The year of the blowout is what we have for the 2016 NBA Playoffs. Last night’s game was no exception as the Cavaliers cruised past the Warriors 120-90.
So you’re probably wondering why the title says that Harrison Barnes won game 3. He didn’t actually win the game for the Warriors, but he was the real winner of last night’s game. Barnes has set himself up for long-term success thanks to his performance in game 3.
While the Splash Brothers sat the majority of the first half with foul trouble and an injury, Harrison Barnes took over as the star player on the team. Between the end of the first quarter and the start of the second, Barnes scored 11 of the 15 Warriors points. Curry,Thompson, even Green were nowhere to be found, so Barnes did what he could to try and keep the Warriors in the game. Despite the struggles of the superstars on the team, Barnes managed to put together a solid game of 18 points, 8 rebounds, and 3 assists on 64% shooting from the field. This wasn’t enough to keep the Warriors from getting blown out, but it was enough to brighten his immediate future.
Barnes is a restricted free agent this summer and could possibly be looking at a big salary increase. The idea of giving Barnes a max contract has been thrown around this year. The Lakers, Celtics, Suns, Pacers, and Sixers have all shown interest in Barnes, with Philadelphia being the team that could most easily give him a max contract. Some say he is not deserving of a max contract, but his performance last night will certainly help his case at saying otherwise. He put together a display that GMs can turn to and say, “He does have star potential. He could be the face of this franchise.” Max contract players should be franchise-caliber players. They should be able to be THE guy for a team. Can Harrison Barnes be that? Based on last night’s performance, it certainly would not be crazy to think so.
Barnes has expressed interest in staying with the Golden State Warriors; however, he understands that there are other factors involved with free agency that are outside his control. He is aware that the Warriors are interested in Kevin Durant and that if they were able to sign Durant, they would be unable to pay him, too. Since he will be a restricted free agent, the Warriors can match any offer presented to Barnes. He is only 24 years old and is just now finishing his rookie deal. Despite this, he is viewed as a veteran player and has been an important piece to the Warriors historical success over the past two seasons. Between the skills, the experience, and the performance he displayed in game 3, a max contract is not out of the question for Harrison Barnes. He is a young and talented veteran, and that is a valuable type of player for franchises that are trying to build toward a championship. The youth will allow them to have a key piece to build around. The experience means they will not have to wait for him to grow or worry about him succumbing to the pressure.
So while it is not guaranteed that he is going anywhere new this summer, and it is not guaranteed he will have to be THE guy for a team, GMs, fans, and analysts alike can be more confident that Barnes can live up to a max contract deal. That is why Harrison Barnes is the winner of game 3.