Kings

Kings player profile: How Harrison Barnes will fit into his new role

Kings player profile: How Harrison Barnes will fit into his new role

The Kings walked into the 2018-19 season with Iman Shumpert, a 6-foot-5 shooting guard, and Justin Jackson, a second-year player still trying to prove himself, as the only two healthy small forwards on the roster. That isn’t an issue anymore.

Vlade Divac made a splash at the deadline, adding Harrison Barnes for spare parts in a deal with the Dallas Mavericks. After a 28-game trial run in Sacramento, Barnes saw enough to stick around.

He opted out of the final year of his deal that would have paid him $25 million this season, and then inked a new four-year, $85 million contract with the Kings.

It seems like a huge commitment, but at 6-foot-8, 225 pounds, Barnes is a starting level three that’s big enough to play both forward positions. At just 27 years old, the Kings now have him locked up through his prime.

Barnes is one of the few veteran players to stick around and represent Team USA at the FIBA World Cup. He's played a lot of basketball over the summer, which could come into play during training camp, preseason and through the early season schedule.

Strengths

Barnes isn’t a superstar, but he could be a superstar role player. He takes impeccable care of his body, a lesson he is passing on to his young teammates, and he’s been an extremely durable player throughout his seven-year NBA career.

With young players like De’Aaron Fox, Buddy Hield, Bogdan Bogdanovic, Marvin Bagley and Harry Giles still trying to establish who they are in the league, Barnes is a strong influence both on and off the court. In his short stint with Sacramento last season, he instantly became one of the Kings’ better defenders and helped stabilize a young rotation.

On the offensive end, Barnes took a step back with the Kings, but almost by design. He averaged 14.3 points, 5.5 rebounds and 1.9 assists in 33.9 minutes after joining the squad. With an adjustment period to learn his teammates and the Kings’ style of play, he should settle in during Year 2.

Barnes shot the lights out from distance in Sacramento, knocking down 40.8 percent of his attempts from deep. It was the highest percentage of his career, but not far off his career mark of 37.4 percent.

In addition to the 3-point shot, Barnes is a solid post option against weaker wings. He shot 65 percent at the rim and has the ability to get out and run in the Kings’ uptempo style.

Overall on the season, Barnes held his opponent at exactly league average from the field. He didn’t fare well on the defense side of the ball with the Kings, but he also was thrown into a new system for the final 28 games.

During his time with the Mavs, Barnes held his opponents to a -1.9 percent from the field, including a -1.2 from 3-point range and a -1.6 on two pointers. These numbers are similar to his previous seasons in Dallas.

He is a player that seems to know what his team needs and fills that role. In Dallas, he was asked to score and posted 19.2 and 18.9 points per game in back-to-back seasons. With the Kings, he saw a need for rebounding and bumped his numbers from 4.2 boards per game with Dallas to 5.5 with Sacramento.

Barnes is a smart, high basketball IQ player that rarely makes mistakes and holds his own on both ends of the floor.

Weaknesses

Barnes is solid at almost every facet of the game, although he could have better shot selection and sometimes he tries to fit in too much. Sacramento doesn’t need him to take over games, but they need consistent production at both ends of the court every night.

On the offensive side of the ball, Barnes was very good from long range and at the rim. He was not very good in between those two spots on the court.

Barnes shot just 35.8 percent from 3-10 feet on 218 attempts. His numbers were even worse from 10-16 feet (31.3 percent) and 16 feet to the 3-point line (26.1 percent). In total, Barnes shot just 32.9 percent from 3-feet out to the 3-point line on 386 shot attempts.

While these numbers are not good, they seem to be an aberration. Barnes shot 41.6 percent from this same area on 620 attempts during the 2017-18 season and 44 percent on 820 attempts during the 206-17 campaign. It’s possible that playing with a new group of players in Dallas, including a heavy usage rookie like Luka Doncic -- as well as switching teams midseason -- was the culprit for the dip in numbers.

