By Sean Kennedy (@PhillyFastBreak)
Well, they did it. The Sixers went out and grabbed a former star guard from the ACC. However, it wasn’t Syracuse alum Dion Waiters, but instead, former NC State Wolfpack point guard Anthony “Cat” Barber:
Sources: Undrafted NC State guard Cat Barber has agreed to a partially guaranteed deal with the Philadelphia 76ers.
— Shams Charania (@ShamsCharania) July 21, 2016
The deal is not yet official, as a signing would put the Sixers over the 20-man offseason roster limit.
Barber has not officially signed per source. They have expressed interest. Likely a formality but no move needed yet https://t.co/MzDWVupLWi
— Derek Bodner (@DerekBodnerNBA) July 22, 2016
Candidates to release and make room for Barber include other players in partially guaranteed deals in Shawn Long, James Webb III, and Brandon Paul, and Kendall Marshall who is on a non-guaranteed contract.
The 6’3″ Barber will turn 22 years old in a few days. He was projected as a late second-round pick after deciding to leave following his junior year at NC State, but wound up undrafted. Barber played 4 summer league games with New Orleans, averaging 6.3 points, 1.3 rebounds, and 0.5 assists in 11.6 minutes per contest.
During his three years in Raleigh, Barber shot 42.8% from the field and 34.7% from three. Last season was his breakout campaign, as Barber averaged 23.5 points, 4.6 rebounds, and 4.5 assists per game, on his way to a 1st-team All-ACC selection.
Barber hails from Hampton, Virginia, same as Sixers legend Allen Iverson, so those comparisons have naturally always followed him. Although he’s not even close to the same league talent-wise as the soon-to-be Hall-of-Famer, their games are similar stylistically. Here’s an excerpt from his DraftExpress scouting report:
“Barber’s professional potential starts with his speed and ability to use it with the ball in his hands, as he is easily one of the quickest players in this draft class. Few defenders can stay in front of him off the dribble, as he possesses high end speed, great acceleration and impressive shiftiness while in motion. He can stop and cut in an instant to lose his defender off the dribble.”
Of course, with any point guard brought into Philadelphia, people are going to wonder how he fits with Ben Simmons. At least based on what he did in college, Barber would not appear to be an ideal pairing with the first overall pick. Also from DraftExpress:
“Barber was the engine of the N.C. State offense, having the ball in his hands a majority of the time and always looking to create shots. Most of his offensive possessions ended with him creating offense for himself off the dribble, with almost 75% of his shots coming from isolation, pick and roll or transition opportunities as logged by Synergy Sports Technology.”
“Defensively, Barber has made some improvements, but doesn’t project to be a big impact player. He’s shown more of a commitment defensively this season, communicating to his teammates and sliding his feet more effectively guarding the ball. He can be lackadaisical at times defensively, not fighting hard through screens or taking the best route off the ball, relying on his speed to cover mistakes. He doesn’t have the length to contest jump shots or the strength to ward off dribble penetration, limiting his overall potential.”
Like Simmons, Barber appears to be a guy who needs to ball in his hands a lot to make an impact offensively. Defensively, you would want the guard alongside Simmons to be a lock-down defender, which Barber never projects to be according to scout consensus.
From the look of things, Cat Barber would appear to be another training camp body destined for an eventual spot with the 87ers. However, this time last year we were all saying the same thing about T.J. McConnell. Granted, it was a different set of circumstances with much fewer established veterans on the roster, but sometimes, all guys need is a chance to show what they can do. Barber will have his shot.