In an offseason highlighted by NBA franchises handing out dollar bills to free agents like Monopoly money, a major question remains; can Harrison Barnes become an “it” guy?
As a free agent this summer, Barnes left the Golden State Warriors, the team he won an NBA championship with in 2015. He signed a four-year, $94 million deal with the Dallas Mavericks back in July, giving the 24-year-old forward an average salary of $23.5 million.
Good for Barnes, who has made his mark in the league as a versatile defender and solid scorer. However, Barnes’ career numbers suggests he has some proving to do as a new member of the Mavericks.
The 6-8, 225-pound forward has career averages of 10.1 points and 4.6 rebounds in 28.1 minutes per game. Barnes averaged a career-high 30.9 minutes in 2015.
Despite averaging just 0.7 steals and 0.2 blocks in his four-year career thus far, Barnes has developed into a sound defender. Golden State frequently assigned Barnes to covering the opposition’s best power forwards and frontcourt players.
Barnes is an underrated shooter on the offensive side of the ball. He shoots 37.6 percent from three-point range and 44.6 percent from the field.
A major reason his scoring ability is so commonly overlooked is because when Barnes is mentioned, it’s easy to think one thing–posterization. And for good reason.
This dunk happened during an exhibition game against China last month. Barnes is currently participating in the 2016 Rio Olympics as a member of Team USA for the first time in his career. Barnes logged 8 points and 4 rebounds in 13 minutes in USA’s 119-62 win over China in their first preliminary game of the Olympic tournament.
Barnes, 24, is the youngest player on the Team USA roster. Despite his youth, he will play a lot of minutes for the Mavericks in 2016-17. But can a player who averaged 11.7 points and a little under five boards turn into a No. 1 option for an NBA franchise?
Maybe Barnes isn’t supposed to be a No. 1 option. Maybe he is a fun project for Mavericks owner Mark Cuban to take on. The point is, the Mavericks need a young guy who the franchise can mold into a stud for years to come; a guy who can pave the way to NBA supremacy.
Barnes is no Dirk Nowitzki. But he has a helluva lot of potential.
And who doesn’t like tomahawk slams?
$94 million is not normal. Clearly, Barnes is not normal either. Expect those numbers to take a big jump in 2016.
Information from Spotrac, Bleacher Report, Basketball Reference and ESPN were used in this report.