Discussing possible Wiz pick Harrison Barnes is SB Nation’s Andrew Sharp.
I’ve been a Carolina fan and a Wizards fan for roughly my entire life, and the best way I can explain Harrison Barnes is this: I feel exactly the same way about him as I do about JaVale McGee and Nick Young. Now that he’s not playing for my favorite team, I hope he gets rich and dominates for the rest of his career. But I’m not sure I can handle even another month of him on my favorite team.
With that in mind, the Wizards should draft Barnes only if …
— Michael Kidd-Gilchrist robs a liquor store 36 hours before the draft
— Bradley Beal’s knee explodes in a workout next week
— John Henson gets into a gruesome car accident
— Andre Drummond is exposed as the heroin kingpin of central Connecticut.
But yeah, save for any Final Destination scenarios involving other lottery picks, Barnes is not who we want. Any of those other four guys would be better decisions.
If you were feeling generous, you could compare Barnes to Glen Rice, Rudy Gay or all kinds of other kinda-sorta superstars. I spent a solid two years trying to talk myself into these comparisons, but it just never really came together on the court. He’s closer to Kareem Rush with a little more height, and a whole lot more hype. Or to put this in a Wizards context, he’d be sorta like Calbert Cheaney. This wouldn’t be horrible — John Wall could use a shooter who’s not Jordan Crawford — but do we really want to spend a top-three pick on a taller Calbert Cheaney?
Barnes will have all sorts of buzz over the next few weeks thanks to his workouts, mostly because he LOOKS like a superstar. This is what makes him so frustrating. He carries himself like Kobe, he’s got a picture-perfect release on his jumper, and, particularly in an open gym with no defense, his handle and quickness will look impressive for a guy who’s 6’8″. He SHOULD be kinda incredible. But the tools don’t really translate. He’s not quick enough to score off the dribble and not good enough as a shooter to score in bunches from the perimeter.
He may carry himself like Kobe, but he can’t create his own shot. His jumper looks gorgeous, but he never shot above 36 percent on college threes. He’s not a great playmaker, either; he averaged one assist per game on the best offensive team in the country last year. And if his handle and quickness was secretly a huge problem in college, that’s not going to get any better in the NBA. All of these issues will probably keep him from ever becoming a true superstar. (Plus, he created his own nickname and openly talks to reporters about his “brand”, both of which are LeBron-ish red flags for me as a Wizards fan.)
Barnes can help certain teams. Going no. 5 to Sacramento, he’d be kinda perfect as a third option behind Tyreke Evans and DeMarcus Cousins, and people are already saying the Cavs like him at no. 4. But don’t get sucked in over the next few weeks. We shouldn’t draft Barnes for the same reason we shouldn’t draft Thomas Robinson. Both of them will be totally fine in the NBA (like Cheaney and Paul Millsap, maybe) but even shitty teams like the Wizards only get so many chances to pick in the top-three of the NBA Draft. While we’re this bad, we might as well go for someone who could turn out to be really, really good.
Maybe that’s Drummond, Henson, MKG or Beal. But it’s definitely not Barnes. Take it from someone who spent two years waiting for him to break through to the next level, then watched him completely fall apart when Carolina needed him in March. I’ll always root for him because of the picture above and how cruel his last few weeks at Carolina were, but I really really really don’t want to root for him on the Wizards. We can do better, right?