Leandro Barbosa is going to be a Celtic, and I think I speak for most fans when I say “Huh. I’ve heard of that guy.”
I’m just kidding, of course. Barbosa is an excellent addition, one that will fill out Boston’s guard rotation nicely, a shooter who can fill in gaps in the lineup and run the floor with Rondo. Jordan outlined how Barbosa fits into the rotation yesterday, so I’ll focus my energies elsewhere: what we should and shouldn’t expect on the court from the Brazilian shooting guard.
For those of you who don’t remember, Barbosa most recently played with the Indiana Pacers after being traded midseason by the Raptors for virtually nothing. Synergy Sports only has Barbosa’s stats with the Pacers, but his efficiency stats line up nicely between his time with Indiana to his career stats, so we will still use his Indiana Synergy stats. Just keep in mind as you read that all stats are from a relatively small sample size, 33 games in all (22 regular season, 11 playoff).
First the bad news, because it’s always nicer to end on happy notes: Barbosa is not a point guard. Basketball junkies may recall that Barbosa played backup to Steve Nash at point guard in Phoenix, which is how his incorrect classification as a “combo guard” came about, along with his shortish stature at 6’3, but Phoenix soon decided that Barbosa was best utilized at shooting guard, which is where he has made a relatively successful pro career.
His assist percentages are directly in line with other shooting guards (13.3%), and his assist to turnover ratio per 36 minutes is 2.7/2.1. Those aren’t bad numbers by any means, but they aren’t point guard numbers either.
Also of note: Barbosa is atrocious in the P&R as a ball handler. Indiana used him as a P&R Ball Handler on 25.5% of Barbosa’s plays, and he produced just 0.45 PPP, and turned the ball over 18.2% of the time. Those numbers are FAR below any kind of level of acceptable efficiency. Barbosa was slightly better but still bad in isolation, averaging just 0.58 points per possession and turning the ball over 15.2% of the time.
So why are we all justifiably excited that Barbosa will be coming off the bench for Boston? Because as long as Doc doesn’t play him at point guard, he has the potential to be a lethal scorer off the bench. Barbosa was very productive in transition, averaging 1.14 PPP, even playing with a point guard (Darren Collison) whose PER and assist percentages were FAR below Rondo’s.
Barbosa was also very good in Off Screen and Spot-Up plays, many of which resulted in 3-pointers. On spot-up opportunities, Barbosa averaged 1.02 PPP, where he took well over half his 3-point attempts, while coming off screens, he averaged 0.96 PPP and hit 47% of his 3-pointers.
That’s a lot of numbers in a very short space, and basically, they should tell you that if you are expecting Barbosa to be a backup for Rondo, you are going to be disappointed. But the Celtics can easily utilize him elsewhere, since Terry can both handle and pass the ball. Both Pierce and Rondo can handle the ball as well, if they are playing with the second unit.
What’s funny about Barbosa’s stats is how similar they are to a certain not-so-dearly departed shooting guard. Both are good shooters who play very well in spot-up and off-screen plays, but neither should be handling the ball very much, if you don’t like turnovers and bad passes. After we spent an entire summer telling ourselves that the Celtics weren’t trying to replace Ray Allen with a poorer man’s Ray Allen, they went ahead and did it anyway for a fraction of the price. Kudos to Danny Ainge, once again, for a job well done.
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