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Detroit Pistons #DraftDreams: Harrison Barnes

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  • Measurables: 6-foot-8, 215 pounds, sophomore forward from North Carolina
  • Key Stats: 17.4 points, 5.2 rebounds, 1.0 assists, 1.1 steals per game, 44 percent shooting, 35 percent 3-point shooting
  • Projected: Top 10
  • Hickory High Similarity Score

Why I’m intrigued by this guy

Despite Barnes’ up and down college career, I would love to see him on the Pistons for one reason: Barnes’ presence would mean a reduced role for a certain inefficient small forward.

Pros for the Pistons

One of the biggest knocks on Barnes is that, despite lofty projections coming out of high school, he never turned into the consistent go-to player UNC thought it was getting. What he did turn into, however, is a very good scoring option who, if surrounded by good talent, can flourish. Since the Pistons already have a go-to player established in Greg Monroe, Barnes could be a very good fit as a second or third option on offense.

The biggest thing he’d bring to the table, however, is an upgrade of the small forward position. Tayshaun Prince plays far too big a role on this team. Frankly, it’s impossible to argue otherwise. He scores inefficiently, shoots too much and the offense slows to a snails pace of iso after iso when he’s touching the ball a lot. That’s fine for Prince — he’s comfortable in iso sets and he takes care of the ball. Unfortunately, it plays against the strengths of the rest of the team’s key players, particularly Brandon Knight and Rodney Stuckey, who are much better in a faster, more free-wheeling offense.

Barnes is not only a good enough athlete to compliment that style, he’s good enough to push Prince for minutes immediately. The Pistons other small forward options this season — Austin Daye and Damien Wilkins — were nowhere near good enough to provide much positional competition for Prince. Jonas Jerebko may have been good enough to take at least some of his minutes, but unfortunately, his skills were more needed in the weak frontcourt. If Ben Wallace retires and Jason Maxiell opts out and leaves, that frontcourt will only get weaker, too, so it’s a possibility Jerebko will once again be assigned primarily to the power forward spot.

I’m resigned to the fact that Prince is probably going to be on the Pistons roster for a while. But I refuse to believe that they shouldn’t be doing everything they can to upgrade that position. If Barnes is on the board when they pick, he’d be a clear and significant upgrade.

Cons for the Pistons

One knock on Barnes that showed up this season came in the tournament, when UNC’s star point guard Kendall Marshall was injured. With Marshall out of the lineup, Barnes’ production also decreased significantly, leading many to posit that Barnes is a much less effective player if he’s not next to a good playmaking point guard.

That would make him at least a questionable fit for the Pistons. Knight has loads of potential, Stuckey occasionally flashes some passing ability, but neither guy can legitimately be called a point guard who instinctively makes plays for others yet. Setting up others is a clear weakness in both players, so if Barnes thrives next to a good passing point guard, he may struggle a bit unless Knight improves that aspect of his game in the offseason. It’s a possibility that Knight does just that and it’s certainly not a reason to not take Barnes, but it could mean that it takes him some time to develop a role and some cohesion with Detroit’s guards.

What others are saying

Chad Ford:

Both last year and this year, Barnes was considered a possibility for the No. 1 pick. He’s played well, but not up to the standard that scouts had projected him. Barnes is a terrific shooter, is unafraid to keep firing and can defend multiple positions. But at times he looks one dimensional on offense and can disappear or coast for stretches. Barnes’ struggles handling the ball often limit his ability to get shots where he wants them. That was never more evident than in the last two games of the season for UNC without Kendall Marshall. We currently have Barnes ranked No. 8 on our Big Board and have him going No. 7 to the Sacramento Kings in our latest Mock Draft. Barnes, however, could still go higher with great workouts. A number of teams including the Washington Wizards and Toronto Raptors could use a player like Barnes and could pull the trigger earlier.


Barnes is an outstanding shot-maker, and should benefit from the greater spacing he’ll see in the NBA, giving him more room to operate and create space for himself off the dribble. He should end up being a versatile scoring option who can catch the ball in different areas of the floor, whether it’s posting up smaller players, catching the ball in the mid-range, running off screens, or being used in isolations and pick-and-rolls on the perimeter as he improves his ball-handling.


No one’s stock was damaged more by Kendall Marshall’s injury than Harrison Barnes, whose inability to create shots for himself was exposed … The microscope has been focused on Barnes after choosing to return for his sophomore year… Barnes has a high basement, in that worst case scenario he serves as an outside threat that can slash and defend … He’s proven that his game is better suited complimenting a top scoring option then being one himself … Still, he has the potential to become a team’s fixture at the 3 if his ceiling is reached.