Barnes could be a more willing passer. His career average of 1.5 assists per game is low, especially when you consider that he averages 30.7 minutes played per game during his seven seasons in the NBA.

He’s also not a shot blocker and his 0.7 steals per game is below what you would expect from a player with his size and athleticism.

Path to Improvement

With an entire offseason and training camp in Sacramento, Barnes will settle in and become a leader for the Kings. He could be slightly more vocal behind the scenes, but he joined a team in the middle of a playoff push and needed to fit in first.

On the offensive end, Barnes is likely to have less opportunity than he’s used to in Sacramento. He needs to find a way to clean up his mid-range game or focus more on post play, the 3-point line and transition for his scoring numbers.

Sacramento was not a good rebounding team last season and they might not be this year either. Barnes notched solid rebounding numbers after joining the Kings, but there are opportunities for him to hit the glass with more frequency.

While it’s not his strong suit, Barnes needs to improve as a passer and look for his teammates with more frequency. The Kings’ fast paced style opens the floor and allows for plenty of open looks. Barnes needs to get involved in the sharing.

Projection

Barnes is a minutes eater and he is familiar with head coach Luke Walton and his style of play. He’s also a versatile player that can bounce back and forth between both forward positions.

Between his stops in Dallas and Sacramento, Barnes averaged nearly 33 minutes per game last season and it’s hard to imagine that number coming down this year. He’ll see at least 20 minutes per game at the three and 10 or more as a stretch four.

If Walton starts Fox, Hield, Bagley and Dewayne Dedmon, Barnes is likely the fourth option with the starting group.

[RELATED: Barnes at center of Team USA-Greece FIBA confrontation]

With the uptempo style the Kings play, there will be opportunities for everyone to eat. If Barnes can shoot around the 40 percent mark from 3-point range again and make some adjustments to his play style, he could easily finish around 15 points with six rebounds and 2.5 assists in 33 minutes per game for Sacramento this season.

With Trevor Ariza and Bogdanovic also needing minutes at the three, and Barnes coming off a long FIBA World Cup schedule, there also is a chance for a reduction in minutes early in the season, which could affect his overall numbers slightly.

Kings vs. Jazz watch guide: Projected lineups, injuries, player usage

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AP

Kings vs. Jazz watch guide: Projected lineups, injuries, player usage

The Sacramento Kings get their first look at a revamped Utah Jazz team Monday evening when they travel to Salt Lake City. A 50-win team last season, the Jazz bolstered their roster with Mike Conley and Bojan Bogdanovic during the summer and look primed to jump into the contender conversation.

Sacramento is fresh off a win over the Phoenix Suns and are looking to move to .500 on the preseason. The Kings also made substantial changes in the offseason as they try to snap their 13-year playoff drought.

Tip is set for 6 p.m. PT at Vivint Smart Home Arena, although the game is not available on television.

The Kings return home following the contest to face Melbourne United in their final preseason game Wednesday at Golden 1 Center.

Where to Watch: Game is not televised

Line: Jazz by 4.5

Projected Starting Lineup

Kings

PG De’Aaron Fox
SG Buddy Hield
SF Harrison Barnes
PF Marvin Bagley
C Dewayne Dedmon

Jazz

PG Mike Conley
SG Donovan Mitchell
SF Bojan Bogdanovic
PF Royce O’Neale
C Rudy Gobert

Injury Report

Kings

PG Cory Joseph (calf) OUT, SF Trevor Ariza (lipoma) OUT, C Harry Giles (left knee soreness) OUT, PG Tyler Ulis (groin) OUT, PF Tyler Lydon (hip) OUT, F Hollis Thompson (hip) OUT.

Jazz

PG Danté Exum (right knee rehab) OUT, F Juwan Morgan (left ankle sprain) QUESTIONABLE, PG Emmanuel Mudiay (left hamstring soreness) QUESTIONABLE.

