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Better Know A 2012 NBA Draft Pick: Harrison Barnes


Editor's Note: The 2012 NBA Draft is just around the corner, and that means it's time to start looking at this year's prospects. We've enlisted the help of a couple of our community's top draftnicks to break down as many prospects as possible from this year's class, whether they're high-lottery picks, potential first-round sliders or sleepers that could make an impact on a team from the second round. Today's profile: North Carolina's Harrison Barnes, by pantslessyoda1.

Team: UNC

Expected draft position: Top Eight

College career recap: Harrison Barnes was the top prospect in the country in 2010 and came to UNC with enormous expectations. Unfortunately, despite flashes of brilliance -- most notably the last month of the 2011 season -- he never truly clicked as a dominant college player, excelling when being set up by point guard Kendall Marshall and largely struggling when asked to create offense on his own or for others. With a reputation built around his talents as a mid-range scorer and key role on a UNC team that made two solid NCAA tournament runs, Barnes declared for the 2012 NBA draft after his sophomore season.

Basic Statistics Per 40 Minutes, Pace Adjusted (via Draft Express)





























































Best attributes: Barnes came into college with a reputation as a very smooth offensive player with a highly developed midrange game. His college career bears this out ... to an extent. Barnes was a high-usage player who struggled to create high-efficiency shots for himself without Marshall driving and dishing to him for open looks. Barnes shot a lot of two pointers and has the size, length, and leaping ability to continue to do so in the NBA, especially when he's being guarded by or closed out on by smaller players. However, his ball handling skills are fairly weak and he lacks the quickness and explosiveness to get to the basket at will, which indicates that his upside as a scoring wing is closer to someone like Luol Deng, Rudy Gay, or Jason Richardson -- players who can technically create shots on their own, but can't create for others and are at their best being set up by a teammate -- rather than stars like Paul Pierce, prime Vince Carter or Carmelo Anthony.

Barnes is also a solid defender who, at 6'8'' with a 6'11'' wingspan, should be able to defend multiple positions at the next level. He isn't as athletic or tenacious as someone like Michael Kidd-Gilchrist, but he has all of the tools to be a solid defensive player.

Biggest weakness: In a word, efficiency. Barnes is B- shooter with a game that requires he be at least a B+ shooter. He took a reasonable number of three-pointers in college, shooting a solid percentage from the shorter NCAA line, and he got to the line more as a sophomore, but he's still a guy who will make his money as a jump-shooting volume scorer. Unfortunately, his lack of explosiveness will prevent him from living at the line in the NBA, and it's questionable how much he'll help a team by taking a lot of middling percentage shots and making just enough of them to stay in the game.

An NBA statline of 19 points, five rebounds, three assists, and a true shooting percentage in the low 50s is what I'd imagine he winds up averaging in a typical pro season, which isn't bad, but isn't necessarily what you'd see from a top scorer on an elite team. Barnes was also highly reliant on teammates getting him the ball in a position to score, usually via a jump shot, meaning that the Wizards most likely wouldn't want to have him on the floor without John Wall to set him up.

Barnes was also a very average athlete from a statistical perspective. His rates of blocks, steals, rebounds and free throw-attempts were very average, which is a possible red flag that he won't be anything more than an average athlete at the NBA level. Granted, he won't be drafted for his ability to make all-defensive teams, but the history of poor athletes attempting to become big time scorers in the NBA isn't great.

Why he'd fit in D.C.: Washington desperately needs a wing scorer who can shoot to complement Wall and the numerous semi-skilled big men that have been acquired in the last two years. Barnes fits this team like a glove, maybe as well as anyone in the draft, and having Wall neutralizes his lack of visible aggression and competitive fire. It's easy to imagine Wall as Kobe -- the black swan who's all fire and energy and the unquestioned team leader -- and Barnes as Pau Gasol -- the white swan who plays under control and makes up for in skill what he might lack in intensity.

Barnes is also a big-time college star with multiple tournament runs who is highly marketable, since he's both a scorer and already very well-known. There are enough UNC fans in Virginia and southern Maryland that, all things being equal, you could see at least a slight uptick in merchandise and ticket sales, as well as general local interest in the Wizards franchise at a time when they're becoming more and more relevant and easy to root for every day.

Why he might not: Barnes wasn't a particularly efficient college player, and it's doubtful he becomes a particularly efficient NBA player. While he doesn't seem like a complete bust, his lack of ball skills, overwhelming athleticism, court vision and dead-eye shooting mean that he'll most likely never become a truly elite NBA wing. At worst, he could very well be a Travis Outlaw-type who can get a shot any time, but usually at his team's expense.

There's also a lot of talk among draft writers and scouts of playing Barnes at shooting guard, which would make his lack of a quick first step or particularly good handles even more glaring.

Verdict: Put him on your draft board, but keep him out of your top five.

Barnes is a solid prospect who fits the Wizards like a glove. However, he will most likely be fools' gold in terms of filling the team's need for a wing scorer. Although he has the physical profile and basic production of a good wing scorer, a closer look at the numbers tells the story of a player who will be at best a complementary piece to a good team and at worst a solid bench player. Barnes came into college with Tracy McGrady and Joe Johnson comparisons, but both of those players handled the ball like a point guard, while McGrady was an off-the-charts athlete who could put up two blocks, two steals, and nine rebounds on a regular basis earlier in his career.

For a more realistic NBA comparison, it would be better to look at Marvin Williams, Rudy Gay, and, as a worst case scenario, Outlaw. Williams is actually a solid player -- it's not his fault he was drafted ahead of Chris Paul and Deron Williams or that the Hawks chose to give him a big contract -- and Gay's had his moments, but both have experienced their greatest NBA success when they were being set up by teammates as at-most the second or third option for an offense. Having a player who can bring Barnes' skills to the table is valuable, but he lacks upside and the Wizards need at least one truly all-star caliber player to put next to Wall, lest they become stuck in good-but-not-great purgatory as a team that will always win 44 to 52 games but never truly contend for a title.

Whether or not that player is available in this draft is debatable, but it's definitely not Barnes, so it would be in Washington's best interest to pass on him if there are better options.