The Black Falcon Rises: An Appreciation of Harrison Barnes

The Golden State Warriors have received key contributions from so many different players, it’s easy to overlook the important individual efforts of their role players. Today, we take a moment to shout out Harrison Barnes, the role player lurking in the shadows, or actually in the right corner 3.

Barnes is not an MVP, nor is he the MVP’s sharpshooting sidekick. He isn’t the versatile 6-6 pitbull, or a former All-NBA wing and Olympian. To the many NBA fans watching the Warriors for the first time, Harrison Barnes is just another guy. But lest we forget, he is still The Black Falcon. A key stretch four to the Warriors, and capable of guarding both James Harden and Zach Randolph. And in this series, Barnes has quietly contributed and helped position Golden State to just one win away from the NBA title. Here’s a breakdown of his performances game-by-game:

Game 1

11 points, 6 rebounds (2 off.), 4-9 shooting (3-5 from three)

If you were to write down an ideal stat line for a fourth option on offense, this is pretty darn close. He is present on offense, spacing the floor, and hitting the boards with his size.

Game 2

11 points, 6 rebounds (4 off.), 5-10 shooting (0-4 from three)

Identical numbers to Game 1. Apparently, these Barnes stat lines are no indicator of the outcome of the game. The Warriors won Game 1 and lost Game 2, and Barnes played roughly the same. What’s interesting is that Barnes led all Warriors in +/- in both games. I’m not smart enough to know what that means. Just stating a fact.

Game 3

0 points, 3 rebounds (3 off.), 0-8 shooting (0-1 from three)

Yikes. One of the biggest reasons Golden State looked bad in Game 3, before miraculous shots by Steph Curry made it even somewhat close, was the absence of Barnes and Draymond on offense. Barnes just looked like he didn’t want to be on the court in that game. He couldn’t hit squat, which affected his confidence, so it got in his head, so Kerr sat him.

Game 4

14 points, 8 rebounds (3 off.), 4-9 shooting (2-5 from three)

Barnes really bounced back from that putrid Game 3. He improved off that “ideal” fourth option stat line and did his part with Kerr downsizing. I was eager to see how he and the rest of the Warriors would respond to a mediocre performance, and they really turned it on.

Game 5

8 points, 10 rebounds (6 off.), 3-7 shooting

Modest line aside, this was by far my favorite performance of Barnes’ this series. He scored some points when his team needed it, authoritatively accented on two dunks. The one in the first video above, and this one below.

Sometimes you forget Barnes has some ups, and then he just destroys LeBron and Mt. Mozgov. Somewhere, Nikola Pekovic felt a shiver down his spine.

The scoring did not come often, but it was timely. It was everything else on the stat line that I loved. As the tallest Warrior on the floor most of the time, he didn’t shy away from rebounds. He actually led the Warriors in that category. Six offensive boards is no joke, especially with Tristan Thompson prowling the paint. Remember that huge Andre Iguodala and-1 off a Klay Thompson miss? Barnes was the one who tipped the miss to Iggy. It’s a small play, but it’s a winning play.

Let’s see how Barnes plays in Game 6. There’s certainly a good correlation between his good play and the success of Golden State. But I’ll be interested to see how he affects the game. Will he pull another no-show, or will he be pulling 3s? Cleaning up the boards? Guarding Dellavedova, LeBron and Mozgov on consecutive plays? Or dunking on anyone who would still doubt the Black Falcon? One can only hope.

Cover photo is a wallpaper designed by AG Productions.

ANDREW TIE | @Andrew_Tie

Andrew Tie is a senior journalism major at UNC-Chapel Hill. He is a 2015 Dat Winning fellow.

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