While the Dallas Mavericks had gotten off to an 0-5 start, new Maverick Harrison Barnes had surprisingly played quite well after coming over from the Golden State Warriors on a max contract. On Sunday night, Barnes playing well finally resulted in a Mavericks victory, and it just so happened to be a career night for the young forward.
Barnes poured in a career-high 34 points (previous high was 31 on Oct. 28) on 13-of-26 shooting in an 86-75 overtime victory over the Milwaukee Bucks in Dallas. He shot 2-of-5 from three-point range and 6-of-7 from the free throw line, and he added eight boards, two assists and two steals to his 48-minute tab. He was a +14 in those 48 minutes, and his driving layup in the final minute helped get the game to overtime.
Barnes received a ton of flak last season as a weak link in the Warriors’ starting lineup, and his disastrous performance in the NBA Finals was the cherry on top. Golden State upgraded his position in a big way by signing Kevin Durant, leading to the Mavericks giving him a max contract that many thought was foolish.
But Barnes has acquitted himself nicely through these first six games, and he’s now averaging 20.8 points and 6.5 rebounds on the season. He’s shooting an even 49.0 percent from the field despite only knocking down 34.8 percent of his three-pointers.
There’s reason to expect some regression overall, though, even if Barnes’ three-point shooting sees some improvement. He’s shooting well above league average in all three basic two-point zones, and that’s where most of his shots are coming from:
He’s also shooting 52.0 percent on pull-ups, per tracking data at NBA.com, and that’s not a sustainable mark.
However, Barnes deserves a ton of credit for this strong start, especially after a dreadful preseason that had the critics out in full force. Even with some regression likely coming, this is shaping up to be a nice season for the 24-year-old.