Leandro Barbosa has been a bright spot for the Celtics this season. Signed late in the preseason for the veteran minimum, Barbosa has provided a scoring spark of the bench from the point guard position, averaging seven points per game in 14 minutes. After Sundays game where Barbosa scored 15 points in 11 minutes, Rivers and Barbosa spoke to the media about his offensive outburst (via WEEI):
“That’s my game,” Barbosa said. “I like to be aggressive every time I am on the court. Coach (Rivers) has been giving me a lot of confidence so every time I am there, I try to of course set up plays for my teammates, but if I see opportunities for me to score, I will score.”
Even Rivers finds himself looking on in astonishment at how quickly Barbosa can get going despite coming off the bench.
“We thought he was going to go for a (scoring) record in the first half,” Rivers said. “He’s a scorer. We don’t have a backup point right now, so when we put him in, we’re putting him in as a scorer.”
According to Rivers though, Barbosa has an impact even when he doesn’t score, he offered this following Fridays win over the Oklahoma City Thunder where Barbosa didn’t score a single point (via ESPN Boston):
“It’s funny, he didn’t score a point and I thought his defensive pressure was extremely effective tonight,” Rivers said after Friday’s game. “He has that reputation of being an offensive player. What we have found since getting him, he’s a heck of a defensive player. He has the ability to put pressure on the ball. That’s something we didn’t know.”
I don’t know about that. Rivers is right in that Barbosa can be a bit of a pest defensively when he pressures the ball, but that hasn’t resulted in any significant returns. Frankly, Barbosa is just not that good a defender. He’s posted a 110 DRTG so far this year (dead on for his career average), which would make him the worst among the Celtics guards. Barbosa has shown he’s willing to put in the effort on that end of the floor, but he’s still a minus defender no matter how hard he’s trying.
The important thing is that Barbosa knows his role. Many of the new Celtics have looked lost at times this year (particularly Courtney Lee, but also Terry and Green in spots), but Barbosa has one task, score. When Rivers clarified team roles before Friday’s game I’m certain he didn’t have to tell Barbosa what he needed to do. It doesn’t matter whom he’s sharing the floor with, Barbosa has one goal: put the ball in the basket. The Celtics have an embarrassment of riches at the guard position, and it’ll be interesting to see how everything shakes out once Avery Bradley returns.
Follow Jordan on Twitter: @OffensiveG