Leandro Barbosa has 10 NBA seasons under his belt and will be turning only 32 during the upcoming 2014-15 season. Barbosa has a connection to Nuggets Head Coach Brian Shaw as he was a trade deadline pickup by Indiana in 2011-12. (A little off topic, but incidentally, that was the same trade deadline when our Nuggets traded for JaVale McGee). Barbosa left the Pacers as a free agent to sign with the Boston Celtics. On February 12th, 2013 Leandro Barbosa tore the ACL in his left knee. Barbosa would not play in the NBA again until January 8th, 2014 when the Phoenix Suns signed him. One of Barbosa’s best games in his return to the NBA was against, yep you guessed it, our Denver Nuggets. “The Brazilian Blur” was slowed by a shoulder sprain and stopped by a broken hand but showed he still had quick his feet.
The Denver Nuggets currently have a roster with 10 guaranteed contracts, 1 contract (Quincy Miller) that will likely become guaranteed on opening day and 2 contracts (Nate Robinson and Darrel Arthur) that have player opt ins that will likely be accepted. That leaves the Denver Nuggets with 2 open roster spots. One of those spots is already earmarked for whomever the #11 draft pick is going to be. In last year’s draft the Denver Nuggets had two draft picks, neither of which saw a minute of NBA action. Actually, 15 of 30 NBA 2013 2nd round draft choices never played in the NBA last season. The 2014 NBA draft is considered to be much deeper than last season but you will excuse me if I don’t get excited about the prospects of one of the Nuggets upcoming 2nd round draft picks emerging to snag a roster spot in 2014-15. Enter “The Brazilian Blur” Leandro Barbosa.
I know in a previous article I mentioned last year’s top Denver Nuggets draft pick, 46th overall Erick Green, as a possible contender for minutes in the upcoming season. Leandro Barbosa would be an excellent insurance policy. Paired with either Ty Lawson or Nate Robinson, the combined speed of Denver’s back court would be amongst the fastest. When reading that statement, please remember that Barbosa would be the third option at the shooting guard spot and still make the Nugget back court one of the fastest in the league. With his recent rash of injuries, salary demands will likely be just above league minimums. If the Nuggets do as I predict and draft a shooting guard this NBA draft, I do not foresee Barbosa as a roadblock to the rookie. I see Barbosa as a challenge to Evan Fournier to raise his game. Win-win situation!