Recently, a lot of trade rumors have surfaced about how Paul Pierce could be traded to the Golden State Warriors. The deal would most certainly be Harrison Barnes and Richard Jefferson (for salary reasons). In essence, it’s a Barnes for Pierce deal.
At first it may seem like a great move for the Dubs, and why not? The eighth ranked offense would skyrocket, the starting lineup would be complete, and they would have a veteran wing-player who can hit the big shot when needed to. Not many teams have the depth to defend a team with scoring threats at all five positions.
Barnes, however, is still just a twenty-year-old rookie, and isn’t even close to reaching his ceiling yet. He is the best perimeter defender and the best athlete on the roster. He still is finding his niche in the game, but his potential is astounding.
Personally, I’m against this trade. Why trade for a guy who’s most likely on his (very expensive) final NBA contract? I’d rather try to re-sign Jack this offseason and Bogut/Landry/Rush in the next. The Warriors have four of their five starters currently signed through 2016, the fifth being Bogut. Why break up this talented young core for a small two-year window with Pierce?
Offensively, it’s clear that Paul Pierce is the much better player. You don’t become the second leading scorer for a storied franchise without being a polished offensive player. What Pierce lacks in offensive athleticism, he makes up for with his jump shot and his footwork.
Barnes, on the other hand, often seems misplaced in the Warriors offense. He usually goes straight to the wing, waiting for someone to give him the ball so he could pop the three-ball. He doesn’t drive as much as he should, and sometimes doesn’t look comfortable while dribbling.
Barnes used to show his array of moves in college, but doesn’t display them regularly in the NBA. He also had decent jumper that didn’t get too bothered by contests. I don’t think Barnes has lost his skills; he’s just not comfortable using them against NBA defenders. Expect Barnes to grow into his role within the next few seasons, and when he does the Curry/Thompson/Barnes trio will be like Run-TMC.
Pierce was never a strong defender and he’s only regressed as he grew older and consequentially, slower. He still could rebound well despite his age (36 years old.)
Barnes on the other hand is a very good defender. His athleticism and lankiness make sure that no one can beat him with the dribble and he always manages to get a hand up to contest opponents’ shots. He’s rebounding well for a rookie small forward who doesn’t get as many minutes as most starters would. It’s not hard to see Barnes as one of the elite on-ball defenders in the coming years.
A lot of the points I made are based on Barnes “potential.” Before he committed to UNC, he was frequently compared to Kobe Bryant because of his elite jumper and his vigorous on-ball defense.
This season he’s showed nothing but flashes, but I have a feeling once he finds his comfort level under Mark Jackson’s tutelage, Barnes could be a great all-around player and make more of an impact than Paul Pierce would make on his two-year lease.