Is Harrison Barnes good???








All Barnes Myself: On the Bench

Venezuela 69 – 113 Team USA

Harrison Barnes: 4p / 2r / 1a

The Venezuelans did a great job of controlling the flow and pace of a tightly-called half-court game, until they finally didn’t, committing back-to-back shot clock violations and eventually (gasp!) even letting the Americans leak out in transition unfouled.

So progress was slow. Team USA was tied after the first. They were up 22 at half. And with 1:04 to go in the game, up 44, Tom Thibodeau was still caught shaking his head in disgust as the Americans inexplicably allowed a difficult fadeaway three by Venezuela to pass through the gaping orifice of the rim, just one more element of a strainingly limitable but fundamentally irrepressible flow of exchange. Does anyone else think Thibs might have a classic psychosexual anal fixation?

Anyway, how did Harrison Barnes do?

Lowlight: [VNZ 42-63] Echenique 2nd Free Throw: Made (14 PTS) Q3-4:00

“I will go before thee” -Isaiah 45:2

As always, there were great nominees for this low-light. Was it Barnes missing a dunk? No.

How about shoddy no-man’s-land defense against the pick-and-roll? Nah.

What about missing a pushoff fadeaway, and then missing another putback dunk (to be fair, he got to the line this time)? Meh. These don’t yet approach the nadir of being Barnes for a day.

Obviously with a score so tight, Barnes didn’t check in during the first half. But as the Americans began to carve out their advantage, the all-time great broadcasting duo of Marv Albert and Doug Collins got a bit excited. Marv “Hooker” Albert began discussing alleged milkshake bets over on whether Team USA would win by fifty points, and it was clear that he had taken the under. Now here’s Doug Collins weighing in during a Venezuela free throw:

“Yeah, the one thing with Venezuela…how much energy are they gonna have in the fourth quarter, because the United States comes at you, you know, with so many different players. Uh, Harrison Barnes has not played tonight. The rest of the guys have all gotten into the game.”

Cue the instant cut to Barnes, which is now my desktop. Fucking devastating.

Highlight: [USA 101-61] Butler Layup: Made (16 PTS) Assist: Barnes (1 AST) Q4-3:53

“[L]ead me to the rock” -Psalm 61:2

The United States les by 31 points with 6:47 remaining in the game, and Coach K’s mental math finally indicated that Harrison was unlikely to lose by 5 points/minute. And he was right! In fact, Harrison earned four free throws during that stretch, and knocked all of them down.

But the apogee of being Harrison Barnes for a day was a beautiful, two-handed outlet pass to a streaking Jimmy Butler, who finished hard in transition. It was such a fluid motion, from rebound to toss to the hands of Jimmy, that I couldn’t help but think of Kevin Love.

It’s a good thing Harrison Barnes will be surrounded by other lanky, rim-running athletes in Dallas this year, and that’s why the Mavericks will pay him $951,075 more than K-Love in 2016-17 for his services.

I did like the pass though.

Harry looks to squash Serbia today at 5 pm central.

All Barnes Myself in Garbage Time

China 62 – 119 Team USA

Harrison Barnes: 8p / 4r / 1a

Despite a narrow failure to double up Team China’s score, the Americanos got off to a strong start in Olympic pool play. Kevin Durant had a signature stretch of slightly too-easy back-to-back-to-back threes in the second quarter, ominously portending the foreseeable future of NBA life.

Harrison was able to rebound from a slow start to post Olympic highs in assists, rebounds, and points. He threw another post entry, this time to Paul George for a tough turnaround. He grabbed uncontested rebounds and pushed the tempo in transition. And he missed an open three in the closing seconds of the game.

But really, how did Harrison Barnes do?

Lowlight: [CHN] Team Offensive Rebound Q2-2:27

“But he that heareth, and doeth not, is like a man that without a foundation built an house upon the earth; against which the stream did beat vehemently, and immediately it fell; and the ruin of that house was great.” -Luke 6:49

FIBA insists that Harrison Barnes entered the game a full minute before this play, but honest to God, I watched this stretch three times and could swear he hadn’t checked in until he was lining up for Team China’s free throws. This play’s a bit of bad luck, really — it’s Harrison’s fault, but not all his fault. Still, he should have been more prepared.

Team USA lined up just three players along the key, with Harrison lingering at the three point line. Li Muhao missed his second free throw diagonally across from Kevin Durant, who was assigned to box him out. Harrison began inching towards the paint, but not quickly enough to prevent Zhai Xiaochuan from violently batting the ball off his leg and out of bounds.

