Despite his reputation as a lock down defender, he had trouble guarding without fouling. This had far more to do with why he didn't play more minutes than did Dunlap's rotations.Originally Posted by InProblematique
Barnes emerged as one of the most promising young players in the league on the biggest stage, the playoffs, but that simply gets dismissed because he got off to a slow start? He averaged 16 & 6 in the playoffs but MKG is better because Barnes is a chucker? I'm just not sure how you can defend that position. MKG peaked early and was average at best after January and people want to blame it on Dunlap and his rotations. Sounds like a lot of excuses to me. Not sure too many people outside this board would take MKG over Barnes at this point.
He averaged 10, 8, and 3 blocks at UConn. MKG averaged 12, 7, and 1 block. One guy was the fastest guy on his team despite being near 7 feet and 270 lbs but went through an underachieving season with a dysfunctional team while the other guy played a complementary role on the NCAA champions. AD slipped to 9 despite the adage "always go big over small (especially the freaky athletic bigs)" while MKG went 2nd and probably wouldn't have gone any lower than 4 despite being a wing with awful shooting mechanics.
The only way you can really explain the discrepancy is with intangibles. MKG is a go-hard, winner, hates to lose player that GMs and coaches love and AD is a laid-back, not-a-winner, quiet guy that GMs and coaches were scared of.
That said, he is a highly skilled offensive player, with one exception, a jump shot. He is still adjusting to the pace, speed, strength, and requisite stamina of the professional game, so he will at times look lost. But his ballhandling stood out to me. He is very natural with the ball, and can break down his man with the dribble, can drive left or right, or get separation for a pullup (although he needs to be able to hit it) something that many vets take several years to develop (see Gerald Henderson).
He also seems to have pretty good court vision and can find people around the lane when he's collapsed on. We just didn't have very good finishers for his assists to build up, but passing is also a very good skill he has natural instincts with, and will only build upon. With enough experience, I could see him playing a point forward role for spot minutes during games.
Also, he has an already nicely developed post game at this point, where he is good catching the ball on the block and backing his man down for a layup or jump hook, and he also is excellent at facing up off the pivot and attacking his man in either direction for the blow by. Again, its just more experience needed for him to develop consistency.
And this is before getting to his natural touch around the basket. I'd say when his gets into the lane, or anywhere within 10 feet, the ball seems to go in with high regularity. Unskilled offensive players throw up bricks and prayers, but he has elite touch around the basket, the ability to take contact and still finish.
So looking overall at his offense, he has every single skill you want in a a high level player with the exception (and yes, it is a huge exception) of a consistent jumper. But he did improve upon this, and is working hard on attacking the weakness, so the trend is going up up up.
1) He got the rookie treatment from the refs. 50/50 calls went against him most of the time. Vets like Tony Allen and Battier would get away with it, MKG has to go through the rookie process, as most of them don't get the benefit of the doubt from refs.
2) As a rookie, he's catching up to the speed and strength of the game. He has great defensive instincts, but he's not used to the pace, schemes, and strength of NBA players yet. If you give the rookie, any rookie, some time to adjust, he will be able to apply his instincts to NBA level defense.
Barnes emerged in the playoffs, as once teams realized Steph Curry was in NBA Jam mode, they had to send all their defenders to stop him, and when Klay Thompson started to go off, they went 'oh shit' and had to send someone his way. Barnes biggest games were when the Spurs put Tony Parker to guard him. As a 6'8 scorer, you better put up 25 points on a skinny 6'2 guard. So, I think Barnes can get there, but his playoff performances against a PG don't convince me he is an allstar yet. He has more to prove to me than MKG at this point.
They both may prove me wrong next year though, but I would never bet against MKG the way he goes about his business.
QC, thanks for the thoughtful and civil response. It's refreshing to see someone express a differing opinion without being a jack-ass.
But just to be clear, I never said MKG was unskilled (nor do I consider Barnes an all-star for that matter). I just don't consider MKG to be a "highly skilled" offensive player given that he is such a poor shooter. The ability to shoot from at least mid-range is such an essential skill for a wing player that I have a hard time overlooking that. A "highly skilled" offensive player at his position needs to be able to shoot, drive and finish effectively. Though the lack of a jump shot may be his one deficiency among the three, it is so significant that it impedes his ability to do some of the things he does do well (e.g. attack the basket). I'm not saying he can't/won't improve. I'm not saying he's garbage. I am saying that until he addresses that area of deficiency he will be rather limited, IMO, with regard to his overall offensive capabilities.