoff team or we had a true 1st or 2nd option he’d be great as he is, but when Buddy is 2nd in attempts per game, not good.

February 2, 2021 5:43 pm
Reply to  Greg

But I get the concern since history shows Barnes struggling as the focal point.

February 3, 2021 12:10 pm
Reply to  Greg

More accurately this is what you want out of De’Aaron Fox and Marvin Bagley, not anybody else. Asking another player to bail them out from being stars does not help this team in any real meaningful way.

Put another way, it’s a huge problem De’Aaron Fox is not leading this team in minutes and Harrison Barnes is.

February 3, 2021 12:33 pm
Reply to  Kingsguru21

It’s also a problem that De’Aaron Fox isn’t the best player on this team right now.

February 3, 2021 5:59 pm
Reply to  Otis

Who is? Please don’t say Tyrese Halliburton.

February 2, 2021 4:58 pm

Consummate professional.
Good and well-respected human being.
Keep him

February 2, 2021 5:32 pm

Obviously, Luke Walton just knows how to unlock Barnes’ potential

February 2, 2021 5:59 pm

Good write up on a good guy. Thanks.

February 2, 2021 6:07 pm

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February 2, 2021 6:15 pm

I wished for a long time for Barnes to be traded, now I don’t want anymore. The irony is that his value should be at it’s peak, so it’s possible that a very good offer will come. Mixed feelings.

February 3, 2021 7:19 am
Reply to  arbexfernando


February 2, 2021 7:35 pm

This is good

February 2, 2021 8:11 pm

Counterpoint…just kidding there isn’t one.

Since he’s playing so well, can we get a first for him?

February 2, 2021 8:41 pm

The thing that needs to be pointed out is that this 20 game stint has given the Kings the opportunity to trade Barnes for something more than just cap relief. It was still a mistake to sign him, and he’ll never play well enough to change that, but it is what it is. The Vlade move would be to keep him. Hopefully, McNair realizes this is the time to sell high.

February 2, 2021 8:49 pm
Reply to  RORDOG

The sell high argument is strong and I agree. However, 21m per seems like fair value nba contract at what he’s producing at a premium wing position. Hard to say it was a mistake to sign him with current early returns this season. I say all this and wouldn’t hesitate to trade him. Eye is towards this team in 2/3 years. Could be wrong but I doubt he’s contributing this way in 2/3 years for this team.

February 2, 2021 10:47 pm
Reply to  TheKingsGuard

they signed him prior to last season. There was no reason to tie up that much future cap space, at that time, for a solid role player on a four year deal. It’s like if you paid market value for some rims before you can afford a car. Did you get ripped off? Not really. Was it a necessary purchase at the time? Not really.

February 2, 2021 9:26 pm
Reply to  RORDOG


Love the guy as a person.

Last edited 3 months ago by Carl
February 3, 2021 3:52 am
Reply to  RORDOG

Agreed, in theory. There aren’t too many GMs who are going to be fooled by 20 games. At least, not enough to take on 3 years and 60 million (without giving back longer term salary).

February 3, 2021 5:44 am
Reply to  Otis

I think this undervalues him. At his current play his salary is at least fair value, maybe better.

February 3, 2021 7:14 am

At his current play, sure. That’s really my point though. I doubt there are a lot of GMs that will buy into 700 minutes of outlier basketball for a guy his age.

If he had this year and next left on his deal? Maybe, but I’m still not sure you’d be getting anything too valuable back.

February 3, 2021 8:14 am
Reply to  Otis

Well I still think they’ll get more for him now then they would have 20 games ago. It goes beyond just stats, he’s just playing different this season. If he was shooting 55% from three then it would be unsustainable. But what’s unsustainable about becoming a more willing passer/driver?

February 3, 2021 10:29 am
Reply to  RORDOG

It’s not whether it’s unsustainable, it’s whether this is who he is with this specific personnel.

I guess I’d have two questions for you – if you were the GM of a contending team, would you give up any real assets for Barnes? I’d imagine most good teams have cap situations that would require sending back a decent amount of salary.

And second, what is a realistic deal out there – if we look at it from the opposing team’s point of view?

Nostradumbass 14
Nostradumbass 14
February 3, 2021 8:02 am
Reply to  Otis

Ironically the two teams I could see really needing him if they are to make a dent in the playoffs are Dallas and the Warriors.

For the Warriors, Oubre and filler (something Wanamaker and Lee) gets it done.

For Dallas, James Johnson and Josh Green works

February 3, 2021 11:04 am
Reply to  Adamsite

I guess I’d still be curious why Golden State does this – they have $140 million tied up next season in Curry/Thompson/Wiggins and Draymond. Then $20 more for Barnes, without sending long term salary back?

Dallas is interesting, although I’m sure they have memories of Barnes’ middling play the last time he was there.

Nostradumbass 14
Nostradumbass 14
February 3, 2021 12:27 pm
Reply to  Otis

Warriors do it because that franchise is printing money so cost in unimportant and Barnes also fits into their closing window in competing for a title. They need a 2 way wing that excels at being the 3rd to 4th option on a good team.

