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NBA AM: Barnes Unaffected by Iguodala Trade
Posted By Joel Brigham On July 15, 2013 @ 9:00 am In Main Page,NBA | No Comments
Golden State’s Enviable Small Forward Problem
It’s a rare situation in which a rookie is as good as Harrison Barnes was in Oakland last year, only for the team to go out and find themselves an even better player in free agency that just so happens to play the exact same position.
Yet that’s what happened this summer when the Golden State Warriors essentially turned two throwaway expiring contracts into Andre Iguodala, an All-Star-caliber small forward that will almost certainly knock Barnes to a reserve role next year as the Warriors look to build on 2013’s postseason success.
Warriors head coach Mark Jackson, who is currently in Las Vegas watching his Summer League team compete, doesn’t seem particularly worried about this impending logjam at the three.
“We’ve got great versatility,” Jackson when asked how he viewed his newly-acquired depth at that position. “Harrison’s a guy who the future is extremely bright for him, and we’re expecting big things from him.”
Barnes, who is also in Vegas as a mentor to Golden State’s Summer League players, also shrugged off the possibility of him coming off the bench next season.
“I wouldn’t mind,” he said, with an authentic smile on his face. “It’s all about winning and losing. It’s not about how many minutes you play. Dividing 35 minutes between two players isn’t that hard.”
Barnes, who played over 38 mpg in the postseason, would have been relied upon heavily to play the lion’s share of the minutes at small forward next season with only Kent Bazemore behind him on the depth chart. The acquisition of Iguodala keeps both him and Barnes from morphing into some Western Conference version of Luol Deng, a fellow small forward who has led the league in minutes the last two years.
Not that Barnes or Iguodala necessarily would have played that much, but Barnes is right in that there are plenty of minutes to go around
“That’s out of my control,” he said. “I just try to go in there and play the best basketball I can.”
According to Jackson, Barnes is no jeopardy of dropping precipitously out of the rotation, and in fact Golden State’s head coach really loves that the second-year forward has been hanging around the Summer League team to instill himself as a leader and get some extra work in with the coaching staff and some of his teammates.
“My young guys have been leaders since day one,” Jackson said, referring to Barnes specifically but his other young teammates in general. “It’s good to see him here, and he’s been in the gym competing and practicing the whole time. You don’t have to trick my guys to get into the gym. They want to be in the gym.”
Now, the next step is getting the Warriors deeper into the postseason, as there are plenty of pundits already projecting them as legitimate threats in the Western Conference next year.
“Build on [last year’s success],” Jackson said. “Don’t fall in love with what the paper says. The paper says a lot of teams are good.”
Barnes, for his part, is ready to do precisely that.
“It was the most fun I’ve ever had, just being a part of that group making that run,” he said. “I want to improve upon that next year.”
The addition of Iguodala will certainly help that, but Harrison Barnes a year older and wiser certainly isn’t going to hurt anything, either.
Erik Murphy Gets a Taste of Chicago’s Love for Defense
Here’s what we know about the Chicago Bulls: for three straight years, they have been one of the top two or three defensive teams in the NBA, thanks in large part to head coach Tom Thibodeau, but without Derrick Rose last year they also finished 29th in the league in points scored.
Knowing that, it didn’t come as too big a surprise to see Chicago select two scorers in the 2013 NBA Draft, but while first-round selection Tony Snell was the guy to steal most of the day-after headlines in Chicago, second-round selection Erik Murphy has a great opportunity to make the team, as well, and he’s using Summer League to prove that deserves a shot as a full-time Bull.
“Continuing to get better on defense and rebounding the ball are some things I’m definitely trying to do,” Murphy said after his first Summer League game in Vegas. He then added that Chicago’s challenging defensive schemes have been a big part of the learning process early in his NBA career.
“It’s been going well. [The Bulls coaches] do a lot of things (defensively), and they’re really detailed. With the young guys, me and Tony especially, we’re learning the ins and outs, and we’re picking it up pretty quick.”
He’s going to have to do that if he wants to make the roster, and there are some that believe Chicago will only keep either Murphy or Summer League teammate Malcolm Thomas, who dominated Summer League last year and eventually made the Bulls roster at the end of the regular season and stuck around for the playoffs.
To outplay Thomas, a more traditional post player, Murphy will have to show that his ability to shoot the ball is valuable enough to keep him on the roster. But he also has to learn the defensive schemes and get better at rebounding the ball to have a real shot.
Murphy says he wants to “just come in every day and continue to get better, learn the system, play as hard as I can, play within the team, and shoot the ball,” which is the only realistic goal he can have for himself and Chicago can have for him.
The Bulls selected Murphy and Snell to help them get out of the league in basement in scoring, and while Derrick Rose returning should help in that category tremendously, getting extra outside shooting would certainly be welcomed by Thibodeau and the rest of his coaching staff.
That’s what Murphy’s for, and he’s got another week in Nevada to prove he can do it at the next level.
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