It’s old news: the Golden State Warriors signed Andre Iguodala this offseason. A great addition yes (check out what I think of the
addition here), but in doing so the role of Harrison Barnes changes drastically.
The question is, will it help Barnes grow into his potential, or could it hurt his development because his minutes will be decreased?
Let’s take a look quickly at Barnes’ past:
In high school, Barnes was the star player on a team that included Creighton standout Doug McDermott. He was heavily recruited and touted as the top high school recruit in the nation and ended up landing at North Carolina.
At North Carolina, he was thrust into a starting role and was expected to perform at an elite-level straight out of high school. As a freshman, Barnes averaged 15.7 points, 5.8 rebounds, and 1.4 assists per game in 29.4 minutes. After deciding to come back to college for his sophomore season rather than entering the draft, Barnes’ numbers remained basically the same at 17.1 points, 5.2 rebounds and 1.1 assists per game in 29.2 minutes. Although his numbers were not bad his freshman year, he was projected to be a first-team All-American, so in a lot of ways, he underachieved. Then, by decided to come back to college, that shows he felt he wasn’t ready for the pros and wanted a year to develop his game, but his numbers were more or less the same. He did not make the leap many hoped he would.
Last season, Barnes was a rookie thrust again into the starting role for a team expecting him to produce. This time, Barnes averaged 13.1 points, 5.8 rebounds, and 1.7 assists per 36 during the regular season. In the playoffs, he upped his averages to 15.1, 6.0, and 1.2 per 36, respectively.
However, instead of simply throwing him into the starting lineup for another season, Barnes will have a great opportunity this year. He will be able to come off the bench, largely against the opponents second-tier players, much like James Harden did for the Thunder in previous seasons. He will be able to gain confidence in being able to play against the opponent’s bench and will have the chance to learn and grow behind Andre Iguodala.
Coming off the bench will be something almost completely foreign to Barnes though. At North Carolina, he came off the bench a total of two times in 75 games and then started all 93 games he played in for the Warriors last year (playoffs included). Some players thrive in the sixth man role (Jason Terry, JR Smith and Manu Ginobli come to mind) while others do not respond as positively.
Much of the success of the new situation will rely on Barnes’ mind set. If he is willing to use this season as a year to grow and develop his game behind a very good veteran player, then this season could be valuable in allowing Barnes to reach his potential. However, if he is upset about being put on the bench for the start of games and doesn’t take in the grand scheme of his career into account, then this move could potentially hurt Barnes career and the Warriors may find themselves looking to trade the player away down the road.