Sacramento Kings 2023-24 season preview: Harrison Barnes
Sep 29, 2023, 11:49 AM
(Photo by Christian Petersen/Getty Images)
It’s about that time.
If you’ve been counting down the days until Sacramento Kings basketball returns, we are less than two weeks away from October 8th’s preseason opener in Vancouver, Canada.
As we prepare for another season of NBA action in the 916, it’s time to dive into this year’s Kings team and break down each player on the opening night roster.
Today, we’ll look at veteran forward Harrison Barnes, who is back on a new three-year deal with Sacramento.
Barnes, who was acquired from the Dallas Mavericks in a trade deadline deal back on February 7, 2019, has spent more of his career in a Sacramento Kings jersey than anywhere else.
The 10-year veteran has spent four-and-a-half seasons with the Kings, averaging 15.4 points, 5.3 rebounds, and 2.3 assists per game while shooting 47 percent from the field and 38 percent from three-point range over 317 games (all starts).
How did Harrison Barnes perform during the 2022-23 season?
In what was a contract year for ‘The Black Falcon,’ Barnes was a constant presence in Sacramento’s lineup for all of the team’s 89 games.
Over 82 appearances during the 2022-23 regular season, Barnes averaged 15.0 points, 4.5 rebounds, and 1.6 assists per game on 47 percent shooting from the field and 37 percent from three-point range.
The 31-year-old struggled during the seven-game series loss against the Golden State Warriors in the opening round of the NBA Playoffs (10.7 points per game on 41/24/73 shooting splits), a component of Barnes’ season that cast some doubt over the forward’s potential return to the Kings in free agency.
While some fans wanted Sacramento general manager Monte McNair to upgrade Barnes’ position in free agency or on the trade market, the Kings quickly brought the veteran back on a three-year, $54 million contract to keep him in the 916 through the 2025-26 season.
Harrison Barnes’ strengths & weaknesses
As the saying goes, availability is the best ability.
Barnes has played in 317 of 336 possible games during his time with Sacramento, meaning the forward has appeared in 94.3% of his team’s games from 2019 through 2023.
Aside from Barnes’ impressive track record of being healthy and available to play on a nightly basis, he has been a consistent presence in the Kings’ lineup for several seasons.
Since Barnes joined Sacramento in 2019, he’s been available almost every night and acted as a perimeter threat.
Barnes is one of 10 NBA players over the past four seasons to average 15+ points and 5+ rebounds per game while knocking down 38% or more of their attempts from 3PT: pic.twitter.com/4u4FBmOFut
— Frankie Cartoscelli (@FCartoscelli3) September 5, 2023
While Barnes isn’t an All-Star talent, he provides Sacramento with the presence of a forward who can play both the small and power forward positions and use his strength to get downhill and to the basket.
Three-point shooting is arguably Barnes’ most-known skill, as the UNC product holds a career three-point shooting percentage of .378 over 829 games.
While Barnes’ numbers over the past four seasons paint a strong portrait of his contributions to Sacramento’s ascension back into respectability, the veteran forward does have his pitfalls.
Last season, Barnes would often disappear during the second halves of games, most notably following hot starts to games. This could be because opposing teams are making adjustments in taking Barnes out of the game and applying pressure on the Kings to get other players like Keegan Murray or Domantas Sabonis to take more field goal attempts, but the issue remains that Sacramento can’t finish games playing four-on-five.
2022-23 featured Barnes taking more of a backseat to options like Murray, Kevin Huerter, and Malik Monk, a trend likely to continue in 2023-24 as the expected progression of Murray could mean even fewer field goal attempts for Barnes this season.
The forward’s 9.6 field goal attempts per game in 2022-23 was Barnes’ lowest average in a season since 2014-15–his third season in the NBA.
Sacramento doesn’t need Barnes to average 20 points per game, but bringing something to the table in games is imperative, especially in late-game situations. At 6’8, 225 points, Barnes is skilled at using his strength to get to the basket and score or draw fouls, but he will sometimes rely on his three-point game instead of hammering the paint.
If Barnes can attack the paint more consistently in 2023-24 and attempt to attract defenders off of his teammates on the perimeter, that’s a recipe for success on a roster with plenty of shooters.
What to expect from Harrison Barnes in 2023-24
My colleague Chris Watkins and I have an ongoing saying that has rung true over the past couple of seasons:
“When Harrison Barnes plays well, the Sacramento Kings play well.”
In 2022-23, Barnes performed well as players around him like De’Aaron Fox and Domantas Sabonis played like stars, Keegan Murray burst onto the scene as one of the best shooters in the league, and Kevin Huerter joined forces with Malik Monk to give Sacramento incredible depth at the two position.
This season, Barnes could see himself falling even further from the top of the pecking order as Murray works towards becoming one of the top-scoring options on this team.
Barnes will have his days where he will top the 20-point mark and get into a rhythm from three-point range, but the Kings will benefit even more if he can improve on the defensive end and get back to his rebounding ways from the 2020-22 seasons (6.1 per game).
Off of the floor, Barnes’ impact is immeasurable. He is beloved in the locker room by his coaches and teammates and is a massive part of why Sacramento’s chemistry is off the charts.
While we could see Barnes’ role shrink even further if Sasha Vezenkov proves he can be impactful at the NBA level, there is no doubt that HB will be a large part of this team’s day-to-day in the push for another postseason berth.
Sacramento Kings 2023-24 Preseason Schedule
- Sunday, October 8th – Sacramento Kings @ Toronto Raptors – 5 PM PST (Preseason Opener)
- Wednesday, October 11th – Sacramento Kings @ Los Angeles Lakers – 7 PM PST (in Anaheim, CA)
- Sunday, October 15th – Sacramento Kings vs. Golden State Warriors – 7 PM PST
- Wednesday, October 18th – Sacramento Kings @ Golden State Warriors – 7 PM PST
- Thursday, October 19th – Sacramento Kings vs. Utah Jazz – 7 PM PST
Sacramento Kings 2023-24 Regular Season Schedule
- Tuesday, October 24th – NBA regular season begins
- Wednesday, October 25th – Sacramento Kings @ Utah Jazz – 6 PM (Season Opener)
- Friday, October 27th – Sacramento Kings vs. Golden State Warriors – 7 PM (Home Opener)