Harrison Barnes has to do more for the Kings during final stretch of furious playoff race 

Sacramento Kings v New York Knicks
Sacramento Kings v New York Knicks / Sarah Stier/GettyImages

When it was announced that Kevin Huerter would undergo season-ending surgery and Malik Monk suffered a serious knee injury, we all knew that the Kings would struggle. Missing two key players during the most important part of the playoff race is not something teams generally overcome easily. 

Despite solid play from Keon Ellis, Davion Mitchell, and Sasha Vezenkov lately, the Kings are not a very deep team. As a result, it was clear right away that the main guys would have to do more. The stars would have to play like superstars, Keegan Murray would have to show the All-Star potential the organization sees in him, and Harrison Barnes would have to be an offensive threat. 

During March, Barnes was playing rather well, scoring double-figures in 11 out of 15 games. He started April off similarly well, dropping 24 points on the Utah Jazz, but has been quiet since. 

The Kings need more from Barnes down the stretch

Against the Clippers, Barnes only took seven shots and finished with 6 points, 2 rebounds, 1 assist, and 1 steal. The Kings could survive a quiet game from him that night because Davion Mitchell and Trey Lyles were huge off the bench

In the loss to New York, that was a much different story. Recording more turnovers than points, rebounds, and assists combined, Barnes might as well have stayed at the hotel.  

We all know that Barnes has the tendency to disappear from games every once in a while, but now is not the right time to do that. The Kings may be able to survive quiet games from Barnes when Huerter and Monk are playing well. Now, they cannot. 

To give his team even just a fighting chance to survive this final stretch and make the playoffs, Barnes needs to be an offensive contributor. Expecting your starting forward to score at least ten points a game shouldn’t be too much to ask for. 

Barnes is not usually a priority in Sacramento’s offensive scheme, but even if he doesn’t get plays drawn for him, he sometimes just has to get the ball and make things happen. The 31-year-old is known as a savvy veteran with championship experience who can get to the line. The Kings need that. Even if he just draws some fouls and hits some free throws it would be worth a lot. 

Otherwise, the Kings’ season might be over much earlier than we all would like. Barnes has to step up his game from now on. He cannot expect Mitchell, Ellis, Murray, and Vezenkov, who have little meaningful NBA experience between them, to save the team.