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Golden State Warriors: Comparing Harrison Barnes To The NBA’s 3 Best Small Forwards


Golden State Warriors’ small forward Harrison Barnes is taking the Bay Area by storm.

Not only does he have a great work ethic, but last year, in only his rookie season, he was also able to exhibit some of his veteran patience as well as offensive explosions to the basket.

The Warriors signed Andre Iguodala in the offseason to be the starting small forward, but to Barnes, it makes no difference.

He’s likely going to be the Warriors’ sixth man, and will be a solid contributor. Last year, that was Jarrett Jack, who was able to get starter minutes.  Barnes will get around 30 minutes per game, which is a lot more than last year. This time, he won’t be a starter, and it’s not a bad thing at all.

In fact, I think that it’s the best thing that he could need right now.

So how does Barnes match up to the league’s three best small forwards?

LeBron James:

Well he doesn’t have to be considered a small forward, but James is one of the best players in the league, regardless of his position. He excels in almost every aspect of the game, and he is the most dominant player in the game today.

How does he compare with one of the up-and-coming rookies, who will likely be classified one day as one of the best small forwards in his prime?

Shooting: James is by no means a natural jump-shooter, but he is so good in every other aspect that his confidence allows him to get hot from the outside from time to time.

Barnes, on the other hand, is a great shooter, and was valued in the draft for his shooting ability. Although the Warriors want him to drive the ball more often, he is still a natural shooter, and does come close to comparison with James. Barnes will reach James’s shooting level someday.

Driving Skill: Well, this one is an obvious one. When you have a 250-pound guy running at you trying get to the basket, you either can’t stop him, or end up on the ground.

Either way, the results aren’t pretty. James is pure muscle, and no matter the defender, will always be able to get to the rim. Barnes is a crafty scorer, but when it comes to finishing at the rim, he is obviously nowhere near James’ skill level. Barnes will never be close to James’s ability to finish at the rim.

Kevin Durant: 

Again, there’s no doubt in our minds that Kevin Durant should be on this list, considering he is one of the best scorers that the NBA has to offer. Durant is tall, lengthy, and quick, and these traits enable him to be one of these most unstoppably scorers.

How does he compare with this up-and-coming small forward?

Shooting: Durant can get hot in a hurry, but when he needs to get quick buckets, his first instinct is to attack the basket. With that being said, he isn’t the best shooter in the NBA, nor does he need to be.

Barnes, again, is a natural shooter and he lets his shot come to him. If Barnes can get hot, he could be one of the best shooting small forwards. Barnes will catch Durant in terms of shooting ability.

Driving Skill: How do you stop a quick small forward who is a good four or five inches taller than you?

You can’t, it would be almost impossible. This is why teams have such a tough time defending Durant. He has the all-time scoring average against the Warriors already and is always looking to attack the basket for a quick hoop.

Barnes may be good at attacking the basket, but he can be stopped easily. Barnes cannot catch Durant in terms of driving the ball.

Carmelo Anthony:

And last on the list, but certainly not the worst in terms of scoring, is Carmelo Anthony, who, in fact, was the scoring champion for the 2012-2013 NBA season.

Anthony will get rebounds and occasionally some assists, but most of his contributions will come from points. He seems the most comparable to Barnes at this point.

Shooting: Anthony, behind only Stephen Curry, has the second fastest release in the NBA. When he gets hot, he can really stroke it.

He makes threes from all over the court, and his main offensive move is a pull-up midrange shot. He’s a great shooter, and one of the best in the league, even if he wasn’t in the 3-point contest. Barnes may be able to stroke it, but he won’t ever be as good as Anthony is in terms of shooting the basketball.

Driving Skill: Compared with your average player, Anthony is pretty good at driving the basketball. Unfortunately, he’s not very quick or particularly clever when it comes to scoring on the inside. Barnes will easily be able to catch him in this department.

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