Warriors focus: Harrison Barnes

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Warriors focus: Harrison Barnes

This is the first of seven individual player analysis, focusing on new Warriors' faces. The Warriors have made plenty of changes since the end of the 2011-12 season. They will likely have four first-year players on their roster come the start of the season, and they also acquired veterans Jarrett Jack and Carl Landry.Center Andrew Bogut came to the Warriors in March, but hes a newcomer, too, if you factor in that he still hasnt played a game for the team yet. With training camp set to begin in early October, lets begin our player-by-player analysis of the Warriors new players.Harrison Barnes, 6-foot-8, 210 pounds, small forward.It seems like all anyone wants to know right now is whether or not Barnes, selected with the No. 7 pick in June, will be the starting small forward come the season-opener. But that question seems awfully premature at this point.Nobody is saying Barnes wont be a nice NBA player down the line. But the league is littered with high draft picks that struggle to make an impact in the first year or two of their careers. In the last two years alone, several high draft picks are struggling to find their niche, including: Derrick Williams, Tristan Thompson, Bismack Biyombo, Wes Johnson, Al-Farouq Aminu, Jimmer Fredette, etc.Jonny Flynn was the No. 6 pick in 2009, and hes not even on a roster at this point. In other words, it can be a mistake to expect too much too soon from a rookie, and Barnes is no exception. Before you start thinking about Barnes as a starter, lets see him as a bona-fide NBA player and contributor first.If Barnes proves he can be that by the end of the season, chances are the starting will have probably taken care of itself.RELATED: Harrison Barnes 2012 Summer League stats
Barnes will be competing for minutes at the small forward position along with Brandon Rush and Richard Jefferson. Rush made it clear after he re-signed last month that he wants to start, and hes got as much reason to claim that spot as anyone else.Jeffersons best years are behind him, but hes still good enough and professional enough that he will be difficult to overlook. As far as playing in big games and havingplayoff experience, nobody on the Warriors can touch Jefferson. Barnes strengths seem to be his size, his athleticism and his ability to shoot the basketball in certain situations. Hes not the type of player who can consistently create his own shot and it remains to be seen whether hell become one but he does have the ability to elevate after one dribble and shoot over some defenders.Like all rookies, Barnes will struggle to defend, but theres no reason with his length and athleticism that he couldnt become an above average-wing defender over time.If theres an area where Barnes will likely struggle its in situations when hes asked to handle the ball and make quick decisions. Its not that Barnes is a bad ballhandler; hes not. Its just that hes not refined enough in that area to make plays for teammates at this point.In the open court, hes a finisher and not a facilitator.How much Barnes plays will probably be determined in large part by whether or not he can make shots consistently. Hes said to be a pretty good shooter, but his numbers in college werent that impressive: 43 percent from the field, 35 percent from 3-point range in 75 total games.Its possible his shot selection will get better in the pros because hell be focused on less by defenses particularly early in his career. Its no secret that everyone including the Warriors organization has Barnes penciled in as the teams long-term starter at small forward. When that will happen, however, is anyones guess.UP NEXT: Kent Bazemore

Green: Wins over Cavs, OKC and Rockets 'our best week of the season'

Green: Wins over Cavs, OKC and Rockets 'our best week of the season'

It may have helped that they had been at home for roughly three weeks.

It surely was to their benefit that the NBA schedule provided three days without a game before they confronted perhaps one of the most rigorous weeks of the season.

The Warriors, however, still had to do the work. They still had to finish.

They still had to beat the team that had roughed them up 22 days earlier, and then squelch another squad coming into Oracle Arena on a wave of emotion and, finally, take to the road and get back at a team that handed them a loss in Oakland.

Done, done and done. And in such a fashion that forward Draymond Green referred to it as “our best week of the season.”

In putting away the Rockets 125-108 on Friday in Houston, the Warriors closed out the traditional worker’s week with a 3-0 record against three teams they could see in the postseason. They’d already routed the defending champion Cavaliers 126-91 on Monday and struck down the Thunder 121-101 on Wednesday.

“It’s three good teams in a row,” Kevin Durant told reporters in Houston. “We definitely wanted to come out and make a nice statement, and I think we did that.

“We always can get better. We can’t relax against Orlando, Miami and Charlotte, teams that can creep up on you and have been playing well lately.”

