Warriors’ Harrison Barnes working on ball-handling as Steve Kerr looks to provide room to grow

Harrison Barnes celebrated his 22nd birthday Friday, serving as a reminder for how young the Warriors forward is after his second season.

Barnes, the seventh overall pick in the 2012 draft, would have just completed his college eligibility had he stayed in school. In the pros, the tantalizing talent has gone through the highs as well as the lows when this past season his shooting percentage dropped 40 points.

How does he plan to get better on offense? During a Facebook Q&A last week in which he conceded his game was “a long ways from where it needs to be,” Barnes revealed the major improvement he needed to make.

“My handle needs the most work,” Barnes wrote.

The reply to a fan’s question on what he was going to work on the most this summer to improve was an answer he had given throughout his time at North Carolina and after his rookie season.

Looking to build off his freshman year at North Carolina, Barnes attended Chris Paul’s camp for a third time with ball-handling in mind. He responded by raising his shooting percentage as a sophomore to 44 percent and matching that percentage as a Warriors rookie.

His second season saw him appear to lose confidence and see that shooting percentage drop to 40 percent. The struggles sent him back to the lab, searching for a way to beat defenders off the dribble in order to create more opportunities at the rim and kickouts to set up Stephen Curry and Klay Thompson.

Barnes attempted more 3-pointers this season than as a rookie while shooting at a lower percentage from beyond the arc. He needs another dimension to his game for when his jump shot isn’t falling.

And new coach Steve Kerr could give the 6-foot-8 Barnes room to blossom.

“I think Harrison Barnes can improve a lot when the ball is swung, when there’s good spacing,” Kerr said.

Wrote Barnes: “He’s a smart guy that’s won in this league. Look forward to learning all I can from him.”

Barnes wrote of people who doubted him that he has “still more to this day” and that he uses what he hears as motivation.

Asked by a fan what the heck happened to him this past season, Barnes simply replied, “Workin on that.”

Diamond Leung

  • Twinkie defense

    That’s great – Harrison Barnes is one of Mark Jackson’s biggest black marks as a coach; Jackson’s approach, instead of helping Barnes grow, made him worse – and we need Barnes on the court and as an asset.

  • wil

    Haven’t lost confidence in Harrison Barnes, even though, at times, I did pulled a couple of hairs during games and had to vent, but I usually did it conjuction with pulling my hairs with Mark Jackson as well. But what is there not to like about Harrison’s athleticism, shooting and ceiling??? Take this to the bank, Harrison Barnes is going to flourish double under Steve Kerr. Harrison Barnes is going to be even better than K. Leonard from the Spurs, watch out!!!

  • Stan

    No room but up for him. But when he did play last year..who would you have sat for him? He didn’t produce.
    We wont know what changes Kerr makes will make any positive difference until the playoffs..that’s a long ways. What happens in mini camp is love letters.

  • Stan

    Or, to put it another way.. Jackson is gone..if Barnes doesn’t produce next season,then that’s 3 years from a bad pick of Meyers and Lacob.

  • Twinkie defense

    I’m not sure what you mean by “3 years from a bad pick?” It’s hard to say he was a bad pick at #7 regardless of what he does next season.

    As to how Jackson could have used him better – as you can tell from the article here, Barnes is not a guy who can really create his own shot. Just not his game, and that’s fine. So as coach you want to put each player in a situation where he can maximize the strengths he has, and hide his weaknesses. Barnes strengths – slashing and finishing – require good floor spacing and guys who can deliver the ball. Look how well he did in the playoffs against San Antonio, with the spacing he had playing PF. And look at how Jackson managed substitutions this season – mostly, by taking all the facilitators (Steph, Iggy, and even Lee and Barnes) out of the lineup en masse so Barnes has to be the main guy alongside a bunch of guys who aren’t very good and who mostly are either looking for their own shots or dumping it to Barnes in the post (which is not his game).

    None of this is rocket science. Barnes didn’t perform well because Jackson put him in terrible situations, not suited to his skills.

  • Stan

    Its basketball. Shoot it- and it goes in. That’s the situation. And If you want it even more basic..If he doesn’t perform next season with no coaching excuses..that’s three years of a no.7 pick that’s not even a starter..or very good backup. Like you said,its not rocket science. Score,or leave the NBA.

  • Stan

    Kerr better provide room,and lots of Miracle grow fertilizer.

  • Twinkie defense

    He’s not a jump shooter – he should be finishing alley oops. And who’s throwing those to him? Crawford? :/

    Barnes played well as a rookie. If it’s “just shoot” you have to ask yourself, what changed?

  • DrayDray

    he’ll be much better with a higher shooting percentage next year. He’s more of a Kawhi type rather than an iso 1 on 1 guy. Anyone but MJ can see that

  • Stan

    I heard Cohn and Tompkins say how weak a coach Jackson was. Well,let me tell you I thought Mark Jackson had some wacky ideas on how to coach and strategy too last year. But me? When a guy wins as much as Jackson does? I start to think maybe he KNOWS SOMETHING I dont. Because I caught on that for as many times the second string blew a lead..the Warriors starters held and WON. And when Lowell Cohn and Barry Tomkin’s parroted losing “Seven” games we should have won?..They leave out the 10 game winning streak,the wins over Miami on the road,the other big road wins..and Jackson’s two straight playoff years. Lowell Cohn breaks bread with Lacob- that’s obvious. I don’t. I can tell you the truth. And the truth is the Warrior best coaching accomplishments in a quarter century. That’s facts.

