All week the HQ will be reaching out to fellow bloggers for some insight on the newest members of the team. Today, we kick things off with a little help from Bright Side of the Sun, as Raptors HQ takes another look at Leandro Barbosa...
We've said it before and we'll say it again, one of the best things about being part of the SB Nation basketball platform is the wealth of knowledge in tow, knowledge that's readily accessible whenever the need should arise.
With what appears to be a bit of a lull in Raptors' news, we thought this week therefore would be a good time to get some further insight on some of the newest Dinos with help from our blogging partners across the SB Nation network.
To this end, post Hedo Turkoglu trade, we reached out to Seth Pollack of Bright Side of the Sun to get his take on one of the newest Raptors.
Here were his thoughts:
I won't cover what everyone already knows about LB. His speed, ability to attack off the dribble and get into the lane and three-point shooting.
What we've come to learn about Barbosa is that his lack of court vision and creative passing has really limited his offensive game. He's super quick but doesn't play above the rim so defenses have learned to collapse on him and contest his shot by standing tall. LB almost never finds the open man once he puts his head down which means his counter against good help defense is to initiate contact and hope for a whistle and/or throw the ball high off the glass at some odd angle and hope it goes in.
He's a streaky mid-range shooter who can get hot and be unstoppable at times but he generally needs significant minutes to get into that kind of rhythm. That means he needs to be playing 20 to 25 minutes per game to be most effective which creates other problems since he's a defensive liability at either the two or one. He'll get the occasional steal but he never developed any kind of instincts for team defense and will require a lot of work to pick up complex rotation schemes.
The lack of defense, the inability to run a team as a true point and the need to play consistent, big minutes really have made Leandro's role in the NBA a bit complicated. Because of his size, it's hard to play him big minutes off-the-ball which negates a lot of his spot-up shooting. He needs the ball in his hands and isn't likely to give it up willingly.
He clearly benefits from playing in a system that values speed and scoring over discipline and execution.
He's a great guy, one of the nicest you'll meet, but he's not a competitive leader type and has a reputation for being a bit soft when it comes to physical contact and playing through pain. Hopefully, the change of scenery will do him good but this deal seems more about the Raptors getting rid of Hedo than really adding a valuable player.
I followed this up by asking Seth about Barbosa's iso-game. As we discussed in the first post on the topic, the Synergy stats plus his two free-throws a game seemed to indicate that he wasn't someone who constantly took guys off the bounce. I wondered if his speed simply allowed him to get to the rim untouched, or most of his work at the hoop was done off of fast-breaks thereby negating free-throws.
He either beats his man and pulls up for a mid-range J or gets in the lane and hopes. He's not a great finisher with contact so he basically is just tossing things high off the glass. Some go in. Many don't.
Back in this prime when he was putting up big numbers, the Suns were running a TON and he got a lot of open court transition buckets but recently the Suns slowed down to a more reasonable (still fast) pace and he didn't get as many of those open looks. When he was on the floor with Nash, they also almost always connected for a back door cut at least once per game but like I said, it's hard to play him at the 2 for long.
Based on this, I then thought it would benefit to take a look at some pace statistics from the Colangelo regime.
My first assumption was that the team played slower under Sam Mitchell than under Jay Triano but the stats don't bear that out. In all four years of Colangelo-ball, the team had a pace rating of about 92, good for about middle of the pack in the league.
The team's slowest year was Sam Mitchell's second in charge, which is surprising because the team still had TJ Ford and Jose Calderon running the show. I expected the next season with the JO experiment to take the cake in terms of "plodding along" but that was not the case.
But as Seth noted in his final correspondence with me on the subject:
Pace is a funny number...what it comes down to is how you attack early in the clock. In Suns run and gun days when LB was putting up big numbers they were pulling up / spotting up for an open three in transition. LB would get open looks like that. The Suns don't play that way anymore but still play fast. Not sure how the Raptors will play. Also remember in his day, LB was the 3rd guard in a 3 guard rotation so he got a ton of minutes.
I would want to understand the Raptors rotation and who he's on the floor with and how they play. That to me would be the key. If you are expecting him to be an effective backup PG who runs the offense...that didn't work so well.
It's a solid point.
Really, pace matters little in the grand scheme of things as long as you're executing to your strengths.
That may mean early shot-clock attempts ala the Suns in the "7 seconds or less" days.
Or that may mean late in the clock in a grind-it-out Boston Celtics style.
For Toronto, I'm not sure either is a natural fit at this point, but for Barbosa and co. to be as effective as possible next season, the burden lies on Triano and his staff to figure out the best offensive mix possible.