Even at 7-8, the Sacramento Kings have been one of the biggest surprises in the Western Conference this season. Their record is misleading as they’ve played way better than one could say by it, and they’ve been on the wrong end of some tough and questionable calls over the first fifteen games of the season.
De’Aaron Fox is turning the corner and finally taking a leap forward as we all expected him to. Domantas Sabonis isn’t a natural fit at the five, but he’s been a glass cleaner and scoring machine while also providing another playmaker inside the restricted area.
Kevin Huerter has been solid for the most part, finally being able to showcase his full offensive repertoire and taking a bigger role in comparison to his days with the Atlanta Hawks. On the other hand, Keegan Murray has shown glimpses of greatness despite some inconsistency, but one would expect some growing pains from rookies.
So, all things considered, it seems like Harrison Barnes is the only Kings player who has yet to play to his potential this season. Barnes, who is considered one of the top 10 best NBA players from Iowa, is averaging just 11.3 points per game (his lowest mark since the 2014-15 season) on 43% shooting (25% from beyond the arc) to go along with 5.3 boards and 2.2 assists per game.
Assessing Harrison Barnes’ Performances This Season
Even Barnes knows he hasn’t been at his best. A couple of weeks ago, he took some blame for the team’s slow start and defensive miscues. Also, he admitted to being overly aggressive on the defensive end of the floor:
“These are winnable games and you think about being 0-4, could be a different result if you do a few things differently,” Barnes said. “I think that’s what doesn’t sit well with me, with the team, is that these are things that are fixable as a collective if we focus on it. Until we do that, it’s going to be the same result.”
“I think it starts with rebounding but also being physical without fouling,” Barnes added. “It’s reach-ins from one through five, and I think when you start marching a team into the bonus early, then you have to get your hands off, they’re still attacking, and they’re just living in the paint.”
But, just like the team as a whole, Barnes is slowly turning things around. He put together a season-high 20 points to go along with 6 boards, 3 dimes, and a couple of steals to help the Kings top the red-hot Cleveland Cavaliers, following that with 13, 9, and 16 points in the next three games.
Also, even though the eye test hasn’t been on his side, and his numbers from beyond the arc have been brutal (11-for-44), he’s actually been a net positive for Mike Brown’s team thus far, ranking fourth in win shares (0.8) with a box plus/minus of 2.9 points.
The Kings are 4.1 points better per 100 possessions when Barnes is on the floor. Also, his veteran leadership always comes in handy for a young team trying to make a name for themselves and looking to prove that they can compete at the highest level.
However, we can’t ignore the fact that Barnes is in the final year of his contract and is due to make $18,352,273 this season, so chances are that the Kings will look to cash in and trade him instead of risking him walking away for free at the end of the season. Of course, that’ll depend on how they fare by the time of the trade deadline.
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