How Does Barbosa Help?

With the dust settling on the draft, Summer League and free-agency for the time being, the HQ takes a moment to look at the player Toronto acquired in the Hedo dump; Leandro Barbosa.

Last night, I realized that with all the madness in Raptor-land of late, there were still a few things that hadn't really been discussed.

For one, no "goodbye Hedo" post on the site.

Second, no breakdown of the player the Raptors obtained FOR the Ottoman.

The Hedo post is forthcoming, and since I'm still waiting on the official "good to post" word from the Raptors PR folks on my interview with Eric Hughes, I thought this morning we'd look at option number two.

First though, let's look at the current state of the Dinos' roster:

PG:  Jarrett Jack, Jose Calderon, Marcus Banks

SG:  DeMar DeRozan, Sonny Weems, Marco Bellineli

SF:  Linas Kleiza (presumably)

PF:  Amir Johnson, Ed Davis, Reggie Evans, Joey Dorsey

C:  Andrea Bargnani, Solomon Alabi, Dwayne Jones

It's a bit of a strange mix right now, with lots of options at the 1, 2 and 4, and very little at the 3 or 5.

Add in Barbosa, a 1/2, and it gets even more crowded.

Obviously Bryan Colangelo isn't done making up fake trades, and guys like Jones, Evans and Banks could easily be gone by October, but at present, this looks like a 30 win team to me.

Why?

Well there isn't a ton of experience on this team, the defence is still suspect at best, there is little quality depth at a few key spots, and without Bosh, the offence could sputter in various areas now.  (Especially regarding free-throw attempts.)

Looking at the latest post on Wages of Wins confirms this.

Considering that Toronto's club won 40 games last year, and is losing players responsible for about 13 wins while gaining back about only about 3 (Barbosa's WP average over his career), this doesn't look good.

Well...I guess "doesn't look good" depends on your perspective.

If you're hoping this team heads to the top of the lottery next year for some real help, than 30 games might even be too high for you.

In any event, the point of this post isn't really to debate Toronto's win total and level of success for next year, that will be done later in the off-season when all the pieces of the 2010-11 squad appear to be in place.  Moreso it's to see just what type of fit Leandro Barbosa could be for this team and if he'll provide any upside, aside of course from helping get rid of Colangelo's egregious Hedo signing.

So let's start by position.

Obviously, this on paper doesn't appear to be a great fit thanks to the logjam we've already discussed.

That being said, if Toronto can play small ball at times with Weems or DeRozan at the 3, then Barbosa could be a very interesting addition.  A Jack-Barbosa-Weems or even Barbosa-DeRozan-Weems back-court becomes a very athletic, speedy and difficult match-up for many teams, and one that Triano could quite effectively use to inject some life into a lackluster start, or to switch up the tempo.

As well, if both Jose Calderon and Marcus Banks are moved, a distinct possibility, then that would free up some much-needed room for Barbosa as well.

Regardless of line-ups and roster space however, let's look at the ways in which Leandro is most effective, and for that, we turn to Synergy Sports' Technology.

Looking at his offensive breakdown last year, the bulk of Barbosa's offence came from spot-up scoring, transition baskets and cuts to the hoop.  Aside from the spot-up part, these are all elements this Raptors' team could use more of on offense.

He rarely posted up, only ran 10% of his total offense off isolation plays, and did a good chunk of his scoring, whether the spot-up variety or cutting to the basket via hand-offs, off of screens. Essentially then, we're talking about a player who helps facilitate the flow of the offense, but is rarely an initiator except for off the break.

My worry then is that his game was too similar to that of Jarrett Jack or DeMar DeRozan, who he'll probably be sharing the back-court with a good chunk of the time.

However comparing the Synergy data, I'm not as concerned.

Jack had similar spot-up statistics, but rarely came off of screens for his scoring (this includes rarely rolling and cutting to the hoop.)  He also was not nearly the transition scorer last year that Barbosa was, and Jack was a much better force on isolations (24% of his offence) and initiating plays (26% of the time was the pick-and-roll ball handler.)

So maybe the fit isn't perfect, but Jack at the 1 with Barbosa at the 2 should be ok offensively.

Compared to DeMar, we see similar statistics.

Like Barbosa, DeMar did a good chunk of his scoring damage from spot-up J's, (32% in fact), but posted up more, worked in isolation a great deal more, and actually was the pick-and-roll ball-handler a good percentage of the time more than Barbosa.  (Which of course makes sense considering Barbosa played with a certain Mr. Steve Nash.)

DeRozan is also a much superior offensive rebounder than Barbosa, so a 1-2 DD and LB combo could prove effective as well.

However there's no question there are probably better fits out there, and I'd rather not see a new "triangle of death" form with all 3 playing together for extended periods.

Unfortunately on a team of mostly jump shooters and not shot-creators off the bounce, unless BC brings in someone of this ilk, Triano and co may be limited in terms of "most efficient line-up combinations."

On the defensive end, Barbosa is hardly a lock-down guy, but with his speed and length can be a nice pest in the passing lanes.  He's averaged 1.4 steals per game for his career, but could see that number rise with extended minutes on this Raptors' squad, especially if he's healthy.

And perhaps that's the biggest piece of this "how does Barbosa help?" equation.

Barbosa's stats last year were fairly pedestrian (just under 10 points, 2 rebounds and 2 assists per game.)  He shot only 32% from long-range, and 43% from the field, so was a bit of a brick-layer as well.

However he also played only 44 games due to injury and if he can return to his 2006 to 2008 form, suddenly this could be a nice piece of the puzzle for Bryan Colangelo.  During that time Barbosa averaged about 17 points, 3 rebounds and 3 assists while shooting 42% from 3-point land and nearly 47% from the field.  His PER was in the 17 range during that time, he rarely missed games, and had great offensive efficiency metrics across the board.  Simply put, he was the ideal sixth man to come in and inject some scoring punch and change of pace for a club.

For me, this acquisition was really about getting rid of Hedo's contract so like the Hoffa for Humphries move, getting anything back that can dribble a basketball is a plus.  If Barbosa is healthy and can get back to his 2008 ways (he is only 27 so quite possible) then this could be a nice little addition for TO.

I'm not expecting mountains moved, and he doesn't really help in a couple key areas the Raptors need major assistance with (he's averaged only about 2 free throws and 2 rebounds per game on his career), but as far as trades go, this one could be a lot worse and surrounded by the right pieces, Barbosa is the type of player you see making an major impact off the pine for winning clubs.

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