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Why is Harrison Barnes Struggling?

Harrison Barnes, UNC’s super-freshman, in his last seven games: 21-78 shooting (26 percent), 5-25 on three-pointers (20 percent). Fran Fraschilla of ESPN chimes in (and hopes to avoid the wrath of Roy Williams):

he has shot way too many contested jump shots so far. It plays right into a defense’s hands and, in fact, often times they have been “invisible turnovers” for the Tar Heels. They don’t show up in the box score as turnovers, but they are low-percentage chances for Barnes to score on. In other words, it’s like a baseball player chasing bad pitches.

Secondly, he’s much more comfortable driving to his left; when he does drive to his right, he usually shoots a fade-away floater with little chance to go in or get fouled. Some “scouting report” teams are already forcing him to his right hand.

And lastly, Barnes doesn’t embrace contact when he does get inside a defense and often double-pumps when he gets into the lane area. Good offensive players take their bodies to the defense, not away from it. Remember, he’s only getting the foul line a little more than three times a game.

He’s still got 20-something games left in the season, but nearly all the NBA draft pundits (all to be taken with a grain of salt) have said Barnes is no longer a lock to be the No. 1 pick next June. Those Kevin Durant comparisons? Definitely premature. Again, it’s early, but Barnes looks more like he’s in the mold of former Tar Heel Marvin Williams, a tweener brimming with potential who may not realize it for years.

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