Originally written on Sports Junkie Online  |  Last updated 10/24/14
I was probably not the only person surprised on Draft night when Will Barton wasn't selected in the first round, as he slid all the way to 40th pick, where he was selected by the Portland Trail Blazers. Averaging 18.0 points and 8.0 rebounds a game his sophomore season, Barton also has above average length and solid athleticism/quickness that should translate well in the NBA game. Despite the numbers he put up, perhaps the number that concerned general managers the most was 175. That's how much the 6'6" guard/forward weighs.
Barton is aggressive on the glass, and does a great job of attacking the basket, as he averaged over five free throw attempts in his sophomore season, and those things might have been part of the concern for general managers. How can they invest guaranteed money in a guy whose slight frame could take significant abuse against the size and strength of NBA players?
The reigning Conference USA Player of the Year still needs to work on his jump shot, but showed significant improvement in field goal percentage (+8.1%), three-point percentage (+8.1%) and free throw percentage (+5.0) in his sophomore season. Barton also showed to be a solid on-ball defender, and adept at playing in the passing lanes (1.4 steals/game). He's also a willing passer (2.9 assists/game), and is an all-around team player.

Barton is a somewhat hard player to project, as the combination of his playing style and physical attributes make it hard to find an NBA comparison. Houston Rockets shooting guard Kevin Martin has a slight build like Barton, yet does a great job of attacking the rim and getting to the foul line. Martin was a better shooter than Barton as a rookie, but didn't play much that season (which is likely to happen with Barton).
Another (perhaps more accurate) comparison is Josh Howard. Like Barton, Howard slid some in his draft (29th overall) despite putting up very good numbers in college. Howard eventually developed into a very good scorer and rebounder with the Mavericks, but has always been a good-to-very good defender.
With Wesley Matthews (and probably Elliot Williams) ahead of him at shooting guard, and Nicolas Batum entrenched as the starting small forward, Barton definitely has his work cut out for him to earn playing time this season. If he can continue to develop his jump shot and add some muscle to his frame, Barton could start to crack the rotation in years two and three.

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