- Measurables: 6-foot-6, 175 pounds, sophomore guard from Memphis
- Key Stats: 18 points, 8.0 rebounds, 2.9 assists per game while shooting 51 percent from the field and 35 percent from three
- Projected: Late first/early second round
- Hickory High Similarity Score
Why I’m intrigued by this guy
Like all Pistons fans, I’m an advocate of Detroit finding an impact big in the first round. But object 1-A on my desired wish list is an athletic wing who can legitimately push Tayshaun Prince for minutes. Barton is a player who would fit that bill if he slips to the Pistons in round two.
Pros for the Pistons
I love guys who show big-time improvement, and that’s exactly what Barton did from his freshman to sophomore season at Memphis. His overall field goal percentage jumped from 43 to 51 percent and his 3-point shooting jumped from 27 to 35 percent in increased minutes. I also like that Barton got more selective with his long range shot. He shot more threes as a freshman than he did as a sophomore, but in his second college season he improved his percentage by shooting the three less without eliminating it from his repertoire altogether.
He’s also a good rebounder for his size, collecting eight per game. He might not be a guy who is ready to start from day one in the NBA, but he has a nice mix of perimeter skills and versatility, plus has shown that he works at his game and still has a lot of room to grow.
Cons for the Pistons
Although he’s not Austin Daye-skinny, Barton does need to get stronger. That’s the good (or salvageable, I should say) thing about having Prince signed long-term. There wouldn’t be pressure on a player like Barton to take over that position right away. Prince could still get the bulk of the minutes while a hard-working player like Barton could, hopefully, get stronger and chip away, gradually earning a bigger role as he’s physically ready for it.
It’s good that Barton’s shooting improved, but with one bad season shooting the ball from three and one decent season, that’s still kind of a small sample size to declare that his shooting woes from outside are behind him. If he’s going to be a NBA rotation player, him being able to knock down the three, especially on a team like the Pistons that needs more long range threats to get better floor spacing, is going to be vital.
What others are saying
The Good: Barton is one of the smoothest scorers in college basketball. He can score from anywhere on the floor and can get buckets in a hurry. His long, lanky frame makes him a tough guard. He can be a game-changing defender on the perimeter and is an excellent rebounder for his size.
The Bad: He needs to add strength and he could be more consistent from 3-point range. Occasionally he falls back into the bad habits he had as a freshman.
The Upside: Barton has grown tremendously this season. He’s developed a lethal midrange game, has dramatically improved his rebounding numbers and cut way down on turnovers and bad shots. A few NBA scouts have him in the late teens to early 20s on their boards.
Barton’s focus on attacking the basket has also led to him getting to the free throw line at a much higher rate. His handle could still use some tightening up, but he’s utilizing his quick first step and rangy strides to get to the rim and is also more active on the offensive glass and with cuts in the basket area. His nine free throw attempts per-40 ranks him second amongst all wing prospects in our database. Despite this increased emphasis on getting to the basket, he’s nearly cut his turnover rate in half from last season, which is quite impressive.
NBADraft.net: You were one of the best rebounding wings in college last season. What do you think separates you from other players your size in that regard?
Will Barton: Determination and will. I have a knack for finding the ball. I like to rebound because at my position I’m able to push it. If a big man gets a rebound then he usually has to find an outlet. If I get the rebound then it’s an automatic fast break. I love having the ball in my hands and getting out on the break. It is really just determination and will to get my team extra possessions and limiting other teams’ possessions. I’ll do anything for my team to win.
What is the best thing Will Barton does for his team?
The fabled “intangibles” that made Will Barton an All-America candidate — and Conference USA’s Player of the Year — as a sophomore in 2011-12 will be his greatest asset on draft boards. Ironically, they could be viewed as his greatest weakness, too. Barton did everything his Memphis Tigers needed last winter, including lead the team in rebounding (8.0 per game) despite weighing 175 pounds soaking wet. A natural, if at times unorthodox scorer (in the mold of his Memphis predecessor, Chris Douglas-Roberts), Barton led C-USA with 18.0 points per game. But he can’t be called a pure shooter, is too small for any kind of post presence, and doesn’t have the ball-handling skills to break down the kind of pressure defense he’ll face in the NBA. Barton, simply put, is a basketball player who finds his way (literally, on the floor, and on a larger scale of player development). He wears his emotions as visibly as his headband. If he’s able to find a comfortable role with an NBA team, he’ll be a fan favorite.
NOTE: He’s most often compared to Rip Hamilton, largely because of his thin body type. But Barton isn’t in the same category of shooter as Hamilton. Not really close.
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