Season Stats: 58 GP, 24.1 MPG, 13.3 PPG, 45 FG%, 33.8 3PT%, 79.6 FT%, 2.1 APG, 1.7 RPG, 0.9 SPG
Career Stats: 524 GP, 25 MPG, 12.7 PPG, 46.5 FG%, 39.2 3PT%, 82.4 FT%, 2.5 APG, 2.3 RPG, 1 SPG
Leandro Barbosa arrived in Toronto with the promise of a rebirth or renewal north of the border. The Brazilian Blur had contributed to contending Suns teams for seven seasons, including winning the Sixth Man of the Year award for the 2006-2007 season. However, wrist surgery limited his games played and minutes in his seventh and final season in Phoenix, and Barbosa struggled through his worst season in five years.
To the delight of Raptors fans far and wide, Barbosa was given a chance to regain his award-winning form in Toronto. Even better, the speedy guard was acquired in a trade that rid the Raptors of Hedo Turkoglu’s atrocious contract.
With Barbosa looking as good as advertised and leading the Raptors through a decent pre-season, the stage was set for him to make a significant impact for the young Raptors. Unfortunately, a wrist injury sustained in the final pre-season game limited Barbosa once again.
Barbosa missed 24 games this season, but what’s important is how he fared in the 58 games he did play, and whether or not he can contribute next season, should he elect to pick up his $7.6 million player option for the 2011-2012 season (I can’t see why he wouldn’t take that option).
While some saw Barbosa’s season as a minor disappointment, it’s interesting to see that he actually finished with a better scoring average than his career average. Having said that, Barbosa was nowhere near the guard who scored between 14 and 18 points off of the bench for three straight seasons in Phoenix.
If it wasn’t for his wrist, he may have been.
If the pre-season was any indication, Barbosa was ready to break out again with the Raptors. And when you look at the fact that his shooting numbers were down across the board, compared to his career averages, you’d have to assume that the troubled wrist is what affected Leandro’s stroke. Consider that Barbosa shot over 46 per cent for five straight seasons before his wrist troubles intervened last year.
Barbosa’s biggest problem this season was his struggle with consistency. When he was on, he was a fantastic game-changer off of the bench, who sparked the young Raptors to some impressive victories, like their franchise record comeback in Detroit. But when he was off, he sometimes looked like a confused and hesitant rookie.
If it really was just the wrist that caused the problems, then one would have to hope that an off-season of rest, and possibly surgery, can cure the Blur. But if Barbosa plays for his native Brazil in this summer’s 2011 FIBA Americas, and doesn’t give his wrist the rest it needs, then this past season may have been his best, or simply his first and last, in Toronto.
The conundrum for Bryan Colangelo, assuming there is NBA basketball next season, is determining whether Barbosa will be healthy enough to contribute at a level that is worth $7.6 million of valuable cap space for a young team.
I know there are doubts out there, and rightfully so, but given the fact that next season would be the final year of his contract, I don’t see the risk in keeping Barbosa around. If he continues to struggle, whether on the floor or with injuries, then the Raptors can walk away after next season. But if he returns to his old form, Barbosa, still only 28, could become a key part of the Raptors’ future core going forward, or could become a valuable asset in a trade.
For one year and $7.6 million, I’d rather keep him around and find out which Barbosa shows up.
Scott Carefoot’s take on Leandro Barbosa:
Let’s face it — Barbosa could have sat out the entire season because of his wrist injury and most Raptors fans would still feel like we came out ahead because he replaced that bum, Hedo Turkoglu. When he did play, Barbosa was the quintessential NBA sixth man — inconsistent, not much help on the defensive end, but a tremendous spark off the bench at times who could score points in bunches when he was in a groove. If he returns to the Raptors next season as expected, a healed-up wrist will hopefully mean a return to his deadly three-point shooting form from the 2005-06 to 2008-09 seasons when he jacked up 4.5 treys per game and made 41 percent of them. If the Raptors get that version of Barbosa next season, it’s highly unlikely they’ll finish dead last in the league in three-point shooting percentage again.
That’s three player evaluations down (I did Ajinca and Alabi last week) and 12 still to go as we navigate through this Raptors off-season. Next up will be the “enigma of all enigmas,” so look out for a Bargnani evaluation in the next couple of days.