The Magic, Heat and Hornets -- all dreadful to mediocre -- are the kinds of teams that force the Warriors to compete. They don’t stir the senses like the Cavs or the Thunder or the Rockets, three teams with credentials that demand attention from a Warriors team that sometimes cruises against lesser competition.

So this week was not just about winning games. These weren’t just wins, they were emphatic statements, profound evidence that the team remodeled last summer around the addition of Durant is coming together in the heart of the season.

The defense was tight, with Cleveland shooting 35.2 percent, OKC 42.2 percent and Houston 20.0 percent from beyond the arc, which is the only place that matters for the Rockets.

The Warriors resorted to one of their signature turbocharged third quarters to separate from the Rockets. Shooting 61.9 percent and scoring 9 points off Houston turnovers, the Warriors outscored Houston 37-22 in the third, stretching a five-point halftime lead to 20 going into the fourth quarter.

The Warriors now have an NBA-best differential of plus-250 points in the third quarter this season.

“It’s just something that we put an emphasis on,” Green said. “Coming out and getting off to a good start in the second half. Not coming out flat and giving another team life or letting them go on a run and then trying to make it up. And once we go on our run, we can get rolling pretty well and make it tough on other teams.”

That was the case this week, as the Warriors topped 50 percent from the field in all three victories.

Durant scored 32 points against Houston and averaged 31 points over the last three games. Stephen Curry put in 24 points and averaged 22.7 for the week. Green, meanwhile, averaged 12.7 points, 10.7 rebounds, 7.7 assists and 3.7 blocks.

“It was our best week of the season because we’ve gotten better each time we’ve stepped on the floor this week,” Green said. “And that’s what’s most important. It’s not about blasting these three teams. It’s about getting better, and trying to reach our end goal. In order to do that, you have to get better each and every time you step on the floor.

“We did that these three games, so that’s the most important thing. That’s why it’s been a good week, not because of the margin of the wins that we had.”

Instant Replay: Warriors ground Rockets, run win streak to six games

Instant Replay: Warriors ground Rockets, run win streak to six games

BOX SCORE

The Warriors avenged yet another loss Friday night, rolling into Houston and laying a 125-108 beating on the Rockets at Toyota Center.

All five Warriors starters scored in double figures, with Kevin Durant totaling 32 points to lead the way. Stephen Curry finished with 24 points, Klay Thompson with 16, Draymond Green with 15 and Zaza Pachulia added 10.

The Warriors (37-6) suffocated Houston’s high-powered offense, which is predicated on 3-point shooting, holding the Rockets to 20 percent (7-of-35) beyond the arc. The Warriors forced 15 turnovers, off which they scored 19 points.

Backup center Clint Capela scored 22 points to lead Houston (33-13). MVP candidate James Harden was held to 17 points on 6-of-13 shooting, including 0-of-5 from 3-point distance.

Having beaten the Cleveland Cavaliers on Monday, the Warriors this week evened the ledger against two elite teams. They lost to Houston on Dec. 1 in Oakland, 132-127, in double overtime that accounted for one of only three losses at Oracle Arena.

STANDOUT PERFORMER

The entire starting lineup played well, but Durant proved too much for anything the Rockets threw at him.

Durant’s line: 32 points (12-of-19 shooting from the field, including 2-of-7 from deep, 6-of-7 from the line), seven assists, four rebounds, two blocks and two steals. He played 34 minutes and was plus-25 for the game.

TURNING POINT

After Houston trimmed their lead to five (64-59) with 11:39 remaining in the third quarter, the Warriors responded with a 23-8 run, punctuated by a 28-foot 3-pointer by Curry to go up 87-67 with 5:58 left in the quarter.

The Warriors led by 20 entering the fourth quarter, and the Rockets got no closer than 15 over the final 12 minutes.

INJURY UPDATE

Warriors: C/F David West (L thumb fracture) was listed as out.

Rockets: F Ryan Anderson (flu) was listed as questionable but upgraded to available. He was in the starting lineup, but played only nine minutes before leaving for good.

WHAT’S NEXT

The Warriors return to action Sunday in Orlando, where they face the Magic at Amway Center. Tipoff is scheduled for noon Pacific.