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Grantland on the problem with Harrison Barnes

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A couple of snippets: He'd go crashing into the boards and pull down a jaw-dropping rebound, but then he'd follow that with 10 minutes of standing around on defense. He never figured out how to get to the basket. He never found a way to reliably distribute the ball in transition. Instead, Barnes's improvements were the sort that could be easily dispensed through the media. He put on 15 pounds of muscle between his freshman and sophomore years. He "committed himself to defense." He "came back to win a national championship." He did everything he could do to build the perception that he was competing the right way. But he did not really improve as a basketball player.1 Before Kendall Marshall, the most gifted passer in college basketball, came along, Barnes was pretty much the player he was this past Friday and Sunday. And: Harrison Barnes, at the age of 17, believed he was an NBA brand because everyone in the country already assumed he'd win the Naismith and go on to be the first pick in the draft. But all those interviews, all those press conferences, and all that hype had their effect. Barnes was always a bit too cerebral, a bit too meta about basketball — it shouldn't be surprising that the basketball was always what suffered.

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