Harrison Barnes vs. LeBron James
*Photo via NY Post
LeBron James, Small Forward, Cleveland Cavaliers
27.6 ppg, 10.4 rpg, 8.3 apg, 42.8 Fg%, 17.6 3P%, 1.8 stl, 1.8 blk, 4.4 tov
LeBron James is simply the best basketball player in the world. He can play every position on the floor, guard every player in the league and is capable of dominating every aspect of the game on any given night. At 27.6 points per game, James is third in playoff scoring as he has had to carry more and more of the offensive load as his teammates continue to fight the injury bug. To go along with his ability to put the basketball through the hoop, LeBron James is a terrific passer. At six foot eight, James is able to see over his defenders and deliver on-target passes to open shooters, setting his team up for success. Any team that has James should never be considered an underdog; he can control a game without scoring a single point, as he can dominate every other aspect in order to put his print on the game.
Being the best basketball player on the planet, it is hard to find many weaknesses in James’ game. However, in these playoffs Lebron is shooting a career worst 17.6 percent from three-point range. In fact, his shooting from long distance is the worst in NBA playoff history for players who have attempted at least 60 three-pointers. He is also shooting 42.8 percent from the field, which, by his standards, is very inefficient. Due to the injuries to fellow star players Kevin Love and Kyrie Irving, James has been forced to become a volume shooter, a role that has led him to being less efficient from the field. For James’ Cavaliers to be crowned NBA champions for the first time in the history of their franchise, James must continue to dominate in all facets of the game and look to be more efficient in these NBA Finals.
Harrison Barnes, Small Forward, Golden State Warriors
11.3 ppg, 5.0 rpg, 1.8 apg, 46.3 Fg%, 32.6 3P%, 0.8 stl, 0.5 blk, 1.2 tov
Harrison Barnes is a third year player out of North Carolina, who is about to enter the biggest stage of his life. The good news for Warriors fans, however, is that Barnes often times shows up when the lights are the brightest. When Klay Thompson went down in the Warriors’ closeout game against the Rockets, it was Barnes who stepped up scoring a team-high 24 points and ensuring the Warriors a ticket to the NBA Finals. Barnes’ main strengths are his mid-range shooting as well as his athleticism. At six foot eight, Barnes has the length to be a pest on the defensive end and get out in transition for easy buckets. Barnes’ mid-range shooting can also be very valuable to the Warriors in these finals as they are going up against the number one three-point defense in these playoffs. Barnes must relish this moment and deliver on the biggest stage of professional basketball in order for his Warriors to be crowned the champions this year.
Although he has now been in this league for three years now, Barnes is still only 23 years old, and he will be matched up against the four-time MVP and two-time champion Lebron James for most of the series. At 210 pounds, Barnes is giving up 40 pounds to James, who will have absolutely no problem going down to the low block and working his way there. Barnes must find a way to improve his defense by not allowing James to get good positioning down low. This will be the main challenge for Barnes in this series, and he must work twice as hard on the defensive end, then on the offensive end in order to be rendered effective in this potentially long series.
In a matchup featuring a young, athletic team player in Harrison Barnes and the world’s best player in LeBron James, the advantage is obviously given to the latter. LeBron’s ability to dominate the game from both an offensive and defensive standpoint should cause problems for the Warriors and Barnes in particular. Barnes will have his moments in this series, and his team may come out victorious. However in this individual matchup there is no doubt that the “King” has the advantage and should have his way with Barnes in these 2015 NBA Finals.