A Substitute for War

Basketball philosophy

Posts Tagged ‘Harrison Barnes

Should the Warriors resign Harrison Barnes?

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The Warriors will face an obstacle to keeping their possible two time champion team together when Harrison Barnes becomes a restricted free agent. Barnes has youth, size and a 3 point shot which is a combination teams are coveting and this summer there could be too much surplus capspace for him to not get a max deal. Not only is there hundreds of hundreds of millions of yearly salary to dish out after the established all-stars like Kevin Durant, Al Horford, DeMar Derozan are gone, but the market favors younger players over win now veterans because many win now teams like Cleveland, San Antonio, Oklahoma City if they resign Durant, Toronto if they resign Derozan will be the few teams without capspace. This could make under 25 starters like Barnes or Bismack Biyombo the real second tier instead of veterans like Luol Deng and Dwight Howard.

Golden State keeping Barnes is likely to require matching a max contract. On one hand his role on the team is expendable. On a roster full of elite defenders and passers advancing basketball past old school fascinating with points per game his attributes are closer to the latter. Hitting 38% of wide open 3s could be not too hard to replicate. In the 25 games he started due to Barnes injury, Brandon Rush hit 49% of his 3s.

On the other hand when going 73-9 and possibly winning back to back titles, there’s an argument for not fixing what’s not broken. When a five man unit nicknamed “The Lineup of Death” exists the team may want to keep it together. Sure Barnes is the second guitarist of the lineup, but a 3 point shooting SF with the weight to guard PFs in the post still is important part of its matchup nightmare. While the Warriors have left Yay Points 2 point jumpshot creating-favoring teams in their dust, every once in a while Barnes height and ability to get a few buckets that way helps them and adds one more backup plan to their offense. Barnes gives them one more talented player.

An argument against Barnes is opportunity cost. A year from now the hiking cap combined with Andrew Bogut, Andre Iguodala and Jason Thompson’s buyout coming off means without the Warriors could be in a great free agency position if they’re not paying 40 million combined to Barnes and Festus Ezeli. However more likely than not if they need to trade Barnes’ contract a year from now as a 25 year old with the same strengths there will be takers out there. Furthermore the goal is to play the cards in front of them and go for the three peat if they win this year. The rest can be dealt with later.

Whether it’s worth resigning him may come down to the Warriors pockets next season. Keeping all of Barnes, Ezeli, Shaun Livingston and Leandro Barbosa could mean paying Dan Gilbert levels of luxury tax. If the cost of resigning Barnes is losing Ezeli for example, a strong argument could be made to let him go. But if the Warriors owners are willing to pay whatever cost it takes, keeping the whole roster from a 73-9 team could make sense.

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Written by jr.

June 10, 2016 at 11:50 am

Checking in on 2012 draft favorites Meyers Leonard and Scott Machado

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A few months ago ago a comment asked me how I felt about my 2012 draft grades, a year and change into the prospects careers.

Although one year is still short to judge players, there have been hits and misses so far. For example compared to the ‘consensus’ opinion, my grades came out much lower on Thomas Robinson and Austin Rivers, rating them as non-top 20 and top 30 prospects respectively and both have been awful. Other prospects like Andrew Nicholson and Jared Sullinger rated higher in my system and have done well. Both my system and consensus opinion loved Anthony Davis and were fans of Bradley Beal and both have been successful. Both my system and the consensus draft order rated Michael Kidd-Gilchrist highly, but he has struggled to produce.

Other ratings do not look as successful so far. I’ve acknowledged my grades for Andre Drummond and Harrison Barnes were poor, as I weighted their underwhelming college production more heavily then than I do now when rating their feel for the game. Damian Lillard was also misrated after a poor reading from the low quality, usually handheld camera-filmed Weber State footage. The 2012 draft was the first using my talent grading system and my methods have greatly evolved since then, hopefully correcting some of these mistakes in teh future.

