The Raptors Preview continues with a look at Leandro Barbosa, who was picked up in a trade with the Phoenix Suns this past off-season:
When it came time to dump Hedo Turkoglu this past summer, Bryan Colangelo was more than happy to bring in one of his former Suns. Now, let’s see if Leandro Barbosa works out a little better than Shawn Marion. When you think of it, Barbosa is actually a result of Marion coming to Toronto a couple seasons back — Colangelo dealt Jermaine O’Neal for Marion in February 2009, then signed Turkoglu with the cap space left after Marion jetted for Dallas, and what remains of the five-year, $53 million contract Turkoglu signed 15 months ago is now in Phoenix for the final two years and $17 million on Barbosa’s.
Barbosa was a huge beneficiary of the Mike D’Antoni and Steve Nash era in Phoenix, establishing himself as one of the league’s top second unit players and winning the Sixth Man Award in 2006-07 after averaging 18.1 points per game. His minutes and production have dropped in the four years since though, culminating in averages of just 9.5 points in 17.9 minutes under new head coach Elvin Gentry last year. Barbosa, who struggled with injuries and played in just 44 games, also saw his shooting percentages dip to career lows (42.5% from the field and 32.4% from deep, down from 48.2 and 37.5 in 2008-09).
Barbosa’s role in Toronto will be much like that in Phoenix — he’ll bring lightning quick speed and instant offense off the bench, wearing out opposing defenses and possibly mangling their knees in the process. After the year he had in 2009-10, though, he’ll need to prove he’s able to contribute consistently to have an impact on Raptors team loaded with young swingmen that figure more into the big picture. As an undersized shooting guard (6’3″), he’s capable and quick enough to shift to the point, but there aren’t many minutes to share with Jose Calderon and Jarrett Jack already holding court.
The best thing about Barbosa, of course, is that he’s not Turkoglu. Unless he starts blowing off games while “sick” and then hitting clubs the same night or goes and breaks his nose and whines about having to wear a face mask, he’s fine by me. It’ll also help if he regains some of that old magic from his Phoenix glory days, too.
2009-10: 44 games (five starts), 42.5% from the field, 32.4% from three and 87.7% from the line, 9.5 points, 1.6 rebounds, 1.5 assists and 0.52 steals in 17.9 minutes per game with Phoenix.
What to expect: It’s tough to say, since he’s in his first year in Toronto and coming off a rough season. Assuming he gets 20 minutes, Barbosa should be good for plenty of shots and double digit points off the bench. With the amount of guards in Jay Triano’s system, he’ll have to keep it consistent to find a role that’s steady from night-to-night.