Remember when you used to hate Matt Barnes as much as when you get up to order at Starbucks, and they tell you that they've already stopped serving blonde roast for the day?
Fine, maybe that's just me with the coffee problems. But, nevertheless, you used to really hate Matt Barnes. And to some, maybe hate is a strong word, but I believe it to be warranted when talking about Barnes.
He's one of those guys where if he's on your team, you love him. But if you're playing against him, you'd love nothing more than to walk up to him and punch him in the face.
Admit it, at one point in your life, you have had the urge to clench your first, walk up to Matt Barnes and punch him as hard as humanly possible, right in the face.
And Matt Barnes knows this.
"I realize that I'm one of those guys that if I'm on your team, you love me, and if I'm not, you hate me," said Barnes on "The Chris Vernon Show" back in late July. "I love being the guy that everybody hates."
Admittedly, I am not a huge professional wrestling fan, but I am familiar with a heel turn. Well, to Grizzlies fans, Barnes has just made an anti-heel-turn (or whatever the correct term is). (Ed. Note: he's been healed of his heel-ish ways.) Barnes is a member of the Memphis Grizzlies now, and if you haven't already done a complete 180 on your emotional feeling towards Barnes, it probably won't take you too many games to realize that this guy was born to play for the Grizzlies.
Memphis Grizzlies Season Preview
Barnes is a tough, blue-collar dude, and that's something that Memphians are drawn towards (see: Randolph, Zach or Allen, Tony). He's also not one to back down from any challenge. Throughout the course of his journeyman career, Barnes has made a living by shooting threes at an above average rate, and more importantly, by guarding the other team's best perimeter scorer.
And while Father Time eventually wins all battles, and Barnes is not the defensive nightmare he was four or five years ago, he's still a very capable defender who will be locked in on that side of the ball, another attribute that Grizz fans will love.
I guess you don't HAVE to be borderline crazy to be a great defender, but it does feel like most of the great defenders one can think of off the top of their head are, shall we say, just a little bit different than the rest of us. And Barnes is no exception. Since to '07-'08 season, Barnes has racked up 65 technical fouls and has been ejected from 11 games. For perspective, since his rookie season in '01-'02, Zach Randolph has received 52 technical fouls (23 as a Grizzly) and been ejected four times (twice as a Grizzly). And, yes, I know that Z-Bo has been a model citizen since coming to Memphis, but let me assure you that there was a time when Memphis' adopted son was a part of a team known as the 'Jail Blazers', and he was considered one of the baddest dudes in the league. But over just the last eight seasons, Barnes blows Z-Bo's career technical and ejection numbers out of the water.
So I say all of that to say this: Barnes isn't scared of anybody, and he's not afraid to let them know it.
How the Grizzlies acquired Matt Barnes was nothing short of a masterpiece by the front office.
Most of you probably know the story, but here's the abridged and simplistic version in case for whatever reason you haven't heard it or are still unclear about the details of the acquisition.
Basically, the Grizzlies sent the draft rights to Janis Timma (a single tear drop fell in John Hollinger's coffee mug that day) for Luke Ridnour. Ridnour's contract was absorbed into a trade exception that was created when the Grizzlies traded Quincy Pondexter to New Orleans. In trading for Ridnour's contract, the Grizzlies now had the ability to take back a slightly larger salary than they did with just the trade exception.Ten days earlier, Barnes had been shipped to Charlotte as part of a deal that sent Lance Stephenson to the Clippers, and the Hornets really had no real need to keep Barnes. And it just so happens that Ridnour's contract, according to a clause in the Collective Bargaining Agreement, was just enough to trade straight-up for Barnes, giving the Grizzlies another veteran wing and the Hornets cap relief.
So, if you take a look at the trade from the initial transaction to the final one, the Grizzlies essentially got Matt Barnes for the draft rights to the last pick in the 2013 NBA Draft. The return on investment should be outstanding. Like, if Barnes only plays one game this season, the Grizzlies won the trade. That's some wizard-level work by the front office.
So what exactly can we expect from Matt Barnes aside from being a tough guy who likes to mix it up from time to time?
Well it's difficult to pin down precisely what Barnes' role will be with the team simply due to the number of wing options the Grizzlies have. Dave Joerger probably has a good idea of what he would like Barnes' role to be, but I think if he were being completely honest, he would tell you that it's September, and there's no way he can definitively tell you exactly how he's going to use Matt Barnes.
But I do think one thing is clear: the organization didn't bring him here to sit on the bench. He's going to play, and he's going to be in the rotation in some capacity.
In fact, there's an argument to be made that Barnes should be in your starting five, and it's not too far fetched to think that might be the case by the time the playoffs roll around.
As far as Barnes the basketball player is concerned, I think Grizzlies fans, even the casual ones, are familiar enough with him to have a basic understanding of what he brings to the court. He plays with great passion and energy on the defensive end, but he's also more than capable on offense.
Last season, Barnes shot 36.2 percent from three, the second highest percentage of his career, and that number rose to 37.5 percent when shooting corner threes, the third-best percentage of his career. So, while Barnes is not a 'shooter', necessarily, just 33.8 percent from three for his career, defenses have to respect his perimeter shot, opening up the floor for the Grizzlies.
It is also worth noting that Barnes is a willing shooter. He hoisted 376 threes last season, or 99 more than Mike Conley, who led the Grizzlies in three-point attempts last season
Barnes has posted a net positive +/- per 100 possessions each of the last six seasons, meaning simply that on average, his team is outscoring their opponent while he's on the floor.
An underrated part of acquiring a player with the size and skills of Matt Barnes is his ability to guard and play multiple positions. The Grizzlies saw first hand just how much smaller and quicker some NBA teams are choosing to play. In the playoffs, the Warriors played Harrison Barnes at power forward and Draymond Green at center, giving the Grizzlies all kinds of trouble. Now with Matt Barnes, who has spent 23 percent of his career minutes at power forward per Basketball Reference, Joerger and the Grizzlies are much more equipped to deal with and combat smaller lineups. The luxury of having Matt Barnes and Jeff Green who can, in theory, match up with a Harrison Barnes/Draymond Green 4/5 combo is something that the Grizzlies didn't have last season.
It will be interesting to see how creative Joerger gets with lineups this year. Having combo forwards like Barnes and Green, a combo big like Brandan Wright, and two scoring point guards in Beno Udrih and Russ Smith to go along with the plethora of wings should allow Joerger any number of lineup combinations.
Oh, yeah, there's this, too.
Welcome to Memphis, Matt Barnes.