“He has a chance to be the second pick. He’s as safe a pick as there is. He’s consistently scored since high school. He consistently scored more than most in the draft. Some say he’s one dimensional, but he can shoot the ball, which every coach wants.”

What is the best thing Harrison Barnes does for his team?

Nick Fasulo (follow him on Twitter) is a college basketball writer for SB Nation and contributes to NBC Sports:


Harrison Barnes is not going to be a star in the NBA. An over-hyped wingman coming out of high school, Barnes disappointed in his freshman season and again this March when playing without point guard Kendall Marshall.

But that being said, Barnes could serve as a terrific complimentary piece for a team looking to build around a quality point guard and big man. He’s got a great basketball IQ, can score and defend, and seems to thrive more as part of an ensemble rather than the go-to-guy. Best case scenario for Barnes: he becomes a dangerous and sneaky second or third option for a winning franchise. Worst case: he finds himself being asked to take the majority of his team’s shots and struggles to consistently score at a high level.



  • May 2, 201212:22 pm
    by patrice evra


    What is the best thing Meyers Leonard does for his team?
    you made a mistake. it should be harrison barnes

  • May 2, 201212:30 pm
    by Tom Y.


    A better way to upgrade the position would be to draft a couple of bigs and play JJ at the 3. Or if drafting a 3, to get someone who has qualities this team is more in need of, like defense and rebounding. We already have three scorers in GM, Stuckey and BK.

    • May 2, 201212:36 pm
      by Patrick Hayes


      Do you think they’ll find a second round big who would be an upgrade in the frontcourt over Jerebko, thus allowing him to play more at the three? I think that’s a longshot. Plus, if they lose Wallace and Maxiell, that frontcourt is an even bigger mess.

      I would love to see Jerebko play more small forward, but I think it’s a longshot to actually happen. If Wallace decides not to retire, if Maxiell decides not to opt out and if they are in position to draft one of the handful of impact bigs available in the top 10, then yes, by all means, give Jerebko a lot of SF minutes. I think the more likely scenario, though, is losing at least one of Maxiell/Wallace and the Pistons picking in a spot in the lottery where the remaining bigs are projects and the best player available might be a wing.

      • May 3, 20122:31 am
        by Tom Y.


        I just think we have a bigger need to strengthen our frontcourt, and also, like I said, Greg, Stuckey and Knight can all score, so I would rather have a 3 that can do other things. Barnes is mostly a scorer, so I would rather try to push JJ to the 3 to bring more defense, hustle and rebounding to the position.

        I think CV could give us a little more next year so hopefully our frontcourt will include GM, one of Ben/Max, 1st round big, CV and maybe another big from the 2nd round. Oh and Vernon Macklin maybe. And JJ could still play some minutes at the 4 if needded.

        I’m not necessarily against drafting a wing but only if we’re lucky enough to get MKG in the lottery or if we find a gem in the 2rd round. (or trade for a late 1st)

  • May 2, 201212:30 pm
    by sop


    No way Barnes slips to 9 but if he does he’s a more solid bet for an allstar than Sullinger, PJIII, or any other big in our range. Just on shooting and defense he’s worth the 9th pick. Not a dominator but a very valuable wing comparable to Deng, Granger, or possibly Pierce.

    • May 2, 201212:38 pm
      by Patrick Hayes


      I don’t think he slips either, but if I were the Pistons, I’d consider him if they move into the top three. Not if they luck into the top pick, obviously, but he’d be in the convo for me at two or three. Not sure I’d ultimately take him in one of those spots, but I’d definitely consider him.

      • May 2, 201212:52 pm
        by sop


        Sorry but I can’t see him in the top 3. After Davis at 1 the Pistons would probably go for Drummond, MKG, Thomas Robinson (who shares his name with a character from To Kill a Mockingbird) or Bradley Beal in that order.

        • May 2, 20121:11 pm
          by Patrick Hayes


          I’m pretty convinced Detroit would take him over Beal.

          I don’t know that I’d take him top three, but it’s not far-fetched to discuss him there. I mean, he’s been talked about as a top three pick much of his college career. A bad close to the season won’t change that if he ultimately has good pre-draft workouts.

          • May 2, 20126:38 pm
            by tarsier

            I think I’d prefer Beal. But Barnes does get a small bonus for fit. But both are guys that are basically you-gotta-take-him-if-he-slips-to-9 but neither is someone I could see getting serious consideration by Detroit in the top 3.

  • May 2, 201212:37 pm
    by frankie d


    Barnes will be the guy who slips.
    He’s been exposed.  Always overrated.  Typical over-hyped high school phenom who doesn’t develop his game.
    He’s Dennis Scott with a better body.
    You can get guys like that much later in the draft.

