Thursday, October 3, 2013

Blazer Player Review: Will Barton

One of the more high-flying, high-energy players on the Blazers is fan-favorite, Will Barton. Better known for his nickname Will “The Thrill” Barton, the Memphis product has been showing the NBA how big he can be. Taken with the 40th pick overall in the 2012 draft, Barton has been a great player since high school. Coming out of Brewster Academy he was a highly touted recruit. ESPN and had him listed as the BEST shooting guard in 2010.

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He played in every game his freshman and sophomore years. He played in 30.6 minutes a game in his freshman year and he led the Tigers in scoring with 12.3 PPG. He also averaged 4.9 rebounds and 2.8 assists per game his first year. His sophomore year he increased his PPG to 18.0 and his rebounds went up to eight per game. He was a great shooter from a percentage stand point, but some would argue that he was dunking and hitting layups. He shot 42.8% his first year and 50.9% his sophomore year from the field. As a free throw shooter he is somewhat of a liability, 69.9% and 74.9% respectively.
He won several awards throughout college. His freshman year he was on the Conference USA All-Freshman team and the Conference USA All-Conference Third Team. After his sophomore year he was the Conference USA Player of the Year and put on the Conference USA All-Conference First Team.
Now that I’ve dwelled on his college days, let’s take a look at his first season as a Blazer. He only got to play 12.2 minutes a game, and score 4.0 PPG, but he did have one big night. In a loss to the Mavericks he scored 22 pts, grabbed 13 rebounds and 6 assists. He also shot 7-11 (63.6%) from the field and 8-9 (89.9%) from the FT line that night.
The last month of the season Barton averaged 12.6 points, 5.8 rebounds and 3 assists per game. Barton did get to play in 73 games however he was very underplayed, but he did get some time. He also spent some time in the D-League with the Idaho Stampede, but he only spent two days the first time and three the second time.
Barton’s role for the team will be about the same or a little less involved. With lots of bench players who have proven experience, Barton will need to compete for playing time. Everyone assumes that C.J. will take Barton’s spot as Wesley’s backup. However, we don’t know how much Barton has improved and where his shot is, so we’ll just have to wait and see come Monday if he’s improved enough to “keep” the backup job. He will also have to battle Dorell Wright. Wright’s sharpshooting ability will make him an asset off the bench and a threat to Barton’s playing time even though Wright is considered a small forward. Barton has greatness in him, but he needs to be able to show that he can do it consistently at an NBA level.

I think Barton has the ability to be a solid backup, and a starter if he can bulk up that skinny frame. He also needs to make his 3-point shot and step back more effective. If he can show that he’s improved, he could even be up before C.J. Now we’ll see, but Barton can be a great player going forward. When Barton gets on the court he is going to thrill, just a question of when he’ll play.