Stats:| 18.4 MPG|7.5 PPG|1.9 RPG|1.6 APG|0.2 BPG|0.4 SPG|.427 FG%|.280 3P%
Leandro Barbosa, known by his nickname “The Brazilian Blur” came back to Phoenix to help fill the void left at guard by Eric Bledsoe’s injury. His first stint in Phoenix lasted from 2003 to 2010/ In that time, Barbosa played a critical role off the bench as a part of the exciting Suns teams of the mid 90’s. The peak of his role was 2006-07, when he captured the Sixth Man of the Year award. This time around, Barbosa was a mid-season acquisition and unfortunately. an injury prevented his participation on the 2013-2014 Suns squad from being very long.
Before joining the Suns, Barbosa was playing in his native Brazil. After spending some time with the Celtics (and Ryan McDonough) the previous year, he suffered a torn ACL in February, though one could barely see much of an effect while he was out of the NBA. On January 5, 2014, it was announced that the Suns would bring back the old fan favorite on a 10-day contract, ostensibly as Bledsoe insurance. Barbosa suited up and stepped onto the court only three days later against the Wolves, and he quickly made his presence felt. Unfortunately, the good period was short-lived. In February, he suffered a shoulder injury that forced him to sit out a few games, and played only one more game in full for Phoenix. On March 4, he suffered a broken hand in a loss to the Clippers, and with a six-week timetable, was unable to return for the Suns.
Barbosa put up a fair amount of double-digit scoring nights for the Suns, but his biggest flashback to his old self came on January 13, only his fourth game with the team. In a 98-96 loss to the New York Knicks, Barbosa scored 21 points, 14 of which came in the final quarter of play. He would go on to have more 10+ point games, but never topped that total throughout the season.
Leandro Barbosa has a reputation for being fast. Very fast. In 2013-2014, he showed that a knee injury wasn’t going to change that. He relies purely on the fact that he is probably faster than the other guy to get into the lane and score points. Barbosa fits perfectly on a team that likes to play fast and crazy ball while driving to the lane with regularity. His passing abilities weren’t as prominent as they once were, but he is still an adequate distributor. Barbosa was a veteran guard that filled some of the Suns’ needs sans Eric Bledsoe, and that’s exactly what the Suns wanted and needed.
As a seasoned veteran player, Barbosa didn’t make many improvements in his two months of playing. As a matter of fact, his numbers slipped month by month while he was on the team. That said, he showed early on that he wasn’t without those qualities that made him an effective NBA player over the past decade, and that age and injury will only slow a player down if they let it
Barbosa had difficulty with his outside shooting with the Suns last season. He’s never been a marksman, but a career 39 percent clip from behind the arc isn’t bad. In 2014, he shot 28 percent from behind the arc, adn made only seven threes. Barbosa is also a so-so defender, never making many big mistakes but not being a guy teams fear having to match up against. As a ten-year veteran, Barbosa likely is who he is at this point, but his previous history shows that his struggles were more significant than usual as a member of the Suns.
Future with the team
Barbosa’s future with the team is really up in the air. If he heals, there’s certainly an argument to be made that a veteran guard could do the Suns some good going forward, and that Barbosa is the guy for that role. On the other hand, it’s questionable whether Barbosa would be able to have a significant impact with the rest of the backcourt now at full strength. Whether he rejoins Phoenix or goes somewhere else, Barbosa has definitely given a second life to his NBA career.