Harrison Barnes has silenced the critics over the first few weeks of the season with his impressive isolation game, but did he have it all along?
I remember the moment North Carolina landed the number one ranked high school player in the country. He was a small forward prospect out of Iowa and was bringing a massive amount of hype back to the Tar Heel program.
His name was Harrison Barnes.
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A die-hard Tar Heel fan since the Vince Carter days, I immediately jumped aboard the Harrison Barnes hype train from the very first day he put on the #40 baby blue jersey. He was the new go-to guy and fans across the country were ready to watch their new star.
But with much hype comes much responsibility and Barnes was up for the challenge as he was counted on in Chapel Hill to make plays with the ball in his hands.
Fast forward four years and Harrison Barnes is right back into a similar situation as he entered Dallas. But after the first few weeks of the season, Barnes is one of the better surprises of the league and his isolation game has a lot to do with it.
There are 17 players in the league with at least 20 iso possessions this season. Harrison Barnes leads them all in points/poss (1.31).
Harrison Barnes can’t dribble. Barnes can’t create a play. He can’t drive the lane. He’s only good for an open three in the corner….the hate never stopped over the summer as people across the NBA made fun of Dallas for handing the “average” Barnes a max contract.
Now, Barnes is doing it all in Dallas behind exactly what his “haters” thought he couldn’t do.
He is making plays with and without the ball. He is the go-to player down the stretch and the team’s leading scorer averaging over 22 points a game. But is this surprising isolation game something he always had and never had a chance to use in Golden State, or is it something he developed in Dallas?
I asked Barnes this exact question on Friday after practice.
“No..it’s something I have worked a lot on with Coach Carlisle over the summer. Working on a few little things and trying to get better at those and building from there. I wouldn’t say its something I always had and never had to use it, its more so developed over time,” Barnes said.
Carlisle has been sort of quiet about his summer work with Barnes, but it obviously had something to do with Barnes’ isolation game. If Barnes continues to blossom into the player he is becoming in Dallas, this could be one of the better developments in Carlisle’s coaching resume.
Playing in Golden State behind a plethora of all-stars, you never knew exactly what Barnes could be or what talents he truly had, but it looks like his isolation game is something that he has truly developed.
Commonly praised for his impressive work ethic, if Barnes truly didn’t have this in his arsenal back in Golden State, this is one big jump for the fifth year forward in Dallas.