What to Watch

Bagley vs. The Stretch 4

Marvin Bagley’s move into the starting lineup is going to create matchup issues. Sometimes it will be good for the Kings, but other times, he might be a liability, at least until he figures out how to guard stretch fours on a consistent basis. Utah runs a group of sharpshooters at power forward, including Joe Ingles, Bojan Bogdanovic and Jeff Green.

Battle of the Backcourts

It doesn’t get much better than this. De’Aaron Fox and Buddy Hield are an up and coming duo that play at a breakneck pace. Mike Conley and Donovan Mitchell are a perfect mix of veteran savvy and incredible athleticism. A floor general, a slasher, a shooter and an aerial acrobat.

Kings focused on improving communication, chemistry on defensive end

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USATSI

Kings focused on improving communication, chemistry on defensive end

SACRAMENTO -- The Sacramento Kings have a tall task in front of them. During a condensed training camp that has included a 17,000-mile round trip adventure to India, head coach Luke Walton and his staff have had to install a new base offense and defense while learning personnel and finding combinations that work together on the court.   

“It’s a new group, there’s new terminology to learn, there’s new play calls to learn, new concepts to learn and we get that, so it’s going to take time,” Walton explained following practice on Saturday afternoon.

The Kings have plenty of scoring options and they will continue to play an uptempo style, so the coaching staff has prioritized the defensive side of the ball. In addition to preaching concepts, Walton and his staff have placed a heavy emphasis on communication during every practice.

“Off the court, everybody is fine with each other, but on the court, everybody is starting to talk a little bit more and that communication is the big difference from we had last year,” point guard De’Aaron Fox said.

Communication was a huge issue for Sacramento last season when the team allowed 115.3 points per game and finished 20th in the league in defensive rating. To combat the issue, the coaching staff is using some old-school methods to drive the point home.

“They’re always stopping the practice when we are not communicating well and when we are not loud,” Bogdan Bogdanovic said.

The Kings made defensive upgrades at crucial positions, including at the backup point guard, backup small forward and starting center spots. The added size and length will allow them to expand their defensive playbook to include a switching defense.

“We are really big athletes and we have length, speed and we can guard -- one through four -- anyone in the league,” Bogdanovic said. “I think we are pretty talented to switch and I like it.”

In order to run a switching scheme, Walton first had to install a base defense and then expand from there. Communication and chemistry are imperative when handing opponents off from one player to the next, and the team is working on those areas every day. 

“I think it’s definitely building,” Fox said. “We have a lot of new guys this year and an entirely new coaching staff, so the chemistry is definitely building, but I don’t think it’s at a bad place right now.”

[RELATED: Fox on Hield-Kings extension: 'Hopefully they get it done']

It’s going to be a work in progress, which the team learned in the back-to-back games against the Indiana Pacers in India. Sacramento gave up a combined 262 points over the two games before heading home to face the Suns earlier this week.

“Obviously the first two games we didn’t play defense the way we wanted,” Bogdanovic added. “We showed improvement in the game against Phoenix here and that’s the way we want to play.”

Sacramento held the Suns to just 88 points on 31.4 percent shooting. The Kings also outrebounded their opponent 59-43, which was another tremendous improvement.

It should be noted that the Suns won 19 games last season. They are nowhere near the quality of opponent of a team like the Pacers, but they are still an NBA team with plenty of scoring options.

The Kings get another shot to test how far they have progressed on Monday when they travel to Utah to face a very difficult Jazz team. They aren’t expecting to be perfect, but it’s another opportunity to improve.

“Are we anywhere close to where we need to be?” Walton said. “No, we’re nowhere close. But to me, that’s to be expected. We don’t want to speed up the process and try to rush anything. We know we’re on a journey as a team.”

Following the game against the Jazz, the Kings close out their preseason schedule at Golden 1 Center with a game against Melbourne United on Wednesday. They’ll then have an additional week to further work out the kinks in preparation for the season opener against the Suns on Oct. 23.