February 3, 2021 12:30 pm
Reply to  Adamsite

Barnes is playing better than Ouebre right now, but I’m not sure how much the Warriors will pay for more consistent roles players. Especially since aren’t a true contender this year.

February 3, 2021 12:32 pm
Reply to  Adamsite

Maybe the money was unimportant when they were in the championship hunt, but I wouldn’t assume the same with little incoming revenue from the fanbase and a .500 team.

Does Harrison Barnes really move the needle enough for them the next two seasons, considering the tax implications of adding his salary?

February 2, 2021 8:42 pm

Don’t know if I can respect a player, champion and human more than HB. Might be a little dramatic but it’s an honor to have him on the team and in the community. And he’s been clutch for the kings this season. It’s a win win. Keep him fine. Trade him fine. Good problem for McNair to have.

Last edited 3 months ago by TheKingsGuard
February 2, 2021 10:06 pm
Reply to  TheKingsGuard

Agreed. I think/hope Barnes has played well enough to convince a team he can help them win a championship.

February 2, 2021 10:34 pm

He’s playing solid ball, what are his defensive numbers like? I’m too dumb and lazy to check. Great vet for sure, trade him, and let’s get back to losing and clearing cap space so we can get one of these major talents that are going to be in the 1-8 pick range.

February 3, 2021 12:44 am

Mr. Barnes is a mensch.

February 3, 2021 7:09 pm
Reply to  andy_sims


February 3, 2021 7:18 am

Barnes has real professional skills going into traffic, sometimes it’s like, “what’s he going to try next?” He’s so much fun to watch, not a wasted movement, totally in control. He’s everything I wish Tobias Harris was, but he’s having a great season of his own so I shouldn’t complain really.

If the goal is to flip him, boy the stars are aligned. Hate to see him go, this team would be so much more chaotic on the floor with him gone.

February 3, 2021 7:43 am

Great article. I think Barnes is also helping the young players. He shares the ball. He guards the taller wings and stronger power forwards. He spaces the floor. He helps keep games competitive which puts guys like Fox and Haliburton in real game situations. Playing to win.

February 3, 2021 8:46 am

It’s not a debate.


February 3, 2021 2:29 pm
Reply to  RikSmits

That’s how you know it’s an authentic Greg post!

February 3, 2021 7:13 pm
Reply to  Otis

Well please understand” he knows nothing!” so a grain of or possibly a cup of salt is necessary to take his posts seriously. I’ve been following his growth as a writer with a much better understanding of the game than mine and have adhered to his philosophy entirely!

February 3, 2021 9:23 am

Minor nitpick is HB is not really setting career high in rebounds, depending on the stat you cite. I mention this only bc those wanting to ship him off , the dubious pump and dump strategy, will make the case his is play is unsustainable. That may be, but at least with regards to rebounding he is not doing anything inordinate.

Total rebounds per 36 minutes:

2014-15 > 7.0
2017-18 > 6.4
this year > 6.3
career > 5.7

HB is second in net rating behind Holmes. And his PER is 17. The previous 2 years his Barnes has logged a PER close to 13 PER (13.3 / 12.8), consistently mediocre and aligned with his career PER of 13.4. The jump in PER is attributable to a 9 point jump in shooting in all areas (especially 2ps) : TS% to 64% (career 55%) and improved assist to TO ratio of almost 2.5 (4.7 to 2.1) vs a career assist to TO of 1.0 (2.6 to 2.6).

His play is highly sustainable IMHO because he does not have an inordinate burden to carry the offense with his scoring or passing. He picks his spots with his savvy and discretion. This idea we should trade him is just adhering to a previously held opinion without processing the new incoming data, rigid thinking at its unfinest.

Even if Barnes cools off from deep, he is still a net positive player we cannot afford to lose. We don’t have a replacement for him because Woodward is not ready to guard wings, not now and maybe not ever. Robinson is a stop gap who has rightfully fallen out of favor. We cannot afford to trade Barnes unless a team overpays. I don’t see that, I think he’s more valuable to us than how he is perceived elsewhere.

February 3, 2021 9:33 am

This is exactly why I’m not high on trading him. He’s one of the players under the Kings control for two more years, and is on a declining deal that is starting to prove to be reasonable. He’s a perfect third piece on a really good team.

February 3, 2021 9:46 am

If you ignore the contract (which is neither great or an albatross), there is nothing but everything to love about Barnes, both on and off the court.

February 3, 2021 12:23 pm

Good stuff Greg.

February 3, 2021 2:42 pm

his role as a complementary player was always ideal. His tendency to float through games without making an impact bothered me, but now he seems to have found the right mix of aggressiveness and patience. He shoots the 3 very well, and he has been a monster bullying mismatches.

February 3, 2021 7:24 pm

The thing I love about HB and Hali is that they are both high character guys who know the game, know what the teams need and know what arrows to pull out their quiver to get it done. They are both capable of digging deep. They don’t panic and bring a high level of confidence and stability to a team that lack both. I don’t believe that Fox would be playing at this level without the strong foundation that both HB and Hali bring. IMO Fox is palying at this level because he’s playing with 2 other players (and Richaun) he can trust.

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