Later this month, the Washington Wizards will take part in the 2012 NBAdraft. Currently the owner of picks 3, 32 and 46 go in almost any directionwith those selections, though the prevailing belief is they must upgrade theirperimeter options this offseason.
Between now and the draft, were going to identify some of the players theWizards might target in both the first and second round. First up, NorthCarolina's sharpshooting small forward Harrison Barnes.The NBA combine will take place June 7-8 in Chicago and the draft will beheld on June 28 in Newark.Harrison Barnes
North CarolinaHeightWeight: 6-8 38, 223 lb (pre-combine numbers)Draft Express overall ranking: No. 6 The player: The only freshman ever named a preseasonAll-American before playing a single second on the college level, Barnes livedup the hype at times with an array of polished perimeter moves and textbookshooting. Playing on a North Carolina squad loaded with first-round talent,Barnes averaged 17.1 points, 5.2 rebounds and shot 35.8 percent from 3-pointterritory as a sophomore last season. His numbers and overall play droppedduring the NCAA Tournament and turned what was looking like a rock starentrance into the pro ranks into a more muted arrival.
The fit: Whatever positive attributes one wants to imposeon the Wizards roster, the ability to knockdown shots consistently is not oneof them. Only the lowly Charlotte Bobcats and Sacramento Kings finished belowthe Wizards 32 percent clip from beyond the arc. Barnes' is currently moreof a mid-range than long-range shooter, but at any distance he offers more hope than theWashington's current lot of small forwards, a unit which struggled with morethan just hitting outside looks. Barnes and ChrisSingleton could form an offense-defense type combo. Playing alongside John Wall would provide Barnes with a playmaker capable of setting up his teammates with viable shot opportunities. The issue: At times during his days with the Tar Heels, Barnes disappeared into the background,but concerns over Barnes's inactivity and ability to create his own offense grew louder during the NCAA Tournament.After North Carolina's pass-first point guard Kendall Marshall went down with an injury, the Iowa native's production andoverall feel for the game vanished as if it was one of the baseball playerswalking off into the Iowa cornfield in Field of Dreams. Without the heady distributor setting him up with open looks, Barnes shot 8of 30, including a brutal 2 of 14 from beyond the arc. The display was morethan just about misses. It felt like a regression or at least fears beingrealized that his game is best suited to be a supporting player and not a leadcharacter on a title-contending team.The summaries SI.com's Andy Glockner, interview with CSNwashington: "I think Harrison Barnes is the type ofplayer one team could fall in love with so he could be in the discussionbetween 2-5, but I have been consistently outspoken in thinking I would not goanywhere near him if I had a high lottery pick. I don't honestlysee what is going to translate at the next level that is going to make him morethan a decent rotation type guy. He's a good, not great catch-and-shoot guy.He's very good off one bounce so he has a 17-18 footer he can hit. He was verypassive for large chunks of both seasons at North Carolina. Did not get intothe lane, did not get to the rim, did not get to the foul line. He doesn't havea good handle...I didn't see the raw skill set or the want to that makes me thinkhe's going to be a highly motivated athlete at the next level."Draft Express: "While Barnes' disappointing finish to the season highlighted some of the concerns NBA teams may have regarding how his game will translate to the NBA level, he's still likely to be a very high pick in this summer's NBA Draft, as he brings a quite a bit to the table, starting with his ideal physical profile for an NBA small forward prospect. "He has great size at 6-8 to go along with a long wingspan, and a very strong, mature frame for a (20 year old). He doesn't possess elite explosiveness, but he's very smooth and fluid athletically, and should have an easier time than most rookies adjusting to the NBA from a physical standpoint." The take: Is likely on the outer limits of the top overall prospects in the draft, but only Florida's guard Bradley Beal arguably ranks higher as a distance scoring threat. Starting his career as a third or fourth option might limit any initialpressure and allow Barnes to find a comfort zone against zoneand man-to-mandefenses. Of course, starting his career as the third overall pick and playing fora fan base desperate for winning basketball will not allow him to fly under theradar. Noting the passivity that often comes with Barnes' game is more thanjust poking holes in his resume. Whether it overrides his positiveattributes is a question the Wizards' brain trust will weigh over the comingweeks.Ben Standig blogs about the Redskins,Wizards, Hoyas and the D.C. area college basketball scene for CSNwashington.You can reach him by email at firstname.lastname@example.org,follow him on Twitter @BenStandig and catch his musings at the D.C. Sportalist.