Smoking Hot Takes: Harrison Barnes Will Lead Mavs in Scoring
I predict that the Dallas Mavericks will see their new star, Harrison Barnes, lead the team in scoring in the upcoming season despite that title traditionally belonging to Dirk.
Each year here at The Smoking Cuban, we like to discuss different scenarios for the team that may not be very likely, but are undoubtedly a possibility at the same time. Often times we call them bold predictions, but this year we wanted to go with the theme of our site a little bit.
The Dallas Mavericks do not really look like the strongest offensive team on paper. One of the best scorers in NBA history just turned 38 and the next best proven scorer on the team is now 32. That doesn’t mean they can’t still score the ball, but it certainly does not help in the long run.
Scorers from last year’s team like Chandler Parsons and Raymond Felton are now gone and the Mavs need to find a new identity because of it. Defense looks to be the thing that will benefit the most from the new roster moves, but I predict that we also found ourselves a new leading scorer.
Since the year 2000, only one player for the Mavericks organization has averaged more points per game than Dirk Nowitzki in a season. That player was Monta Ellis in the 2014-2015 season. Up to that point, Dirk had only been outscored by one of his teammates in his rookie and sophomore years in the league.
This year, I believe that we are going to see Harrison Barnes really come alive and take over one of the leading scoring roles for the team. What has traditionally been Dirk’s team and Dirk’s offense is all about to change with the new look squad and as we near the end of his career.
Barnes has proven that he is an athletic monster on the court in his short career. He moves well, is fast, can jump out the gym, and is capable of guarding even the top wings in the league. One of the things we have yet to see from him though is the ability to take over a game offensively.
This year is going to turn that perception around for Barnes because we are going to see what he is truly made of. The way I see it, there are two possible outcomes that will push Harrison Barnes in front of Dirk on the scoring list this year.
1.) Dirk’s minutes become more limited and Barnes reaps the benefits.
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Dirk is getting old and the Mavs want him to be able and available to finish his career strong. There’s no chance in the world that Barnes ever becomes even half the scorer that Dirk is but at 24 years old, fresh legs are going to trump the seasoned veteran.
The last time someone outscored Dirk, he was held down below 30 minutes per game. That would be ideal for the Mavs once again to save his legs for a potential postseason run and if we are able to make that happen, Barnes immediately becomes the top offensive option on the court in most cases.
So again, this isn’t necessarily saying that Barnes is going to overwhelm us on the offensive end by any means, but rather the lack of Dirk on the court is going to bring forth ample opportunity for him to make the move.
2.) Harrison Barnes finds his offensive game.
Barnes averaged under 12 points per game last season with the Golden State Warriors. A lot of people (myself included) saw this low average as a big red flag in his offensive game, not the least of which came during the NBA Finals.
But admittedly, I came to realize in time that Dallas opens up a whole new world for Barnes. There are still going to be moments where we cringe a little bit watching him try to attack the rim off the dribble or shoot off the dribble, but that does not mean he is incapable of scoring the ball.
With Stephen Curry, Klay Thompson, and Draymond Green on your team, you are bound to get overlooked a little bit when looking for a shot. That’s why Barnes took less than 10 attempts per game and why people tend to overlook the fact that he shot nearly 47% from the field.
With an increased role on the offensive end and teammates who will actively look to get him the ball, I think Barnes is ready and capable of making the Mavericks his team as soon as Dirk is set to retire. That process begins this year.
Next: Dallas Mavericks: This is Wes Matthews' Year
For more Smoking Hot Takes about the Dallas Mavericks and our bold predictions for the upcoming season, keep up with us here at The Smoking Cuban and follow us on Twitter. Let’s Go Mavs!