We’ve discussed how Harrison Barnes’ hands rarely look active off-ball, and how he tends to glide around a bit aimlessly, never physically holding his position at either end of the court. It’s frustrating to watch such a long, hesitant athlete putter about in stop-motion.

Highlight: [USA 109-61] Barnes Cutting Dunk Shot: Made (4 PTS) Assist: Draymond Green (3 ASTS) Q4-4:06

“Give, and it shall be given unto you” -The Team USA Coaching Staff staring in respectful silence. (Also Luke 6:38)

Now here’s a man moving with grace and purpose:

Moments after not totally committing on help defense and giving up an and-0 layup, Barnes surveyed the floor, dribbled hard, crossed over, stepped back, and got Yi Jianlian off his feet. If we froze that instant, we might expect a player like Barnes to turn away and shield the ball as the play died down. Maybe he’d eventually pass it back out for a long Paul George three with four seconds left.

But that’s not what happened.

Instead, Barnes threw the ball to Draymond Green and ran into the middle of the paint before Yi Jianlian even hit the ground. Green passed right back, and Barnes got an easy flush, using two hands for safety.

If you’ve ever looked at a Harrison Barnes heat map, it’s all corner threes and shots at the rim. Hold on:

Okay, now you’ve seen it.

So if Barnes is looking to expand his role next year, he’s got to become decisive moving without the ball like this. He’s a good athlete and set shooter, so his ceiling as a cutter is, uh, through-the-roof.

Let’s hope for more of this from Harry-B.

Harry looks to vanquish Venezuela today at 5 pm central.

All Barnes Myself: A man in transition

Nigeria 66 – 110 Team USA

Harrison Barnes: 8p / 2r / 0a

Four years ago to the day, I was on layover in Heathrow Airport. The Olympics were in full swing just a few miles away, but my personal bankruptcy was even nearer. I’ll never forget watching golden morning light stream over the television replay as Team USA virtually reenacted its positive trouncing of Nigeria. Carmelo Anthony scored 37 points in 14 minutes. The Redeem Team shot over 70% from the field, and over 60% from three. I still rewatch from time to time to recall that rush of invincibility.

And as Londoners gathered round to ask why the fuck I was still watching a game between two teams separated by forty, fifty, sixty points, I could only smile. Surely this congenial passivity explained the sun’s setting on the once-dominant British Empire. Surely this pusillanimous country would deserve #Brexit2016, just a few bewildering years away. Surely this commemorative U.S. team couldn’t outperform the Dream Team, but it did, obliterating the all-time Olympics record for points scored, and 2n+10ing a modern opponent 156-73 in the process.

I’ll always cherish watching the Redeem Team smash Africa’s powerhouse squad en route to winning the gold. But, will I remember how did Harrison Barnes did four years later?

Highlight: [USA 9-2] Barnes 3pt Shot: Made (3 PTS) Assist: Lowry (1 AST) 07:57
[USA 78-41] Barnes 3pt Shot: Made (6 PTS) Assist: Anthony (1 AST) 2:03

“I made haste, and delayed not to keep thy commandments” -Psalm 119:60

With Kyrie out resting a minor thigh injury, Barnes — who up until now had never played in a first quarter — suddenly earned his first start. And on the opening play, he left his man wide open in the corner off the threat of a cut, realized his mistake as the pass zipped by, spun around like a shadow with his arms unfurled behind him, and then closed out so hard he narrowly avoided fouling the shooter, who, to be fair, did miss badly. Just like that, our hero was off to another roller-coaster start!

We’ve talked before about Harrison’s tendency to rush moves, but I suppose there is a time and place for everything. For instance, it almost works in transition. On both of these threes, Harrison caught the ball and immediately started shooting without the slightest trace of hesitation. He was open, but not overwhelmingly so. And both times, he buried the shot.

Barnes often seems to shoot in the half-court out of some sort of reluctant moral compulsion, or an egoic burst of self-awareness. Even, or especially when he is wide open, Harrison’s shot grows stiff: he looks intent on getting rid of the ball as quickly as possible. The fast break, however, opens the possibility of a suddenly vulnerable choice. Shooting even an open three in transition is never truly mandated by conventional basketball wisdom, with its (Michael Jordanesque) Bull-headed emphasis on finishing strong inside, or at least drawing free throws, on each and every fast break. As such, every three pointer attempted in transition is a radical departure, a moment set aside to freely indulge the Self’s own Will without subjection to the hypercritical lens of Idea. Curry and Thompson led the league in transition threes last year, but the “Black Falcon” is coming.

Conclusion: When cleaved from the preconceptions of his exogenous shooting conscience by the momentary acknowledgement of his own radical freedom to make and unmake himself, Harrison Barnes’ talent really shines through. (But only when he lets his basketball existence precede his basketball essence.)

