He of the insane horse medicine, Leandro Barbosa in his second season as a Golden State Warrior was once again a bench sparkplug on offense. As a player who made his name putting up points off the pine for the Phoenix Suns in the mid-2000s, he played that role well in the regular season and then turned on the jets during the bright lights of the postseason.
With Barbosa on the floor in the regular season, the Warriors outscored teams by 1.9 points per 100 possessions. The 6'3'' veteran was often the third or fourth player off the bench, replacing Stephen Curry or spelling Klay Thompson for a few minutes. Much of the time he'd reach on defense, gambling for steals; on the other end, Barbosa would jet around screens tiring out players a decade younger for midrange jumpers or to attack the basket. Sometimes he would play as the team's lead ballhandler, often finding Curry or Thompson coming off screens. But he made his living taking the ball from the backcourt all the way to the bucket for layups.
This season Barbosa played the most games in a season (68) since his 2008-2009 campaign, when he played 70. Although in the postseason his minutes dropped by almost four per game, he became much more efficient; the Warriors played better with him on the floor, the team's overall Net Rating rising from plus-3.1 in the regular season to plus-7.3 in the playoffs. He shot 58 percent from the field for the entire postseason. In the Finals Barbosa had the team's highest plus-minus at a preposterous plus-23, in 79 total minutes.
The former Sixth Man of the Year had his moment of glory in Game 1 of the Finals this season, when he scored 11 points on a perfect five-for-five shooting to help the Warriors to a 104-89 victory. Although the Warriors fell to the Cavaliers in seven games, Barbosa showed with his strong postseason that despite his age he can still play effectively, and has likely played his way into one more solid contract.
Barbosa is an unrestricted free agent this offseason, and it is likely (although not certain) that Golden State will let him go, especially with their steal of UNLV guard Patrick McCaw with the 38th pick and their chase of Kevin Durant. We'll see what happens with Durant, as that will probably be the defining factor as to whether the Warriors bring Barbosa back.
Stay tuned. The offseason is just getting started.
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