Golden State Warriors: Harrison Barnes Slowly Returning To Form


Harrison Barnes has started off slowly during the 2013-14 season. ( photo)

After his impressive performance during the 2013 NBA playoffs, expectations were sky high for Harrison Barnes entering the 2013-14 NBA season.

In his first career playoff appearance, Barnes performed well against the Denver Nuggets and San Antonio Spurs. He averaged 16.1 points and 6.4 rebounds per game, while shooting 44.4 percent from the field.

Barnes spent a lot of time playing the power forward position in the postseason, after starter David Lee went down with a torn hip flexor. In the playoffs, Barnes was not only able to back down defenders and finish at the basket, but he also improved his mid-range game, where he shot 48.6 percent, up from 28.8 percent during the regular season.

While playing the small-ball 4, Barnes was also able to extend out to 3-point range, where he shot a solid 36.5 percent during the playoffs.

Understandably, the Warriors expected him to carry over his performance to the following season. However, during the preseason, Barnes suffered left foot inflammation and it has really slowed him down thus far during the 2013-14 campaign.

With Klay Thompson and Andre Iguodala performing well so far, it seems as if Barnes will need to get accustomed to a reserve role.  Golden State will need a lot more out of him offensively if they are going to contend in the Western Conference.

It would be unfair to Barnes to expect him play as well as he did during the playoffs, where his minutes increased from 25.4 per game during the regular season, to 38.4 per game due to injuries. He won’t be expected to carry the load offensively, as the Warriors have stayed relatively healthy so far this season. In spite of that, Barnes will still need to be physical and attack the rim, and be the Warriors primary weapon off the bench. Of course, it would be a reach to expect him to perform like James Harden did for the Oklahoma City Thunder in a reserve role, but he will still need to impose his will and be a factor on the offensive end of the floor.

The Warriors have been cautious in returning Barnes to action, as he has only played in four games thus far, and has averaged just 20 minutes per game.  After yet another quiet performance against the Detroit Pistons on Tuesday night, Barnes is averaging just 7.8 points, and 2.3 rebounds per game, while shooting 48.3 percent from the field.

The season is only two weeks old, so we should not overreact and be concerned over his limited workload. Coach Mark Jackson is just waiting for Barnes to be fully healthy before extending his playing time. In fact, Barnes played his most minutes in a game this season against the Pistons, so hopefully that is a sign that his injury woes are behind him. Once he does return to form, he will really need to pick up his game and not only a threat down low, where he is currently shooting 69.2 percent in the paint, but also from mid-range (36.4 percent) and beyond the arc (20 percent), two shot areas where he has started off slowly this season.

Having six players more than capable of starting on an NBA team bodes well for the Warriors.  Golden State will need everyone to perform up to their capabilities if this team is going to be successful. It is a very long season and we are still in the early stages, but it will be interesting to see how Barnes plays in the next few weeks, especially after he has been slow getting out of the gate.

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