An Amare/Shaq/Nash Respite: What to do With Leandro Barbosa

Shaq, Amare, Nash. I don’t know about the rest of you, but I’m sick of hearing about them. Shaq’s old and is about to be traded, Amare’s young, with bad knee(s), a big mouth, and Nash, is well, attempting to force his way into the front office?

So, instead of talking about Lopez and Amundson's hair, or Alando's acting debut, or how Goran's family didn't own a cigar shop, I'd like to create a conversation about Leandro Barbosa. That is, what do we do, if anything, with the blur.

As I look at Leadndrinho’s career stat’s the first thing that jumps out at me is minutes played. For his career, Leandro has averaged 25.9 MPG. And in those 25.9 MPG’s Leandro has averaged the following:

47% FG
40% 3P%
82% FT
12.9 PPG

In the 2006-7 season Barbosa made 190 3-pointers (43%) which was good for 5th in the league (below Raja Bell and others) while taking home the 6th Man of the Year award. That year He played in 80 games, averaged 4 assists a game (a career high) yet also amassed a career high in turnovers: 146. He followed up that performance by playing in 82 games in 2007-8 making 164 threes at a slightly lower 38%. lists comparable players at the same age to BJ Armstrong. Basketball reference lists the following similar players based on their criteria:

Maurice Williams
J.R. Smith
Mike James
Tony Delk
Mike Dunleavy
Kyle Korver
Ronald Murray
Raymond Felton

Not a list of superstars. Of course, I have doubts about these comparison's and wonder how valid or worthless they are in comparing the value of players.

So where am I going with this? We know Barbosa's strengths-speed, finishing, shooting ability, and of course he is just a nice guy and excellent teammate. But as we all know, Leandro can’t play defense consistently-he’s undersized for a shooting guard and he makes too many mistakes to be a full time point guard. The numbers suggest that if he was going to be some kind of superstar, it would have happened already.  He’s signed until 2011-2012. In 2008-2009 he made $6 million, and that will increase this season to $7.1 million. He certainly won’t start over Nash this year, and with Goran being groomed as the heir apparent (and that’s no guarantee), what role is Leandro going to play with the Suns moving forward?  It is certainly possible that Leandro could learn how to play some defense and become that point guard we all want him to be. But how likely is that? This will be his sixth year in the league. How much more improvement can we expect to see out of him. And when will he begin to be a consistent injury risk (if he isn't already), enough so that his trade value will plummet to nothing?

As much as I hate to admit it, I wonder if it’s time to sell high on Leandro. His production likely won’t increase because his minutes likely won’t increase unless there is a trade or injury. Sure he could be a career sixth man, but is he worth it? Could the money be better spent somewhere else?

So the next question obviously is what do you get for Leandro in this market? Well, I could be wrong, but not a whole lot. He’s a quality NBA player, but not a superstar. Perhaps an early first rounder and a throw in?


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