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.”