Lowlight: [NGR] Umeh 3pt Shot: Missed 01:26
[USA] Barnes Rebound (Off:0 Def:1) 01:25
[USA] Barnes Driving Reverse Layup Shot: Missed 01:17

“Through desire a man, having separated himself, seeketh and intermeddleth with all wisdom.” -Proverbs 18:1

Stop me if you’ve heard this before: Barnes stumbles blindly into a simple screen-and-roll. His man, Michael Umeh, dribbles left and would have found himself wide-open; but he forgot about Dray, who has spent so long playing alongside Barnes, he’s already running out hard. Umeh airballs several feet to the right, and Barnes scoops up the uncontested rebound. He takes off down the court. The ball is in his hands! He is the Master of his Fate, the Captain of his Soul!! And every dribble is a chance to consider that weighty fact, hanging like an anchor about his neck.

When Barnes has to create for himself, he starts thinking, and when he starts thinking, he becomes painfully predictable. Without even watching the play, you might guess he’ll try to go left.

He’s a man down on the break, so he posts up just inside the three-point line, waiting for something to happen. It doesn’t. He tries to spin off to his left and drive hard to the rim, and the broadcast camera dramatically shifts to an under-the-basket angle for the incoming dunk. Barnes swoops into frame. Finally, he smacks a reverse layup hard off the glass. It never touches the rim, and Team USA earns a team rebound when Nigeria fails to rein in its violent trajectory.

(To be fair, I think this might have been an uncredited block.)

I come away genuinely worried that Harrison Barnes cannot be trusted to make decisions, nor to be placed in positions where decisions are pre-fabricated for him (e.g. open corner threes.) Right now, he looks at his best when decisions as such are never made at all, when he catches the ball in the chaos of the open-court and responds with the unflinching celerity of unfiltered Will triumphing over Idea.

From Schopenhauer’s opus, The Basketball World as Will and Idea, this formulation precisely opposes the true test of basketball genius (roughly, the apprehension of Idea via Will-less knowledge/unfettered Platonic conceptual acquaintance).

Conclusion: Old Boy Arthur would be committed to calling Harry B a goddamn chode.

So the next time no one tries to tell you that Harrison Barnes deserves his max contract, be sure to tell him or her: “Shut up, weirdo. That intentionally confusing guy on said something that probably disagreed.”

You’ll be right.

As Olympic pool play officially begins, Harrison Barnes looks to conquer Team China this Friday at 5 pm central.

All Barnes Myself: What a pass

Venezuela 45 – 80 Team USA

Harrison Barnes: 4p / 0r / 1a

A disappointing game for the United States, who slowly outscored Venezuela without producing a single highlight through the first thirty-eight minutes, and then celebrated two open dunks. For eight long hours, I was lulled to sleep by a bizarro zombie Warriors team kicking the ball out over and over for long misses. This eternity was punctuated by DeAndre Jordan occasionally dunking with both hands, and DeMarcus Cousins committing his five hundredth travel.

I also suffered through a decade-long, detectably fascioid interview that linked parading the bestest basketball team and the very bestestest military as a single, unified point of national self-worth. Death is too kind an escape from certain kinds of lives, including the kind I endured while watching this game. Oh, the things I do for you.

Speaking of wanting to die, how did Harrison Barnes do?

Lowlight: [USA 29-18] Barnes Free Throw 1 of 2 (1 PT) 02:21
[USA 30-18] Barnes Free Throw 2 of 2 (2 PTS) 02:21

“[He] hath his way in the whirlwind and in the storm, and the clouds are the dust of his feet.” -Nahum 1:3

Venezuela is one tough, crafty team in the half-court. They grind hard on both ends, a Memphis Grizzlies clone in desperate miniature. And dammit, they kept Team USA from ever really getting things going. By any definition, continuing to launch threes until you finish 4-of-25 as a country embodies insanity, and despite a 25-rebound advantage, the Team USA couldn’t seem to buy a clean finish inside either.

It’s against this frustrating backdrop that Carmelo drew an extra confused defender in transition. Barnes cut towards the basket, but seemingly without realizing it: he only looked back for a pass at the final possible moment. By then he was directly under the basket, while somehow facing away from it.

He panicked a bit, spun back towards the defense like some desperate whirling dervish, and glanced the ball off the bottom of the rim. The referee reacted with dull compassion, and you’ll be pleased to know that Harrison made both his free throws.

