By: Jesse Taylor
There’s too many kids in this tub.
There’s too many elbows to scrub.
I just washed a behind
That I’m sure wasn’t mine,
There’s too many kids in this tub.
– Shel Silverstein: Crowded Tub
Harrison Barnes must have felt like one of those kids in Shel Siverstein’s Crowded Tub during his rookie season.
There’s too many scorers on this court.
Barnes’ rookie year has been a bit of an enigma. He started 81 games (missing one with a sore left knee) for the Warriors and has looked like, well, a lot of different things. Aggressive, hesitant, dominating, confused, awesome, awful, inescapable, hidden, intimidating, scared, superstar, role player.
Standing 6-foot-8 with a quick and lethal vertical leap, Barnes is to basketball bodies what the
Ferrari 250 GTO is to cars. The perfect specimen. Throw in an already solid jump shot and post-game with a machine-like work ethic and a character that makes him the ideal guy for a daughter to bring home to her dad, and you have a superstar in the making.
But something has been missing during his rookie season.
At first, I thought it was a combination of a lack of confidence and killer instinct. But he has both.
We’ve all seen it. That killer instinct comes through on his rim-rattling dunks and monster rebounds. But I’m not talking about the dunks or rebounds themselves.
I’m talking about the look on his face when he hits the ground following a dunk or corrals the ball in his arms after a soaring rebound.
The 1990s version Ice Cube scowl and the “Get off me punk!” look in his eyes.
He never shows anyone up, but that look in his eyes says everything. Locked up somewhere deep inside Harrison Barnes is a bad man.
Every once in a while this bad man pushes the respectful, polite, “don’t step on any toes” version of Harrison aside and reeks havoc like the Hulk.
But he’s been more Bruce Banner this season. Harrison takes everything into consideration. He’s a rookie on a team with Steph Curry, David Lee and Klay Thompson. There’s too many kids in this tub.
So Harrison took the approach of fitting in as a rookie and letting the main scorers get their shots. He had the talent from Day 1 to come in and try to go for his. But he’s respectful and wanted to assimilate with his teammates and not force the issue.
So when Game 1 of the NBA playoffs came around, Harrison yielded everything to his teammates. Curry and Lee have waited years to make the playoffs. Barnes played as though he wanted to let them shine. He took it easy. Too easy. By yielding to his teammates, he also relinquished his aggressiveness. He only took four shots, didn’t seem to attack offensively, defensively or on loose balls and grabbed just two rebounds.
Then David Lee tore his hip flexor and was done for the playoffs.
One less kid in the tub.
Ten less toes to step on. That’s a lot of toes, leaving a clear path for the bad man inside Barnes to rip his way out of Bruce Banner.
And that’s what he did versus the Nuggets in Game 2.
The potential future version of Harrison Barnes was on full display as he aggressively drove the lane, posted up defenders, hit threes, drilled step-back jumpers and used his length and athleticism to grab key rebounds and make defensive stops.
Oh, and he did this.
Without Lee for the remainder of the playoffs, Warriors fans are going to see if Barnes can play at this level consistently. He’s now the team’s third scoring option behind Curry and Klay.
That doesn’t mean it’s automatic that he plays like the third option. In the three regular season games Lee missed, Barnes averaged just five points on four shots per game.
The Warriors-Nuggets series is the most interesting playoff matchup in the NBA for a variety of reasons. One of those is now to see what becomes of Harrison Barnes.
Like Monta Ellis thinks of himself, Barnes actually does “have it all.” The size, athletic ability, basketball skills, work ethic, coachability, smarts, character, confidence and killer instinct.
Now it’s a matter of consistently putting them all together like he did in Game 2.
The Harrison Barnes door is wide open. I hope the bad man comes tearing through it.