LAS VEGAS — There was a time, a year or more before the last draft, when it was thought Harrison Barnes could be the top pick in this past draft. After a good but not great college season, and as teams fell in love with other guys, he fell all the way to Golden State at No. 7.
The Warriors may have a steal.
It’s one NBA Summer League game — which matters about as much what the Kardashians think about presidential politics — but Barnes looked impressive as the Warriors throttled the Lakers by 40. He came out aggressive from the opening gun, attacking the rim on his way to 23 points on 8-of-13 shooting. He was 4-of-4 from three, showed an impressive floater on one play, finished at the rim or at the arc in transition. He was the complete package.
“Coach (Mark) Jackson just told me to be aggressive and not to worry about making mistakes,” Barnes said. He didn’t make many.
Barnes had a real chemistry with Klay Thompson, it was Thompson who was dictating the offense (and knocking down 6-of-8 threes) and he was clearly looking for Barnes. Klay’s father Mychal — the former No. 1 overall pick out of Minnesota and current Lakers broadcaster — noticed it.
“(Barnes) plays a really smart game, and that makes it easier,” the elder Thompson said.
He also has a very smooth game, from his outside stroke to the way he puts the ball on the floor. He was far more polished than usually seen by a rookie.
After the game Barnes was talking about the next steps — about understanding the team defensive principles before training camp and adjusting to the more physical play at the NBA level. (“I don’t think I had a rebound today, that tells you how physical it was.” Close, he had two, both offensive.)
At the end of Day 1 in Las Vegas, Barnes was one of the two most impressive rookies (Michael Kidd-Gilchrist was the other). Again, the heads of Warriors fans are warning them that the list of Summer League rock stars who flamed out in the NBA is long and impressive.
But their hearts had to soar after watching one game. Because for a night Barnes looked that good.