  • Twinkie defense

    Mark Jackson KNOWS that he had a 60-win roster : )

  • Twinkie defense

    It was a much better coaching accomplishment to get a bunch of misfits including Matt Barnes into the second round, with no big man.

  • Ian Marconi

    No way
    that season was a pipe dream. That team took off after the big trade and barely made the playoffs. They didnt even go through training camp together. It was perfect for Nellie: he had to coach on the fly. But, that win against Dallas was mostly Baron Davis. The real Nellie shined through the next season, when we continued our bottom feeding ways and fell back into the Scrub Tub with 40 starting different starting lineups. Nellie spells coach with an “I.”

  • Ian Marconi

    Whoa! If i wouldve read that you believe that this was a sixty win roste, then i would’ve never responded to your Nellie comment. A sixty game roster? You must be playing some type of fantasy video gamen

  • Ian Marconi

    Barns had a pretty unremarkable rookie season. 9 pts, lo 40’s shooting percentage. He scored well in the playoffs posting up Tony Parker. He can score PG’s in the post. But, nothing really changed. He hasnt been that good other than a hot playoff run two years ago. But then, you are a Nellie fan. It is widely accepted that Nellie fans are basketball illiterate.

  • mko0lpmko0lp .

    good grief you Mark Jackson fanboys are ridiculous… now you’re rewriting history? they won 48 games the following year despite trading away Jason Richardson for Brandan Wright.

    it wasn’t Nellie’s fault that Baron and company left the following season.

  • Howard Benner

    The problem with “just” accentuating on the seven wins the W’s left on the floor (I thoroughly agree with that assessment I have made that same point on more than one occasion) is that the W’s displayed a maddening tendency to take lesser teams for granted; disrespecting foes like the Cadavers, Nuggets & Knicks, & even in home wins the Celts & Bucks.

    This up & down tendency; plus the immaturity of this team; equates to a mindset that equates to taking a step backwards from the previous season;s accomplishments.

    Oh, yes, the naysayers will maintain “they earned the bullseye from every team they faced. . .’ Was that a surprise? Not even. . thus the W’s had to expect each & every opponent, particularly those will significantly less talent to “bring it” against the W’s. . .

    Another maddening aspect of their game was the FACT Mark Jackson ran one of the simplest offenses in the league; easier for opponents to prepare for. . .don’t you think this factored in W’s (mis)management’s assessment of Jax?

    One more thing; remember the sound byte of Nuggets’ coach Brian Shaw during the aforementioned Denver win @ oracle on national television late in the regular season campaign? He cajoled his team to continue in their quest to overcome the once 20 point lead the W’s had amassed earlier in the contest, maintaining the Ws lacked toughness? For all of coach Jax’s boxing analogies there was a serious disconnect between the toughness of a boxer & the maddening lack of toughness displayed on many an occasion by the W’s. . .

    All these are symptomatic of a player’s coach that isn’t really tough enough; too close to his players on a personal level; to get the best out of them when the W’s really needed it. . .much more consistently than they displayed this past season. . .the difference between a sixth seed & a fourth seed. . .thus no advancement into the second round of the playoffs. . .

    Let’s see what Coach Steve Kerr will do in comparison. . .

  • Bill Persons

    Are you attempting to troll? If not, sorry, but I wonder why all the vitriol about a story regarding Harrison Barnes, one of the more mild-mannered Warriors? Barnes hasn’t exceeded expectations, or met them, really. But why get all fired up about that? Also, narrowing the game of basketball down to “Its basketball. Shoot it- and it goes in.” is kind of an insult to the game. Scoring alone does not a impact player make. You should know – if you spend time watching a college or pro game – that it can be a complex game of chess, and while one player can impact a game, even the best player in the game now could not do it all by himself during his time in Cleveland. It is likely that there exists an environment which suits Barnes style. Maybe it will be at GS this fall, maybe not, or maybe he won’t ever find that place, but the jury is out until his career ends. See Marco Belinelli for details.

    This isn’t a Jackson vs Barnes scenario. Jackson had his hands tied to some degree last year, with the arrival of Iguodala. No need to hate, get angry or troll. It’s a game.

  • Twinkie defense

    Barnes is a big reason why the Warriors did so well in the playoffs last season. But I can see why you wouldn’t realize that from perusing box scores.

  • Twinkie defense

    Nellie did more with less than Mark Jackson did tbis season with the Warriors. That’s a fact.

  • Twinkie defense

    And Warriors won 48 games during what you call bottom feeding – more than the Warriors under Mark Jackson last season, and only 3 less than this Warriors disappointing season (with way more talent).