Kings GM Vlade Divac swung for the fences at the trade deadline and came away with a much-needed piece to the puzzle by adding Harrison Barnes. Barnes didn’t have much time to adjust to his new team, as he played major minutes for Sacramento from the moment the trade was finalized.
Known for his offense throughout his career, Barnes struggled to find his sea legs in the Kings’ uptempo offense initially. But his defense and versatility at both forward positions gave Dave Joerger the type of player he desperately needed.
Barnes is likely to opt in to his $25 million option for next season and there is hope within the franchise that he will stick around a lot longer than that.
Overall Season Stats: 16.4 points, 1.5 assists, 4.7 rebounds, .6 steals, 42.0% FG, 39.5% 3pt, 32.9 min
Kings Stats: 14.3 points, 1.9 assists, 5.5 rebounds, .6 steals, 45.5% FG, 40.8% 3pt, 33.9 min
You could almost see the wheels turning in Barnes’ head as he went from a Luka Doncic-centric offense in Dallas to the Kings’ "sharing is caring" uptempo style. The seven-year NBA vet struggled to find his way initially, but in March, he looked more like himself.
Barnes brings a different style to the Kings’ offense. He can play with his back to the basket, take his man off the dribble and he shot an impressive 40.8 percent from long range in purple and black.
After posting a 23.7 percent usage rate with Dallas, that number fell to just 16.3 percent in Sacramento. That’s a tremendous adjustment for any player to make. Buddy Hield led the team with a 25.1 percent usage rate due to the ball movement and the Kings' torrid pace of play. By comparison, Doncic had a 30.5 percent usage rate for the Mavs this season.
Throughout his career, Barnes has never been asked to be much of a facilitator, but in his limited time with the Kings, he increased his assist average from 1.3 per game to 1.9. This is an area that he will need to improve on moving forward. His career-best assist rate of 9.9 percent (2017-18) would have ranked 12th on the Kings this season.
Barnes is a pro and a very smart player. He’ll make adjustments given a true offseason and training camp to work with his teammates. He also has a history with Luke Walton from their time together in Golden State -- barring the result of Walton's sexual assault case -- which might help with Barnes' transition to a new scheme in Sacramento.
At 6-foot-8 and 225 pounds, Barnes finally gave the Kings the size and strength they needed at the forward position. Joerger used Barnes at both the power and the small forward positions, but it was clear that Divac traded for Barnes to fill the hole at the three.
On paper, Barnes doesn’t blow you away with his defensive numbers once he joined the Kings. He allowed a plus 3.2 percent differential overall, including a plus 5.7 percent on 3-pointers and a plus 3.7 percent on shots outside of 15 feet.
Inside of 10 feet, Barnes held his opponent to a plus 1.2 percent and inside of six feet, a plus 1.8 percent.
With the Mavericks, Barnes ran a negative 1.7 percent differential on all defensive plays, including negatives from both the 15-feet and behind the arc. He ran a negative 1.7 percent against during the 2017-18 season in Dallas as well.
Given more time to adjust, it’s likely that Barnes’ perimeter defensive numbers will improve. It’s possible his teammates were slow to rotate to cover his man or that communication wasn’t perfect. The eye test said that Barnes is an above average defender, especially against big threes.
In addition to providing size at the wing, Barnes hit the glass when he joined the Kings. He averaged 5.5 rebounds per game and appears capable of improving that number.
At 26 years old, but with seven years of NBA experience, Barnes was the perfect addition for a young Kings team. He has the size and ability to fill the team’s biggest need at the wing and with time, he should be able to fit right into their style of play.
He struggled early to get acclimated, especially on the offensive end, but his presence was felt from the moment he stepped on the court and he should be able to find his niche with the team.
In addition to his play, Barnes brought professionalism and maturity to a young Sacramento locker room. With most of the roster on rookie scale contracts, Barnes’ experience and talent was a welcomed addition both on the floor and to the culture of the team behind the scenes.