Two prospects people may claim my list is missing on is Meyers Leonard and Scott Machado, who rated 3rd and 4th most of the year in 2012 behind Anthony Davis and Jeremy Lamb. Leonard is currently receiving DNP-CDs in Portland after an OK rookie season, while Machado after going undrafted was signed and cut by a few teams, played largely in the D League and is rumored to have signed overseas with B.C. Partizan.

What’s going on with Leonard and Machado and do I retract my opinions of them? On one hand, ranking as high as they did, is in part due to rating Drummond, Barnes and Lillard too low for the reasons I outlined. But I would still rate them as starting talents at C and PG.

Leonard’s offensive development his rookie season was nothing too much to be worried about. He showed a strong midrange jumper and touch at the rim, while struggled to hold position in the post at his age. Overall the combination of midrange shooting and athleticism to roll to the rim, is a rare enough combination for a center to make a career out of even if his post game doesn’t develop.

Where he’s lost minutes is on the defensive end, where he’s been poor to put it lightly. Joel Freeland who’s offensive numbers are worse than Leonard’s, is an older player and experienced defender. Because the Blazers have been much more successful offensively than defensively the last 2 years with the play of Damian Lillard, Wesley Matthews, Nicolas Batum and Lamarcus Aldridge, a defensively reliable backup center who struggles offensively fills a hole more than an a greater offensive producer with defensive problems.

Being a player with offensive talent who needs to improve defensively, is not a bad spot to be for a young player. Many young players struggle defensively before improving with age. While I do not rate Leonard’s feel for the game as more than average which hurts his defensive potential, his physical tools can eventually make an impact on that end. As Meyers Leonard’s defensive experience improves he will likely be usable enough on that end to get minutes on offensive merit, whether it’s on Portland or another team.

My opinion of Leonard’s talent is largely identical to before the draft. There are concerns about his maturity and not every player reaches their talent level if something’s wrong upstairs, but he appears to play and work hard.

Scott Machado’s future is more concerning. On one hand I would rate his talent as lower than I did before the draft. As with Barnes and Drummond, Machado’s near 10 assist per game colored my grades more than it would now. I rated his feel for the game as transcendent at the time, while now I would call it great if close to elite.

I believe Machado has the talent to be average attacking the basket off the dribble and shooting for an NBA PG. Logically, if added to an above average feel for the game and passing skills, it should all add together to an above average PG talent.

So far in the D League and summer league, preseason/training camp tryouts, he’s struggled to both attack the basket and shoot. The shooting results haven’t been too worrying. At Iona over 4 years he averaged 34.2% from 3pt and 74.0% from the FT line, with 40.4% 3pt and 81.1% FT his senior season. In the D League between two teams, regular season and playoff combined, he averaged 35.3% from 3 and 78.4% from the FT line, including 45% from 3 in the playoffs. Considering many players struggle to adjust to the NCAA 3pt line to NBA immediately, these are respectable results. Unfortunately with an NBA job on the line in summer league and preseason, he struggled shooting again.

Driving to the rim has been a more worrying struggle. I see Machado’s combination of quickness and physical strength as similar to Kyle Lowry’s, however he’s been inconsistent trying to drive into the paint, in part because of major struggles finishing at the rim.

I may have understated talent-based reasons why he’d struggle driving. He could have more ballhandling problems than I rated and although Machado has two of the major talents I look for in finishing at the rim in feel for the game and strength, it’s possible he has a flaw in touch at the rim holding him back. It’s difficult to see whether his early struggles driving and finishing are talent-based flaws or ones that development will correct. Notably, Machado did not excel scoring driving to the rim at Iona, albeit his role was heavily tilted towards pass-first play.

The good news is Machado appears to be made of “the right stuff” in work ethic and competitiveness, that may push him to developing enough to make an NBA job next time he tries despite early setbacks. Whatever talent he has, his chances of reaching it appears fair.