Without the ball, Barnes always seems to have his hands down, unprepared for a pass. And with the ball, he always appears rushed, further muddling his footwork. So in the fourth quarter, I wasn’t surprised when he drove left and finished awkwardly off the wrong foot. And it made sense for him to airball an open pull-up jumper: he’s still learning to create for himself.

But to fuck up an assisted layup like that was really discouraging.

Highlight: [USA 71-41] Green Layup Shot: Made (3 PTS) Assist: Barnes (1 AST) 03:24

“Give us help from trouble: for vain is the help of man.” -Psalm 60:11

Coming into this game, Barnes had not thrown an assist in 45:37 of exhibition play, despite unquestionably being the worst player on a team otherwise packed with All-Stars. For Harrison to vaguely merit his max contract, he’ll have to do a bit of creating for the Mavericks, and tonight, there were promising glimpses. He sent a lob pass five feet over DeMarcus Cousin’s head in transition. He threw an outlet pass directly to Venezuelan guard Gregory Vargas. But he couldn’t quite break through and record his first assist as an Olympian.

And then, it happened.

Barnes threw a perfect entry pass to Draymond Green, who was posting up just inside the three-point line. Draymond dribbled, dribbled, dribbled again, and spun. Five seconds and twenty feet later, he laid the ball in with his left hand.

Assist: Harrison Barnes. The crowd went wild!

Harrison’s pass was so good, the scorekeeper was still thinking about it after Draymond’s extended passage through all that time and space. If he can throw perfect entry passes like that consistently, and then stay the hell out of the way for the next five to ten seconds until Nowitzki scores, Barnes might average a double-double after all.

Can you say All-Star?

Harrison Barnes looks to eviscerate Team Nigeria this Monday at 7 pm central.

All Barnes Myself: WARRIORS

China 57 – 107 Team USA

Harrison Barnes: 7p / 3r / 0a

Tonight at Oracle Arena, the Golden State Warriors led Team China from wire to wire. Kevin Durant opened with Team USA’s first ten points, including an effortless three off the opening tip, and an overexuberant Warriors crowd ate up every minute of it, only dimly aware their three heroes were 6-of-17 from three, and never quite seeming to notice that it was DeMarcus Cousins and Carmelo Anthony who finally blew the game open.

But how did Harrison Barnes do?

Lowlight: [USA] Barnes Jump Shot: Missed 09:23
[USA] Barnes Jump Shot: Missed 08:54

“There shall not be left here one stone upon another, that shall not be thrown down.” -Matthew 24:2

In response to an increasingly sloppy first half by the Warriors, Barnes finally got to open up the second quarter. And boy was he quick to disappoint, immediately jab-stepping left, driving right, and overshooting a stumbling, running hook by a thousand yards. The play-by-play scorekeeper noted it as a “missed jump shot” out of some misguided combination of ethical care, wounded patriotism, and theory-laden confusion, producing a harsh jumble of words so conceptually pre-situated, one could feel it straining to resurrect the Sapir-Whorf hypothesis. And I hope neither of you enjoyed that strained “joke.”

The very next play, Harrison rushed a wide-open corner three that caromed in and out. He yelped in frustration, but his nosediving play thus far had screamed for a swift benching like a Stuka bomber. How would I ever continue growing my popular new blog feature without a single Harrison Barnes highlight??????????

All the while, the commentators would not stop marveling over how many Warriors jerseys Kevin Durant would sell (seven thousand so far!), and how many Warriors games he might win (seven million!!)

By the time the broadcasting crew acknowledged that Barnes had checked in, he had already missed two shots so convincingly, using 100% of Team USA’s offensive usage, that he looked like Homer Simpson standing knee-deep in the waste of an imploding nuclear reactor, twin marionette arms hanging lazily by his sides.

Highlight: [USA 33-17] Barnes Cutting Dunk Shot: Made (2 PTS) Assist: Durant (1 AST) 06:57

“But he that shall endure unto the end, the same shall be saved.” -Matthew 24:13

Following Barnes’ slow start, both teams looked increasingly rushed and sloppy. In particular, the score seemed to hang heavy on American shoulders, crushed by the unmovable weight of Warrior fans’ expectations. For an eternity they led 31-17, as dawn turned to dusk, as civilizations rose and fell from the grave in turn, as the announcers dimly tried to explain that the United States had too many ball-handlers to even make a play.

When Cousins and Durant checked back in on a dead-ball, I couldn’t believe Barnes was allowed to stay. And as two superpowers continued to exchange turnovers, fouls, and international debts, a single voice from the upper bowl spilled into a thousand throats, willing together to make America Great Again.



So this is how democracy dies. As I adjusted my television set, the ball swung from Kyrie, to the popping Durant, to the cutting Barnes, who floated slowly upwards for a completely open dunk.

