Expectations: One of Steve Kerr’s favorite players, Leandro Barbosa, was definitely going to get some playing time no matter how old he is. Andre Iguodala is the first two-guard off the bench, but Barbosa is a different type of player with a separate role. On a team that’s filled with unselfish players, you need those guys who are willing to take shots and try to score at will. LB is that guy and that’s what Golden State needed off the bench. He isn’t the Jordan Crawford type of player to come in the game and cause chaos, but Barbosa had his moments whether they were good or ugly.
Reality: Barbosa is still one of the quickest players in the league with the ball in his hands, but his inability to finish near the basket hurts the team. He’s not a great defender by any means and Ron Adams has always challenged him to be better. In some ways, he’s a smaller Mo Speights. He doesn’t offer much on the defensive end of the ball and is brought into the game to provide an offensive spark. He isn’t a two-way player and won’t provide anything other than high energy and scoring. He had similar stats across the board this season as he did last year and played in two more games.
Going from the second best shooter of all-time in Klay Thompson to anyone else would be a hard match, but Barbosa tried his best to give the team what he could. He hasn’t and won’t cause any locker room issues and is a fan favorite. The Brazilian Blur had his hot and cold stretches where we saw Kerr play him as much as anyone, or place him in the doghouse. At times, there weren’t many guys on the team as unplayable as Barbosa. He had trouble defending several players across the league and was constantly beat due to his defensive gambles. On the flip side, he was one of the few players on the team that could create his own shot.
It’s hard to critic Barbosa, though. He’s one of the only players on the Warriors who showed up in the NBA Finals. In what was a series to forget for the 73-win team, he played well in Cleveland and at home. If there was any player who should have been stealing Harrison Barnes’ minutes during the Finals, it should have been Barbosa. He scored 8.2 points per game off the bench and shot 64 percent. Outside of Stephen Curry, he was the only Warrior to show up for Game 6 in Cleveland where he dropped a postseason high 14 points. He scored in double figures in 3 of the 6 games he played during the series. The matchup worked well in his favor, unfortunately he wasn’t able to get as much run as he deserved.
Future: At 33 years old, it’s going to be hard for him to get the money he’ll want in free agency. The journeyman is on the tail end of his career and it seems like he’s finally found a home in the Bay Area. I can see the Warriors bringing him back for cheap to have another scorer off the bench and some veteran leadership. Kerr has always been a big Barbosa guy, so look for him to get his friend back on the roster for the upcoming season (the draft selection of Patrick McCaw makes things interesting, though.) If the Warriors fill out the rest of the roster like they would want to, Barbosa might get the Brandon Rush role and rarely see the floor.