Harrison Barnes is a max player. That was going to happen this summer as a function of the market and timing.
Is Barnes ready to be a top two scoring option on a quality team? That is up for debate.
Plenty of front office people around the league are not convinced. Barnes flourished in a system where he was the fourth option and Stephen Curry‘s gravity drew defenders well away from him. What happens when he is the focal point of a defense’s attention? What happens when he has the ball in his hands, the pick is set for him, and he has to create shots for himself and others? He hasn’t thrived in that role up to now.
We will find out this season, but Mark Cuban is understandably optimistic. Here is what he told Tim MacMahon of ESPN.
“You’re going to see a lot more to his game than you’ve seen in the past,” Mavs owner Mark Cuban said. “I think he can do a lot more than he’s been asked to do, and that’s what we expect to see. … Maybe not first year, but I think he’s going to grow into [the role of go-to guy]. Just because a guy hasn’t done things doesn’t mean he can’t do it.”
Cuban makes a good point here — Barnes is still young and growing, and he needs to be given time to grow into this new role. Barnes may struggle with his added responsibilities this November and December, but where is he in April? Next December? Can he grow into this role?
Cuban needs to be optimistic he can because he bet big on it happening. I’m far from convinced, but Barnes is going to get the chance, and no coach will put him in better positions than Rick Carlisle.