If I had to compare Meyers Leonard and Scott Machado’s talent to two players, it would be Marcin Gortat and Kyle Lowry, both of whom have had very good careers. That doesn’t guarantee they’ll get there, as I could be wrong about their talent in certain areas, in Machado’s case he may never come back to the NBA even if he plays well overseas and in general, no player is a guarantee to reach their talent. I rate more players as playing to their talent than most systems, but in a 450 player league there are inevitable enigmas. Other than obvious cases like Michael Beasley, Andray Blatche, Demarcus Cousins, Rudy Gay, Jeff Green, other players who’s production vs talent confuses me includes Jrue Holiday, D.J. Augustin, Patrick Patterson, Eric Maynor, Josh Smith, J.R. Smith, Jamal Crawford. Some of these players appear to be bad apples/jerks off the court, while others appear to struggle with toughness with physical contract and consistent effort. That Leonard and Machado play and work hard makes me believe they won’t be enigmas, but it’s possible.

All in all, it’s only been 1 year and less than a quarter of a season. For both Leonard and Machado and other players like Kidd-Gilchrist, Waiters, Robinson, they could look completely different by year 4 or 5. Even 2010 draft picks like John Wall, Evan Turner, Derrick Favors, Gordon Hayward, Ed Davis, Eric Bledsoe are in a widely acknowledged “developmental” state, even in their 4th seasons. There is plenty of time.

33 pt corrections: Re-evaluating a few 2012 draft prospects

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English: French basketball player Evan Fournie...

English: French basketball player Evan Fournier Français : Le joueur de basket-ball français Evan Fournier (Photo credit: Wikipedia)

Last year’s draft was the first I used my signature talent grading system for. My rankings in June with them are largely irrelevant, both because I had just come up with the system and because I didn’t post numerical grades for players in it. So I made another just before preseason in October, with grades and a better grasp of my methodology.

I still have a few rankings I regret. I have little doubt about my theory itself or the framework, but just individual grading mistakes within my categories. Here are the players who’s grades look wrong in retrospect:

Andre Drummond

Then:

Physical impact talent: 10

Skill impact talent: 1

Feel for the Game: talent 3

Total grade: 14 (Bench player to Marginal starter talent grade)

Now:

Physical impact talent: 11

Skill impact talent: 5

Feel for the Game talent: 7

Total grade: 23 (Blue Chip starter to Perennial all-star talent grade)

Analysis: My most glaring mistake. I graded Drummond as a Deandre Jordan or Samuel Dalembert, a superior athletic talent who lacked touch and natural instincts. This is simply wrong. One of the keys to Drummond’s great rookie season is fantastic touch around the basket and hands. He’s not a go-to creator in the post and lacks any range, but touch is a valuable skill at the 5. He’s also a smooth player offensively and plays with strong control defensively, understanding positioning well and not just using his athleticism.  Drummond’s talent scores are nearly identical to Dwight Howard’s.

In retrospect, Drummond’s touch and fluidity is evident in a video like this:

I blame my wrong grade of Drummond on not seeing the trees from the forest in regards to Drummond’s lack of college production. It’s why watching videos like the above can be as useful a tool as real games.

Harrison Barnes

Then:

Physical impact talent: 2

Skill impact talent: 8

Feel for the Game talent: 6

Total talent grade: 16 (Marginal Starter talent grade)

Now:

Physical impact talent: 6

Skill impact talent: 7

Feel for the Game talent: 9

Total talent grade: 22 (Blue Chip starter to Perennial all-star talent grade)

Analysis: This was simply a poor job done by me grading. Like Drummond, Barnes’ underwhelming college production colored my grades at the time. With his athleticism and size Barnes never deserved a physical impact grade that low, ballhandling limits his upside as a slasher but he’s still explosive enough to make plays attacking the rim and impact the game defensively physically. I also underplayed his feel for the game, Barnes’ smooth and natural game is what stands out most about him. However Barnes has not been as strong a shooter as I expected, albeit it’s common for rookies to take their time adjusting to the NBA 3pt line. With his athleticism, size, shooting and feel, Barnes’ is a terrific wing prospect with a lot of Luol Deng and Paul George in him.