The crowd erupted into applause — and the cries for Golden State, those manic shouts from the halls of death, were immediately snuffed out. In an instant, I felt some misplaced emotion. Was it paternal pride? Patriotic identification?? Sheer relief that I could guiltlessly visit with old friends??? What a dizzying moment. I was almost happy to be an American, and to have watched Harrison Barnes.

And that’s when I finally knew everything was going to be alright.

Harrison Barnes looks to dismantle Team Venezuela this Friday at 8 pm central.

All Barnes Myself: David and Goliath

China 57 – 106 Team USA

Harrison Barnes: 6p / 1r / 0a

In tonight’s blowout, DeMar DeRozan only solidified his need for even more minutes ahead of Harrison. And in tonight’s broadcast, Marv Albert only solidified his need to retire forever. We could discuss the frozen vertical image of Barnes’ dunk, or his three-point miss pinballing endlessly over the top of the backboard. We could wonder how he still isn’t in the official Team USA box scores, and draw up bets on whether anyone over the next hundred years will ever notice. But certain patterns of play have recurred two games in a row, so I’d like to sum up Harrison Barnes for you in twenty seconds of play:

Lowlight: [CHN 36-60] Peng Jump Shot: Made (2 PTS) Assist: Jiwei (1 AST) 06:17

“And the Philistine said to David, Come to me, and I will give thy flesh unto the fowls of the air, and to the beasts of the field.” -1 Samuel 17:44

Zhou Qi is 7’2, but weighs just 218 pounds. Scouts worry his listed age is questionable, and insist that he lacks strength, quickness, and mental toughness, so obviously the Rockets drafted him with the 43rd pick this year. Amazingly, Harrison is already seven pounds heavier, with a center of gravity half a foot lower to the ground. So who’s hunting who? Well on this play, Barnes makes Qi look like the goddamned leviathan.

To be sure, it’s not all Harrison’s fault. As team captain Peng sprints to his left,  Qi feloniously slides about five feet into Barnes, burying him with a screen. Barnes crumples like a crash test dummy failing a rollover test, but the ref chooses to forever hold his peace. Meanwhile, DeAndre Jordan takes three useless steps towards Barnes’ corpse, effectively abandoning the play as Peng curls around for the open look. Draymond turns to uselessly recognize the shooter from beneath the basket; three days later, Barnes rises from the dead to fly by his open shot.

Baudrillard would have a field day. Here, the whole of the team defensive concept is constructed from the effortless swapping of disjointed projections of effort itself. This is the end of use- and exchange-value. There remains only the economy of signs, the empty back-and-forth of mere reproduction. The end of the era of defensive production is at hand, and it’s mostly DeAndre’s fault for valuing the hollow statistic of his three blocked shots. Which were admittedly pretty bad-ass.

But mostly, I just wish Barnes wouldn’t explode on every fucking screen. It’s gonna be a long year.

Highlight: [USA 62-36] Barnes Driving Layup Shot: Made (2 PTS) Assist: Lowry (4 ASTS) 05:49

“And it came to pass, when the Philistine arose, and came, and drew nigh to meet David, that David hastened, and ran toward the army to meet the Philistine” -1 Samuel 17:48

Under Mark Jackson, Klay Thompson struggled to create for himself, appearing one-dimensional. In 2013, he was projected to be just the 83rd best NBA player in 2017, and the criticisms are worth noting. But then Steve Kerr established a gliding motion offense designed to maximize the strengths of his two prized shooters, and Klay has grown into the league’s most proficient cutter. He even looks dangerous driving for himself when he catches the ball with a running start. Encouragingly, Barnes pulls off a very similar move here to challenge Qi at the rim.

Off Lowry’s kick-out, Barnes doesn’t even pause to survey his 3-on-2 advantage. Instead, he immediately swerves towards the bucket, though he picks up his dribble a step too early. He’s funneled left: disaster is imminent. But then, he smoothly bumps Qi, twisting and tumbling a wrong-footed layup softly up and in. Clearly his handle and footwork are lacking, and his decision-making is still a work in progress. But Barnes made an almost identical move at the end of the Argentina game, hinting that maybe he really can make off-the-dribble plays in an offense designed to give him quick-hitting opportunities.

Is there hope for Barnes yet? Can you really build the Six Million Dollar Man?? Stay tuned for the next hundred episodes as we painstakingly find out. Just kidding, you don’t have to read this shit forever.

But don’t forget to watch Harrison Barnes bludgeon China again this Tuesday at 9 pm central. I really will keep writing. Because who needs use-value anyway?