With the acquisition of Andre Iguodala, the Golden State Warriors have two very good players to fill the small forward position. One is a savvy wingman in Andre Iguodala, and the other is second year player Harrison Barnes. Although the Warriors have not settled on how they will fill out their starting lineup, Barnes does look like the odd man out.
For a second year player, a bench role may not be such a bad scenario. Considering the former Tar Heels’ huge upside, a bench role may appear to underutilize him.
To predict whether Barnes could win the sixth man award next season, we would have to look at all the variables. The three variables I see are: the sixth man on other rosters, the potential of Barnes starting, and Barnes splitting time between the bench and the starting spot.
Looking at the NBA, the potential competition for the award could come from a handful of the deep rosters–including the San Antonio Spurs, Brooklyn Nets, Los Angeles Clippers, Miami Heat, Indiana Pacers, and New York Knicks. The Knicks have the reigning sixth man in J.R Smith, who could potentially repeat, although that seems unlikely in the aftermath of his disastrous playoff showing.
The other two variables depends on how Mark Jackson fills out his team. Iguodala can play at the 2-guard or the 3 position. His impeccable perimeter defense means the former 76er will be on the floor in different lineups. When the Warriors go small Iguodala may even fill the stretch 4, leaving Barnes the spot at the 3.
Harrison Barnes is a lanky wingman. At 6’8 he does have good height for the small forward and the shooting guard position. He needs to be more comfortable with the ball in his hands, to pry the 2 guard spot away from Klay Thompson.
Iguodala can also lineup at the 2 guard leaving a spot for Barnes, but that would leave Klay on the bench. For a Warrior fan, this a good problem to have. Such a deep roster usually translates to a lengthy playoff run.
Barnes is still raw in his ability to play in the paint, for that reason I just can’t see him at the power forward position. Barnes is better off the dribble than as a spot-up shooter, a skill necessary at the shooting guard position.
If Barnes, who is known as a hard-working player with great team spirit, develops his game to fill out the different spots–he could spend time rotating between the bench and the starting lineup. Injury to a fellow Warrior may also contribute to Harrison seeing time in the starting lineup.
With all the scenarios considered, I find it difficult to see such a talented youngster coming off the bench all season. For that reason, I’ll predict that he doesn’t win the Sixth Man Qward in the NBA for the 2013-2014 season. Not because he’s not worthy, but because he may not be the sixth man after all.
Considering hall of famers like Kevin McHale have won the Sixth Man of the Year award, this discussion may not be as irrelevant as some would like to think.