The Warriors have been anointed so resolutely, it’s almost easy to forget there was a time before Kevin Durant played for Golden State.
Remember that guy Harrison Barnes, who started at small forward for a championship and 73-win season?
It took coach Steve Kerr to go off script and interrupt the end of Durant’s introductory news conference, thanking the departed Warriors, for Barnes to be remembered.
“I guess I died,” Barnes said with a shoulder shrug, before breaking into a smile. He then explained why he was prepared for his departure.
“Dwight trade rumors. Kevin Love trade rumors. Kevin Durant … oh, that one happened. There’s been a few instances where you consider what might happen. I was just more so glad to be there as long as I was.”
There are segments who overrate and underrate Barnes — and not enough who properly appreciate his ability.
Too many still see Barnes as the prospective go-to player he was hyped as when Golden State drafted him No. 7 in 2012. They saw him stuck behind Stephen Curry, Klay Thompson and Draymond Green, unable to show his full potential. And while Barnes can probably do a little more, they’ll be disappointed if they’re counting on him to be the No. 1 option.
But too many others blame Barnes for not living up to his billing. Just because he’s not a high-end scorer doesn’t mean he failed. His ability to defend bigger opponents inside and improved 3-point shooting opened the Warriors’ death lineup.
Obviously, Golden State did well to upgrade from Barnes to Durant. But that’s far more Durant compliment than Barnes insult — or at least should be.