After Harrison Barnes was signed in lieu of Chandler "Old No Knees" Parsons, I did what any delusional Mavs fan would do: I scoured the internet for any data that might suggest that the Mavs got an upgrade. Now statistics and Harrison Barnes don’t always get along, but after some considerable research I’ve created a model that predicts a monster season for Harry B. It’s called the McConaughey Quotient.
I know the pairing seems unlikely. These days Matthew McConaughey is an A-list actor and Harrison Barnes is just coming back from riding the bench in Rio, but it wasn’t always that way. Just a few years ago, Barnes was a college stud and McConaughey’s resume said "Rom-Coms Only" across the top. The McConaughey Quotient plots both careers on a curve and placed side by side, the correlation is too strong to ignore. What I’m saying is they’re the same person. Harrison Barnes is going to win an Oscar.
Barnes in College = Dazed and Confused
Both Barnes and McConaughey had hot starts to their careers. Dazed and Confused became a cult classic revered by critics and film students, and rocketed McConaughey into the national spotlight. His performance as Wooderson is still the template for lovable slackers.
And in his two years at UNC, Barnes exploded onto the national scene averaging about 16 points and 5.5 rebounds, shooting 43 percent from the field. It’s easy to forget this, but entering the draft Barnes was one of the most talked about players and the Warriors took him seventh overall, hoping his raw athleticism would translate to the NBA game right away. So far the McConaughey Quotient is alright, alright, alright….
Barnes First Two NBA Seasons = Tiptoes
But both Barnes and McConaughey had a hard time translating their raw talent into big stage success. In 2003, McConaughey took the lead role in Tiptoes, the only motion picture uglier than James Harden’s new shoes. Trying to make sense of the plot would take a whole post by itself, but the premise is that McConaughey is the only average height person in a family of little people. Imagine all the ways that could get uncomfortable, then add a couple more and you’ve got it.
After his college success, Barnes also struggled to make an impact in his rookie year. He averaged just over nine points and four rebounds that season, which might be a solid contribution for a role player, but for a prospect of his caliber it was a clear underperformance. Still, his first season slump would have been fine if he improved in his second year, only he didn’t. He averaged 9.5 points and didn’t improve his assist numbers at all. For such promising young stars, McConaughey and Barnes both struggled to deliver on their potential.
Barnes settling into his role = The Chick Flick Era
After Tiptoes, McConaughey starred in a long streak of rom-coms, including How to Lose a Guy in Ten Days, Fool’s Gold, and the aptly named Failure to Launch. These movies made a lot of money, turned McConaughey into a national heartthrob (those abs!), but critically it was a dark time for the actor and he clearly had more to give.
Similarly, as the triumvirate of Curry, Thompson, and Green solidified in Golden State, Harrison Barnes settled for an auxiliary role. In the 2015 and 2016 seasons he scored a little more and improved his 3 point shot, but his value was still not totally clear as the Warriors won the NBA title in 2015 and went on for a 73-win season. He started, but he didn’t get a lot of touches; he played decent defense, but Andre Iguodala was the team’s designated stopper. Both of our budding heroes needed to make a major breakthrough, but unfortunately the night would grow even darker before the dawn.
Barnes’ 2016 summer = McConaughey in Surfer Dude
Remember 2008’s Surfer Dude? No one else does either. After a long string of subpar movies, McConaughey reached his nadir in a film that jimmied together a buffet of lame stoner jokes, gratuitous images of hardbodies in swimwear, and Willie Nelson. The movie runs just 89 minutes and has a MetaCritic score of 15/100. That’s a whole lot of badness per minute.
Not coincidentally, "A Whole Lot of Badness Per Minute" could be the title of Harrison Barnes’ summer so far. First, he had a pretty dismal NBA Finals performance, shooting an awful 35 percent from the field despite getting a lot of really, really, really open looks. Like some stranded-on-a-desert-island-open looks. His performance was by no means the reason for the Warriors 7 game loss, but it sure didn’t help. Then Barnes got picked up for the Olympics only to sit the bench the whole time and endure jokes on Twitter from his countrymen back home. It’s been a rough go for Harrison lately, but if the McConaughey Quotient holds true, he’s got a major transformation on the horizon.
Barnes in Dallas = The McConaissance
In 2011, McConaughey started to fundamentally reshape his career. First, he delivered a surprising performance in The Lincoln Lawyer and from there he went on a hot streak that hasn’t stopped since. His Oscar win for Dallas Buyer’s Club in 2013 cemented his legacy and appearances in The Wolf of Wall Street and True Detective proved to even the harshest critics that he had reinvented himself as an actor. The period has since become known as the McConaissance, a time of artistic rebirth for McConaughey.
The question is: Can Mavs fans expected a #HarrisonBarnaissance this season? He’s famous for being extremely coachable and extremely hardworking, and he’s moving to a team where he’ll have more room to spread his wings. It’s no guarantee — Dallas hasn’t had the best luck career revivals — but when the #HarrisonBarnaissance hits just remember that the McConaughey Quotient predicted it all along.