Matt Barnes' struggles as a shooter have been well documented, both here with Grizzly Bear Blues and elsewhere. However, he is a career 33.6% three-point shooter, and for the Memphis Grizzlies so far this season he is shooting 34% from beyond the arc, right at his career average. So, why have people been critical? Because for much of the season he was shooting 31.4% from three. He was under-performing from range, a mediocre or worse shooter normally playing even worse from beyond the arc, and teams were not respecting him as a perimeter threat...
Until, perhaps, Thursday night. Until he exploded for a 6-6 shooting performance against the Detroit Pistons.
Matt Barnes has made six threes in a game multiple times in his career, including this series of clips from two seasons ago against the Oklahoma City Thunder.
His career high for made threes in a game is seven, which he did on December 26th, 2006 as a member of the Golden State Warriors against the Philadelphia 76ers. He led the Warriors with 25 points that night as his team defeated Chris Webber, Rodney Carney and company. In case you really want to see how long ago that was, here are Matt Barnes' highlights from that season. He looks oh so young-
That younger version of Matt is not walking through that door...and for him to be of value to the Grizzlies, he does not need to be necessarily. Barnes has been a volume shooter, not known for his accuracy, but last night he was both, and it could pay huge dividends for a struggling Grizzlies offense.
So how did he do it?
Well, for the First Made Three, He Abused Ersan Ilyasova.
Ilyasova is so far behind that he cannot make up the lost footing between himself and Barnes fast enough. Lee recognizes the opening and kicks to Barnes.
Barnes is 13-25 from that corner this season, 52% from the floor, making it the area where he is most dangerous.
Marcus Morris Gave Him Too Much Room For Make #2
Over-aggression on help defense is not needed from Morris; Brandon Jennings has help in the form of Aron Baynes, who is defending Marc Gasol and is there to cut off any penetration from Williams. It is also important to remember that Williams is on a 10-day contract- he is not the threat that Barnes is. Morris does not need to be so close.
May be time to defend Matt Barnes...or not.
Make #3 Finds Morris Out of Position Again
Credit to JaMychal Green- he reads the mistake quickly and kicks the ball to Matt in the opposite corner, where he is far less effective (8-31, or 25.8%) but HE IS WIDE OPEN GET HIM THE BALL NOW.
Not the best night for Morris. Detroit appeared to want to over-help and force these kinds of kicks and cross-court passes, but without the awareness and foot speed to close, you are putting your players in a tough spot.
The 4th Made Three Comes Off of a Long Range Pick and Pop
Matt Barnes, and Zach Randolph, set up a nice double pick/screen look. Barnes sets the initial pick for Mario Chalmers, but Zach Randolph's presence makes it difficult for Ersan Ilyasova to get over the top to recover on Barnes.
Ersan is already out of position from the jump.
Impressive play design. Ilyasova does not stand a chance due to a lack of court awareness, and the fact that Zach Randolph is a large human being.
Being in rhythm is so important for a shooter. So much is contingent of setting your feet, squaring your base toward the basket, aligning your elbow and feeling the release at the top of your jumper. When a defender can get a hand in front, or close space before the shot, it will become much more difficult to convert. Barnes was not consistently challenged on this night, and it is reflected in his stat line.
Make #4 is Thanks to the Threat of Marc Gasol
When you play with one of the best players in the world, and he looks it in the second half, it can pay dividends.
After four made three-pointers, you would think Detroit would be more worried about the hot handed Barnes from three than Gasol from two, or the prospect of a slasher in the lane. They aren't and it allows for Marc to create for Barnes.
Barnes is a 40% shooter from this above the break area this season, so he is surely confident from this part of the court. Make #5 is converted because of those rhythm opportunities from before. Matt is in a groove...which leads to...
The Heat Check, Also Known as Make #6
When you are playing as well as Matt Barnes as a shooter on this night, why not?
Mario Chalmers had also been having himself a night, so Detroit perhaps backs up to make sure he and Marc Gasol do not get a free run at the rim. This leaves Matt Barnes with room to work.
A heat check shot on a step-back three in transition, to be sure. Given the circumstances, and the success that Barnes had on this night, a forgivable sin...especially when it is good for his sixth made three.
Barnes' great shooting performance is one thing, but what stands out is the fact that several of these shots were hit at key moments of the game. Whether it was building leads, or scraping to get back in to the contest, Matt did not shrink away from the moment. He will not shoot like this all of the time; hell, he may never do it again. As long as he is around that career average of 34% shooting, however, and as long as he is willing to take those shots? Teams will have to start respecting him more from outside, and that means only more spacing and efficiency for the struggling offense of the Memphis Grizzlies.