One of the most exciting international players to ever suit up for an NBA team, Leandro Barbosa became a fan favorite in Phoenix for his blazing speed and acrobatic finishes.
Nicknamed the “Brazilian Blur”, he made an immediate impact as a rookie, setting Suns franchise records for points in his first career start and consecutive games with a 3-pointer — the latter since shattered many times over.
After that first season, Barbosa was moved to a bench role where he thrived for the next six seasons in the team’s up-tempo offense. Barbosa was enough of a ball-handler to run the offense himself occasionally. Other times, he played alongside Steve Nash or other point guards as the 2-guard.
Despite coming off the bench, Barbosa was able to put up solid point totals, averaging 18.1 points per game in 2006-07, despite starting just 18 of his 80 games. For that feat, he was awarded the NBA’s Sixth Man of the Year award. In all, Barbosa averaged double-digit scoring in four of his six seasons off the bench with the Suns.
While his minutes were not consistent and the bench units he played with waxed and waned, Barbosa’s offensive contributions were always solid. He put up 8.2 win shares in his award-winning 2006-07 season. In total, he amassed 28.4 win shares over his entire Suns career.
In the 2010 offseason, Barbosa was traded to the Toronto Raptors in a deal for forward Hedo Turkoglu, setting off six team changes in seven years for the guard. Yet even with all the movement, Barbosa brought the same game-changing speed to every stop.
In 2014, his former Suns general manager Steve Kerr brought Barbosa in to join the Golden State Warriors as a veteran off the bench. He helped bring the Warriors an NBA Champions in 2014-15.
In 2016-17, he joined the Suns one last time for his final NBA season, averaging 6.3 points in 14.4 minutes per game. He then returned to his native Brazil where he still suits up for Minas Tênis Clube. Barbosa ended his Suns career with 28.4 win shares and was the franchise’s fourth Sixth Man of the Year award winner.