On the surface you may look at Harrison Barnes’ .395 3PT shooting percentage, and think he’s playing well. But let’s take a slightly deeper look into how Barnes has performed this season, and especially in his most recent slump. Barnes’ eFG (effective Field Goal percentage) has fallen every year since his career high back in the 2014-15 season in Golden State. So far in the 2018-19 season, Barnes has an eFG of .412 which is his lowest since entering the NBA.
In this most recent 10 game stretch, Barnes averaging 31% from the floor, 33% from 3, 1.5 assists, and 4 rebounds per game. Each of these stats, minus assists, would be career lows for Barnes. At the end of the day Harrison has just been flat out bad. This doesn’t get into his inability to drive and kick, and him taking forced shots into the lane because of this. Barnes has also, at least from the eye test, slowed the offense to a halt while attempting to ISO and shoot himself out of his slump.
On The season Barnes has also been unable to be an overall net-positive. Looking at 2 man lineups Barnes and Luka are a -2.9, Barnes and DSJ are a -3.7, and worst of all Barnes and Wesley Matthews are a -4.0 on the court together. Compare this with Even Doncic and Dennis Smith, who we have all talked about having trouble meshing and are combined younger than Dirk. Doncic and Smith are a -4.9 on the season but have improved to -3.6 in since Smith’s return.
There are multiple problems with this Dallas team, but when your highest paid player is one that has been arguably the worst on the team, you have to make changes. Carlisle has been hesitant to change the starting 5, but it’s more than due time for a change. Doncic is the player of the Maverick’s future, and you have to build around that. At this very moment, Harrison Barnes does not fit that mold. I’m not certain there is any reasonable return we can get for Barnes before the February 7th trade deadline, and I assume that Barnes will opt-in to his $25 Million player option despite some cryptic messaging in a recent interview with Isaac Harris. If Barnes is here for the next season, I think we need to look at his role, and his ability to play off the ball. So far in his tenure with Dallas, Barnes has been the guy, and that changed overnight. 3 years ago when he signed, ISO heavy basketball was still the norm, that’s since been put to they wayside in favor of fast-pacing and constant ball movement.
For the nth time in his career, Harrison Barnes has to adapt to a team not built around him, and the NBA game changing in the blink of an eye. I want Barnes to succeed, and I hope it’s in a Mavericks uniform. At this very moment, though, it is hard to see how Barnes fits into Dallas’ current or future plans, and with his well below sub-par playing before the deadline, and his large contract it’s hard to see him being traded to a playoff team for a young piece. Only time will tell what happens in the following weeks and months, but as of right this moment, Barnes is back to being a theoretical shooter.