Dec 12, 2012; Miami FL, USA; Golden State Warriors small forward Harrison Barnes (40) drives to the basket as Miami Heat power forward Udonis Haslem (40) defends during the first half at American Airlines Arena. Mandatory Credit: Steve Mitchell-USA TODAY Sports

Heels in the Pros: Harrison Barnes and Golden State Playing Like True Road Warriors

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Under first year Head Coach Mark Jackson, and behind some solid team defense, the Golden State Warriors currently find themselves in second place in their division and fifth overall in the Western Conference.

The Warriors are 16-8 overall and have an incredible record of 10-5 on the road away from Oakland. Only one team in the entire NBA(San Antonio) has a better road record than Golden State. Out of those ten victories on the road so far, six have come over teams with winning records and on their most recent road trip they have rattled off 6 of 7 wins, including five in a row against solid teams like the Miami Heat (97-95 win), and the Brooklyn Nets (109-102). Most recently Saturday night the Warriors blew out the Hawks at home in Atlanta 115-93.

When you look at Golden State statistically, nothing really jumps out at you as to them just dominating opponents. They are shooting just over 45% from the field as a team and are holding opponents to just over 43% shooting from the field. The Warriors do rank third in the NBA in rebounding averaging over 45 a game thanks to forward David Lee who is averaging 11.5 a game himself, which is good for fifth overall in the NBA. Along with the solid play of Carl Landry and rookie Draymond Green coming off the bench, Golden State has been able to get contributions from just about anyone who steps on the court for them so far this season.

Starting center Andrew Bogut has only played in four games thus far for the Warriors after having ankle surgery earlier this year, and is expected to miss extended time due to not yet being fully recovered. When Bogut returns, if it is this season, it should only add to the Warriors rebounding and overall team defense as a whole. The fact that Bogut has been out this long makes the Warriors winning ways that much more surprising, considering that when healthy, Andrew Bogut has consistently been one of the better true centers in the NBA.

Rookie first round pick Harrison Barnes has started in all 24 games this season for Golden State coming out of UNC less than a year ago. Barnes hasn’t been lighting it up offensively by any means but has played consistently enough to not be a liability when on the court. The former Tar Heel is averaging over 26 minutes a game, 9.3 points-per-game, 4.4 rebounds-per-game, and just 1.2 turnovers a game. Barnes is also averaging just over 8 field goal attempts a game while shooting over 43% from the field and over 34% behind the arc. One area of improvement that should improve with time and more attempts is from the free-throw line where Harrison is only shooting 67% on the season. I expect Barnes to step it up from the line as time goes by and he gets more attempts.

With Klay Thompson and Stephen Curry as the starting guards in Golden State, odds are they will be the primary options on offense until coach Mark Jackson tells them otherwise. Curry is averaging just under 20 points a game while shooting just over 42% from the field and 41% from 3-point land. Second-year standout Klay Thompson is averaging over 15 points a game on 40% shooting from the field and 36% from behind the arc.

Though the Warriors are currently winning, it has been an up and down season thus far for both Curry and Thompson. Both got off to slow starts but are beginning to turn it around now that Golden State is playing better as a team and distributing the ball around.

By the end of the season, I do expect Golden State to cool down a little when it comes to all these big wins on the road. They could still make the playoffs, but part of the reason why they are so high in the standing rite now is because of the sub-par play of teams like the Lakers, Dallas, Houston, and even Denver. Don’t expect these teams I just listed to continue playing so bad down the stretch closer to the Playoffs.

Oh yea, and if you haven’t seen Harrison Barnes ‘dunk of the year” nomination over Minnesota Timberwolves center Nikola Pekovic, here it is. Enjoy!

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Tags: Golden State Warriors Heels In The Pro's North Carolina Tar Heels

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