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Why Harrison Barnes has succeeded, and where he can still improve

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A deep analytical look at which areas Barnes has succeeded and struggles.

NBA: Cleveland Cavaliers at Dallas Mavericks Jerome Miron-USA TODAY Sports

Harrison Barnes is having a breakout year in his first season with the Mavericks. On both the offensive and defensive ends of the floor, Barnes is excelling and ranks in the top of the league in many statistical categories. His one-on-one, post up, and pick and roll play stand out on the offensive end, while defensively, just like his days in Golden State, Barnes continues to show his ability to effectively defend various different play types. As well as Barnes has played this season in Dallas, there are several areas in his game which, if improved, could take his individual performance and that of the overall Maverick’s team higher over the course of the rest of the season.

Let’s breakdown Barnes’s game and take a deeper look as how he has performed over the first half of the 2016-2017 season.

Statistics: 20.4 ppg, 5.3 rpg, 47% FG, 86% FT, 35% 3PT (46 Games)

Strengths

Offensive End

One-on-One: Isolation plays makes up 26% of Barnes’ offensive production, ranking him in the 70th percentile in the league, scoring 230 points on 240 possessions. Barnes is most efficient when isolating from the top of the key, as he ranks in the 74th percentile in the league. He is also strong from the right and left wings, where he ranks in the 56th and 52nd percentile in the league, respectively. From the top, Barnes will drive it either direction and prefers rhythm jumpers and or pull-ups off of the dribble. In left and right side ISOs, Barnes does a great job mixing it up. He can drive both directions to the basket and can also work off of his triple threat to create space for no dribble jumpers. He also has the ability to get to his mid-range pull-up when defenders force him off of his perimeter shot. Basically, Barnes is a dynamic and highly skilled isolation player.

Post Up Play: Barnes possess a strong post up game, which ranks in the 79th percentile in the NBA. He averages 1.01 points per possession in the post. From both blocks, Barnes scores it in a variety of ways. From the left block, he will turn over both shoulders to score it. When turning over his left shoulder, Barnes will look to get to his jumper and hook. Going over his right shoulder from the left block, Barnes loves the drop step. From the right block, Barnes likes to turn middle over his right shoulder and work his jumper and drop step.

Roll Man Production: Barnes is a highly effective screener in pick and roll situations. He currently ranks in the 83rd percentile in the league and has scored 101 points on 83 possessions. This play type makes up only 9% of his overall offense, but as indicated by his numbers, Barnes is highly efficient in these situations. One reason for this is that Barnes is a great pick and pop player. He is averaging 1.085 points per possession on these plays and can either flare out for jumpers or effectively drive it to the basket if his initial pop is taken away.

Defensive End

Pick and Roll Defense: Dating back to his time at the University of North Carolina, Barnes has been a strong defender. This year with the Mavs, his P&R coverage has really stood out. He ranks in the 93rd percentile in the league, guarding the ball handler and rates out in the 74th percentile guarding the roller out of P&Rs. He is a versatility defender who can successfully guard in different situations.

One-on-One Coverage: Barnes is also a superb individual defender. He currently ranks in the 90th percentile in the league. He is allowing just .64 points per possession, giving up 23 points on 36 possessions. He is great in coverage from all areas on the floor, due in apart to his high basketball IQ and great athleticism.

Hand Off Coverage: In hand offs and or dribble hand offs, Barnes rates out as the best player in the league (100th percentile). He has allowed 4 points on 23 possessions and has held the opposition to 9.5 percent shooting from the field. This is extremely impressive, considering he does many other things well on the defensive end.

Weaknesses

Offensive End

Off-Ball Screens: Despite the many areas in which Barnes excels offensively, he is posting just average numbers off of screens. Barnes likes to come off to his left side, and in doing so he often employs straight cuts and curls to free himself for looks. When coming off to his right, Barnes has struggled, ranking in the 24th percentile in the league, by averaging just .87 points per possession. Focusing on improving his footwork and balance could reap benefits for Barnes as he looks to become a more efficient off ball scorer.

Post Facilitation: Another area where Barnes could stand to improve is with his passing out of post situations when double-teamed. He ranks in the 46th percentile in the league in this category. When posting up on the right block and on flashes to the middle, when the trap comes, Barnes seldom looks for his teammates. In fact, Barnes has passed out of these posting situations a total of 13 times this season. On the left block, he finds teammates more frequently but not efficiently. He has facilitated for just 12 points on 14 possessions, which ranks him in the 40th percentile in the league.

One-on-One Offense: Another area where Barnes could improve is his playmaking out of pick and roll situations. So far this season, he ranks in the 23rd percentile in the league as the ball handler in pick and roll offense, scoring just 34 points on 42 possessions. He especially struggles when passing out of P&Rs. He ranks in the 22nd percentile, with .92 points per possession.

Defensive end

Screen Defense: For all of the great things that Barnes provides the Mavs on defense, guarding players through screening action is not one of them. He struggles to get through flares, curls, and straight cuts. So far this season, Barnes is giving up 1.33 points per possession in total to players in off the ball screens, ranking him in the 9th percentile in the league. Luckily, this makes up only 6% of his total plays on the defensive end.

Pick and Roll Defense Guarding the Ball Handler: Interestingly, both on the offensive and defensive sides of the ball, Barnes struggles with the ball handling piece of P&Rs. On defense, he rates out in the 20th percentile in the league when guarding the ball handler and is allowing the opposition 45 percent shooting from the field in these situations.

Isolation Drives: So far this season, Barnes has proven to be a superb individual defender. However, in situations where his offender drives him left out of ISOs, he has struggled. So far this season, Barnes has given up 14 points on 14 possessions when his man drives left out of ISOs, ranking him in the 30th percentile in the league. There is not too much to fault Barnes for on the defensive end. However, keeping his man in front from both sides of the floor is something he needs work on.

Jake Rauchbach coached at the collegiate level, founded The MindRight Pro Program and trained numerous professional and Olympic athletes. Now, Rauchbach writes about the NBA and college basketball for Basketball Insiders and serves as the Player Performance Specialist for The Temple University's men's basketball team.