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Season Review: Leandro Barbosa and the Structural Familiarity of GSW

Leandro Barbosa was good at times last season. Bad in others. All together, he came back to the Golden State Warriors because the result necessitated the comfort of familiarity.

Bob Donnan-USA TODAY Sports

The Bay Area is the hub of startup culture, one that necessitates and even promotes the cycle of revolving doors.

Find one job, work 65 hours a week, drink a lot of beer before, during, and after those hours, and make a lot of money in the meantime. After 15 months, whether or not that new innovation you all thought would definitely "blow up" did or not, it's likely time to move on, find a new place to drink IPAs, work 65 hours a week in front of a screen, and play ping pong during lunch. There's nothing that exhibits that type of want for the betterment of oneself more than the structural shift of basketball teams year in and year out.

The Golden State Warriors are trying to buck that trend while buoyed by the success of the last several seasons, culminating with the first championship since that one racist old guy won one four decades ago. So this one really is the title all fans will cling to as the only real championship for the Warriors in their franchise.

It shouldn't be a surprise, then, that the Warriors brought back Leandro Barbosa for another season despite the entirely mediocre and, at times, below-average performance Barbosa trudged through during the regular and postseason. At times he was unplayable and benched for entire second halves and games because of the below-par defense and the questionable shot selection. But those are the specific personal results that we are so versed in deciphering and understanding.

Barbosa wasn't the most vocal person in the locker room. Although he was known for the "We Gonna Be Championship" quote and the background shrieks in the Coco IG videos, you would barely notice him in the locker room. But what stood out was the beacon of positivity on and off the bench Barbosa provided to players. First one off the bench, gleefully launching the 3PT arm cannons, and never holding his head down, Barbosa provided the type of atmosphere Kerr appreciated and knew from his days as a Phoenix Sun. Draymond Green provided the toughness and swag but Barbosa promoted and held the quiet confidence that the Warriors became known for as last season progressed.

As a coach, Steve Kerr went further into delineating Barbosa's performance strictly from a process v. results standpoint. He often praised him in postgame conferences for coming in off the bench and injecting not just points but the ability to get an offense running when the tempo can slow to a crawl against certain teams. Simple maneuvers like catching a ball a few feet away from the halfcourt line than directly under your own basket and starting from a running position can drastically change the timing of an entire possession. Kerr found the little things to praise because he understood what it took to have such a touch-and-go offense hum.

And so often, Barbosa's game didn't hum. It's no disrespect to him. He's past his prime now and unable to tone down his game to make compatible with his declining features on defense and even the extra step past a defender. He doesn't set up teammates on offense so much as throw up a shot at the basket hoping he gets fouled or a big man cleans up the miss. And yet, his return makes sense for a team that prides and is starting to recognize itself as something akin to the San Antonio Spurs, one that connotes familiarity and the base definition of a team.

It started with Bob Myers and Joe Lacob keeping Klay Thompson and the suffocating wing defense together in lieu of the Kevin Love trade rumors. It has permeated through the entire season as the Warriors promoted Luke Walton as the assistant head coach when Alvin Gentry left. It has not had a typical coalescing point but there were certainly better, and more potentially gifted 3-and-D wing players like Wesley Johnson, Alan Anderson, and the rest of the veteran's minimum guys.

Instead, the Warriors are content with what they have now, the team and core that just ran through the regular season and the playoffs without so much as a bump in the road. Everyone has written this ad nauseam as we trudge into the dog days of the offseason but the Warriors are where they are now because of who they are and who they've decided to emulate. Continuity is the flavor of success and here are the Golden State Warriors now, unafraid to keep their veterans because they trust in the little things that make championship teams.

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