Damian Lillard

Then:

Physical impact talent: 8

Skill impact talent: 8

Feel for the Game talent: 4

Total talent grade: 20 (Blue Chip starter talent grade)

Now:

Physical impact talent: 7

Skill impact talent: 9

Feel for the Game talent: 8

Total talent grade: 24 (Perennial all-star talent grade)

Analysis: Lillard is a stud. He’s athletic enough to explode to the basket and strong enough to finish, is an elite perimeter shooting and creating talent and has a controlled, natural feel for the game. I blame my poor grading on a lack of good Weber St. footage and clips. Part of the reason I game Lillard a poor feel for the game score, is at the time he had been labelled a player with a shooting guard’s vision that may struggle to run an offense. Clearly this was incorrect.

Evan Fournier

Then:

Physical impact talent: 6

Skill impact talent: 4

Feel for the Game talent: 9

Total talent grade: 19 (Blue Chip starter talent grade)

Now:

Physical impact talent: 6

Skill impact talent: 8

Feel for the Game talent: 11

Total talent grade: 25 (Perennial all-star talent grade)

Analysis: This one I don’t blame myself a ton for. Fournier was not known as a perimeter shooter before the draft, that the one question mark in his game. With the Nuggets he’s been a monster perimeter bomber. Although the sample size is small so far to rely on the numbers alone, his form is obvious. I also underestimated just how incredible Fournier’s feel for the game is. He’s a magician out there, looking a lot like Manu. WIth his ability to attack the basket and shooting stroke, he’s star material and could be signature star the Nuggets lack.

Written by jr.

April 11, 2013 at 1:27 am

NBA Draft Scouting Reports: SF Harrison Barnes & PG Scott Machado

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Here’s a double dose of video scouting reports I did. They are two prospects on different sides of the pond. Harrison Barnes has been one of the biggest prospects in namepower for years and looks to be picked top 5 despite some disappointing college numbers which has led to some polarizing opinions on his potential – I look to break down which side I’m on for him. Scott Machado is the barely known 2nd round projected prospect from a mid major school, that I have this crazy feeling could end up one of its top 5 players.

Written by jr.

June 27, 2012 at 2:23 pm

My 2012 NBA Draft Big Board – Ranking the top 30 (March 2012)

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This is my preliminary ranking of the top 30 prospects in the 2012 draft. I will repost a list in June before the draft.

My method is based on evaluating players’ skillsets. A players’ statistics can help illuminate these skillsets, but producing in the NCAA is not a necessity, nor does it guarantee success in the NBA. I see impressive statistics matching an impressive prospects as coorelation, rather than causing that ranking.

I have also included statistical and stylistic comparisons for each player in the NBA. The stylistic comparison may be above or below that player’s production in the NBA, it’s meant more to simply *how* they will play and look in the NBA. The statistical comparison is under the assumption of the opportunity to play starting caliber (30-36) minutes, thus judging the player and not their situation.

1. PF Anthony Davis – The clearcut #1. Can be the best defensive big man in the league, and the value of that cannot be understated when you look at the history of championship teams in the NBA. Offensively he is coming along with good touch, instincts and a ballhandling and shooting perimeter game that is coming along. Finally, has a perfect humble character – the type you build a franchise around culturally. He may put up 18 points, 11 rebounds and 3.5 blocks a game one day, resembling Miami usage Chris Bosh offensively and Tim Duncan defensively. Read the rest of this entry »

Harrison Barnes, O.J. Mayo, and the perils of illogical projections

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Harrison Barnes and Kyrie Irving at the 2010 N...

Harrison Barnes (right), standing beside Kyrie Irving (left) Image via Wikipedia

Last week I made a post about Andre Drummond, the frontrunner by miles to be the #1 draft pick in 2012. This post will be about Harrison Barnes, who has nearly as high a profile as Drummond at this point and is even getting some #1 pick talk himself.

First of all, I like Harrison Barnes as a future NBA player. He has size, can shoot the ball, and seems like he has a great head on his shoulders. After a disastrous start to his freshman season at UNC, he turned it around and produced at a solid level the 2nd half. But it’s clear to me that he’s not the player he was projected to be out of high school. Read the rest of this entry »

Written by jr.

October 9, 2011 at 3:17 pm