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.
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.
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.
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.
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.