    • May 2, 201212:50 pm
      by Alan


      I hear ya, I disagree.  Sacramento has lots of youth in the frontcourt and in the backcourt.  Their weakness is SF so I don’t see Barnes dropping below the Kings. 

      • May 2, 20124:18 pm
        by frankie d


        maybe.  he kings have tended to draft more dynamic players.  
        evans, cousins, thornton, thomas, thompson, salmons, even fredette…guys that use their athleticism and ability to get their own shot to their advantage.  it a problem for the team, they tend to stand around and watch each other operate, but they seem to have a preference for that type of player.  even a guy like francisco garcia has an okay handle, even if he’s not the greatest at getting his shot.  on the other hand, a guy like travis outlaw, who is absolutely dependant on someone setting up his shot – like barnes – has gotten limited PT there, with limited success.
        barnes looks to be a pretty limited guy: a stand still, or one dribble, jumpshooter without a handle.  he would definitely be a different kind of pick for them. 
        like i said, he’s dennis scott with a better body.  he’ll be a good, solid player, but just someone i would not spend a lottery pick on.

        • May 3, 20121:43 am
          by rick


          Im sorry but Sac Town did not draft Thorton the Hornets did and they did not draft Salmons either Philly did. Now as far as their problems its obvious they are void of coaching and with coaching they would be better than advertised. I like slashers/creators over jump shooters especially when playoof time comes around. Barnes is as good as advertised and if Im not mistaken you said in a post youd take Sullinger at 9 but not Barnes. I had respect for you before but now I know you just blowing off hot air. Id take another year f being sory to get someone else if we got stuck with Barnes instead of Sullinger. The Boozer/Brand comparisons are funny because I see more Craig Smith/Big Baby in him than anything. I doubt he is a legit 6’9 so with that Ill pass and pick up a possible future All Star or trade chip down the road. Im not passing up on someone who if he came out last year would have gone top five. Thats silly but thats my opinion. Btw two years of playing will be more than enough sufficent evidence for a Gm to draft this guy. He is a good player period. I became a believer after watching Carolina in torunament last year and this year’s regular season.

          • May 3, 20125:51 pm
            by frankie d

            i should have said: “drafted or acquired…”

  • May 2, 201212:38 pm
    by steve battle creek, mi


    My top 5 guys coming out includes Barnes.  He gets critized for being one dimensional scorer.  But would love to have that one dimension!  I think he can be a 20pt scorer in this league and borderline all-star. btw my top 5 davis, drummond, gilchrest, barnes, beal

  • May 2, 20122:13 pm
    by MrBlockedShot


    If we are lucky enough to get a top-three pick and can’t get Davis I would take Robinson.A PF with NBA body and intensity. Great athlete that can attack, defend and rebound. A curious scenario would be to get the third pick (assuming Davis and Robinson are already out of the board) and trade it to Portland for their two first rounders. What do you think? Just imagine that…Zeller/Leonard/PJIII/Henson..choose two

  • May 2, 20123:28 pm
    by djunak


    I like the idea of trading not sure Portland would do it though unless if they really like Drummond. If we’re still at the nine though and Barnes slips JoD will grab him as fast as he did Monroe and Knight.

  • May 2, 20125:03 pm
    by omar


    please draft perry jones he has lots of raw talent

  • May 2, 20125:59 pm
    by MrBlockedShot


    My tought is…should Joe D pick Barnes in the 9th (as some of you said)..would Prince’s days be counted then? Barnes would take the SF spot. So, Prince,  all of a sudden becomes from valuable veteran to expendable in the blink of an eye?  How would we improve our frontcourt (bigs I mean) then? By means of free agency? It makes no sense to me. Not this year. I don’t see Dumars passing on this opportunity to pick a true C (assuming we pick neither Davis nor Robinson)

  • May 2, 20128:23 pm
    by Bygdygod


    Veteran back up pg’s –> duhon, Ridnour,earl watson,udrich, Steve Blake,

  • May 2, 20129:28 pm
    by djunak


    Maybe Barnes could play SG like the Spurs did with Kawhi Leonard, Line up say Stuck, Barnes, Prince, Monroe, and say Kaman, Not to bad I’d say.

    • May 3, 201212:42 am
      by frankie d


      are you suggesting that popovich acutally knows what he is doing? 
      and that frank doesn’t know what he is doing?
      and that popovich, by virture of his record and what you see, is a superior coach?
      how dare you!
      frank is as good a coach as popovich…his record just doesn’t reveal that fact, yet!

      • May 4, 20126:49 am
        by tarsier


        you’re clearly mocking someone, but who? has anyone made this claim or anything close to it?

  • May 7, 20127:43 pm
    by Johm


    Frankie d, you are insane. Popovich i s one of the best, if not tht best coach in the NBA. Frank is obviously not on that level,or we’d be the #8 seed this year

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