Warrior of the Week: Harrison Barnes aka the Black Falcon
Barnes made significant contributions to two wins this week, but the reason he takes the inaugural award is this dunk over Nikola Pekovic in Saturday night’s win over the Minnesota Timberwolves. If you don’t know, Pekovic (Pek for short) has a reputation for being one of the tougher guys in the league. That Barnes’ dunk was not only over him, but essentially through him as well, makes it a possible dunk-of-the-year candidate. It incited what is easily the loudest reaction from GSW fans this season, after a dull (and very quiet) 1st and 2nd quarter.
Another thing that stood out this week is Barnes continued improvement on the boards. Twice this week he recorded double digit rebounds while notching his 2nd and 3rd double-doubles. With 12 at Dallas Monday night and another 11 against Minnesota on Saturday, Barnes notched 30 rebounds over the teams 4 games last week, good for 2nd on the team behind David Lee. The Warriors have ranked dead last in defensive rebounding percentage for 5 consecutive seasons, dating back to their We Believe Playoff appearance, when they ranked 2nd to last. Safe to say, their rebounding has been terrible for a long time. This year, with a better commitment to the boards, the Warriors have ranked 3rd in defensive rebounding rate, by far the biggest difference for the team this season. Barnes is a big part of that. But Barnes game at the basket is not the only one that’s growing. Barnes also hit a career high 4 3-point shots (on 6 attempts) at Dallas, and hit 5/11 for the week, pushing his season percentage to 35.5 on 31 attempts. On a team that was expected to shoot the three well, somehow that number ranks 2nd, behind just Stephen Curry. The loss of Brandon Rush and Richard Jefferson (both good 3-point shooters) have necessitated Barnes’ increased 3-point shooting, as has Klay Thompson’s early struggles. With Klay seeming to get back on track the last couple games, it’ll be interesting to see how well and how often Barnes continues to shot from long-range. If he can incorporate that into his post and driving game, his offense will continue to see improvements.