Harrison Barnes put up career numbers in the Mavs loss to Houston on Friday and it had a lot to do with the focus on his mid-range game.
As the media filed into practice last week, we had two sights to see on the farthest of practice courts in the new practice facility downtown.
On one end, was the legendary Holger in his flannel shirt and blue jeans doing shooting drills with Dirk Nowitzki all by themselves. They naturally drew the majority of the media attention, but it was the other end of the court that I took notice too.
It was Harrison Barnes working feverishly with assistant coach God Shammgod on dribble moves at the top of the key that led into jump shots at the elbow. Barnes, sporting his new shooting sleeve on his left arm, was knocking down shot after shot from both elbow spots of the paint.
The practice paid off.
In Barnes’ home opener in Dallas on Friday night, he shot 13 for 23 from the field with a career high 31 points. With Dirk Nowitzki sitting out due to an illness, Barnes spent the majority of the night at the power forward spot.
From the opening tip, Barnes took advantage of Ryan Anderson guarding him as he tried to make a point to get the shots he wanted.
Barnes went 7 for 9 on shots (via StatMuse) around the elbow area of the paint…the same area he had been focusing on in practice throughout the week. That’s over 50% of his made shots coming from that area of the court.
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When I asked Barnes about focusing on those mid-range shots and Carlisle incorporating those into the offense, Barnes had this to say, “He’s been big about knocking down those mid-range shots. It’s kind of that in between game where you can get those. Just been working to knock those down consistently.”
Well, against Ryan Anderson, you can get those shots pretty consistently. Once Barnes goes back to being guarded by another wing at the three, getting those shots won’t be as easy, but will still be a focus. The mid-range game is almost a lost art in the NBA, but if Barnes could master this part of his game, it could really help him take the next step in his career.
Though the Mavericks are 0-2 to start the season, Barnes is averaging 25 points (team leader) and seven boards a game on 56% shooting.
The adjustment for Barnes will continue to take time, but for now, he is one of the only bright spots for the Mavs.