SAN FRANCISCO — Wide-eyed children of all ages lined up to defend Harrison Barnes one-on-one at a basketball clinic at the Boys & Girls Clubs of San Francisco, and they were dazzled by the Warriors forward’s dunking and dribbling display Thursday.
For Barnes, what hasn’t been child’s play is consistently showing his talents with the Warriors after struggling with his role in his second season. He started as a rookie and after the Warriors brought in Andre Iguodala mainly came off the bench in a campaign he said “wasn’t a good season” for him personally.
“Last year was definitely a step back from what I was trying to build on my rookie year, so now the biggest thing is when the expectations are on the ground, you’ve got to be motivated and disciplined,” Barnes said.
“Regardless of how you played last year, you just kind of have to put that behind you, flush it, and go on.”
Barnes averaged 9.5 points and 4 rebounds as he saw his field goal percentage dip to 39.9 as he led former coach Mark Jackson’s second unit and occasionally got time with the regular starters.
“There was a lot of back-and-forth in terms of starting and not starting,” said Barnes, who started 24 games this past season. “Obviously, I’m just looking forward to going in this year and hopefully have a little more solidarity in whatever position I’m going to be in. Hopefully, it’s not back and forth again. Hopefully, it’s one thing or another. You’re able to get adjusted that way.”
So this offseason, Barnes is doing things a bit differently with his training and said he wanted to work “smarter.”
“Realizing what kind of things you’re going to work on to implement in your game,” Barnes explained. “Last summer, I worked a lot on pick-and-roll because I thought that was how I was going to be used. In actuality, it was more like isolation and post-up. So this year, it’s kind of like going back and refining little things that will make your game better.”
Barnes said he hoped to meet with Steve Kerr this week in person and has a list of questions for the new Warriors coach about how he’ll be used in a new system and what he should work on in the summer in order to be effective.
Barnes, who has sought advice from unnamed mentors who have played the game, has thus far focused on his ball-handling.
“That’s huge,” Barnes said. “To be able to run pick-and-roll, to be able to put Steph (Curry) off the ball, those are the type of things that’s going to help the team win. When you look at the way guys were hounding him in the playoffs, if he could have got a breather, if he could have got an extra guy to handle the ball to put him off (the ball), that would have been big, so definitely I want to improve on that.”
Barnes said he was just worried about the Warriors and getting better rather than paying a lot of attention to his name in trade rumors.
“I learned from Richard Jefferson when I first came in the league that if you’re any good, your name’s going to be circulated around trade rumors,” Barnes said. “Or if it’s not circulating, then you’re probably going to get cut soon.
“From my rookie year to the trade deadline to the playoffs to the post-playoffs to the beginning of the year, it’s always trade talk.”