Getting To Know Leandro Barbosa
The Warriors signed Leandro Barbosa to a veteran’s minimum contract. Barbosa is best known for his time with the Phoenix Suns. Barbosa spent the first 7 years of his career in Phoenix, highlighted by winning the 2006-07 NBA Sixth Man of the Year award. Last season, he re-joined the Suns midseason for a brief stint before breaking his hand and ending his year.
Warriors World decided to sit down with Brightside of the Sun blogger, Sreekar Jasthi to find out more about Barbosa.
1. Lets start from the beginning, what are Barbosa’s strengths and weaknesses?
Barbosa’s biggest strength, even at 31 years of age, is his speed and the pace he plays with. “The Brazilian Blur” was once known as one of the fastest dudes in the league and although age and injuries have slowed him down, he’s shown that he can still race down the court when he’s healthy. He can be a mini-microwave scorer off the bench and can still get buckets, mostly with a soft touch around the basket. He’s a good ball-handler (but not a great facilitator) and a somewhat of a streaky shooter at this point of his career.
Barbosa’s not a great defender but he’s definitely been serviceable. Also, he’s been an efficient scorer throughout most of his career but his percentages have taken a hit the last few years. I think this is more due to him battling through a series of injuries, not because he suddenly became a worse shooter. He occasionally takes a questionable shot here and there and doesn’t have the best floor vision but is mostly a smart player.
He’s also a great locker room guy and one of the most likable guys in the league.
2. You mentioned Barbosa’s not a great defender. How bad is he?
Barbosa’s not a horrible defender by any means and he definitely gives effort, but his off-ball instincts aren’t great and he lacks strength. He’s fast enough to stay in front of his man on the ball and is good at applying pressure. Part of his bad reputation on the defensive end definitely has to do with his prominent role on the “Seven Seconds or Less” Suns teams. While he’s not going to shut anyone down, he’s a serviceable team defender.
3. How has he changed since his first time around with the Suns where he won 6th man of the year, to his brief stint last season?
The biggest difference between the Barbosa of old–the 6th man of the year winner–and the Barbosa of today is health. The guy just hasn’t been able to stay healthy recently. After tore his ACL in 2013 when he was on the Celtics, he actually recovered well enough to look pretty solid on his Brazilian club Pinheiros, averaging 20-3-3.
When Bledsoe went down with a torn meniscus last winter, the Suns brought the Blur back for some bench firepower and to be a good locker room presence/fan favorite. He was very inefficient for a few games and couldn’t buy a bucket from beyond the arc, but the speed and energy was still there right from the start. Eventually, he began to knock down some jumpshots as well but after 20 games, he missed the rest of the season because of a hand fracture.
I think he fits in very well, especially with what Steve Kerr (who has a great relationship with Barbosa, which no doubt played a role in this deal) purportedly wants to do with the team. He’ll likely spend some time being a part of the second unit alongside Shaun Livingston, who should be a great backcourt partner for him.
Like always, he’ll push the pace and attack the basket every chance he gets, which should help Golden State get to the line a bit more. I don’t envision him playing very many minutes, of course, and he will likely sit some games out when others are clicking, but if he stays healthy, Barbosa could be a solid contributor to this team and perhaps even regain some of the efficiency that made him such a great bench scorer back in the day.
5. How is Barbosa in the locker room with teammates? With the fans? Media? Any good anecdotal stories?
Barbosa’s a fantastic teammate and was a fan favorite among Suns fans. He’s always got a smile on his face and is loved by his teammates and fans alike. He’s sometimes candid with media but he’s active on Twitter and interacts with fans regularly. In fact, my friend and Bright Side of the Sun writer Scott Howard tweeted back in January that Barbosa might not ever hit a jumpshot again (and didn’t even @ him) and Barbosa replied to promise that he would (he did eventually). So we know The Blur searches his name on Twitter:
@ScottHoward42 I will…for sure
— Leandro Barbosa (@TheBlurBarbosa) January 28, 2014
Barbosa was also part of the 2009-10 Suns team (put together by GM Kerr, of course) that really overachieved and made it to the Western Conference Finals. That team had some of the best chemistry I’ve ever seen and Barbosa was a big part of that. He’s a great guy and will definitely fit in with these Warriors well.
A couple examples of how awesome/weird The Blur is:
Thank you Sreekar Jasthi. You can follow Sreekar on Twitter: @sreekyshooter