Originally Posted by joni
Jeez, the uniforms are still in the dryer. Too early for all that doom and gloom. Barbosa's a wiry little guy, built for speed and that's what they want from him. He's like Nash -- defense won't ever be his strong suit but who cares. Suns need to turn up the D but it's gotta come from the bigger boys.
Barbosa working on defense
The Arizona Republic
Oct. 10, 2006 12:00 AM COLOGNE, Germany - Leandro Barbosa's reaction time is even quick on a query.
Before you can ask Barbosa, "What do you want to improve this camp," the answer -"Defense" - spurts out as quickly as he moves on the court. And that's the problem.
Barbosa's limbs are too quick for his mind sometimes. He could be an excellent defender with his long arms and lightning legs, but he is out in front of himself too often.
"I've been jumping a lot on pick and rolls," Barbosa said. "(Assistant) Coach Dan (D'Antoni) said that as fast as I can go on offense, nobody should beat me (on defense). I've got to get better."
Therein lies the beauty of the man who leads the Suns in smiles induced. He set his future beyond need this summer with a five-year, $32 million contract, and he looks like a fan at Suns fantasy camp every practice.
His heart is as pure as his speed, as is his drive to earn his keep for the sake of the coaches he values like parents.
"To me, it's one of the key things you do as an organization," said D'Antoni, the assistant Barbosa entrusts for daily counsel and coaching. "Money is given to high-character guys. He's a high-character guy. Money will make his life easier, but it won't change him as a person."
It might change him as a player. Barbosa might not become the defender the Suns envision, but he will listen to every suggestion and carry out every drill to try to make it happen.
He is quick enough to overcome an opponent's initial move but he frequently jumps first, leaving an easily successful countermove for his foe.
"He can be great at everything because he's so good and so athletic," D'Antoni said.
Barbosa said he is eager for another playoff run, now feeling he has a grasp of what that entails.
Remember how he helped close out the Los Angeles Lakers in the first round by scoring 48 and hitting 17 of 21 shots in the series' final two games? That was a 23-year-old doing that.
Now more comfortably placed off the ball with Steve Nash, Barbosa also can still handle the point if the Suns want to deploy a quicker backcourt with Marcus Banks at shooting guard.
"I want to see who's going to guard us," Barbosa said. "This is what Coach (Mike) D'Antoni wants. This is what we like to do."
Banks has been taken aback more by Barbosa's personality than his wheels.
Barbosa makes the Suns happy on the court and with his humor. It could be calling new teammate Eric Piatkowski "Mike" instead of "Pike" or starting the wave in a hotel lobby.
"I feel the same way as when I came in my first year," Barbosa said. "I try to work hard every day I come to the court. I try to make everybody smile and laugh and joke. Be happy. Have fun with the moments we have. Just because I have a contract, nothing changes. It's a good life but you've got to make it fun.
"It's the way that I am. I had a different culture in Brazil. My family was always smiling and happy, with money or without money. I try to do my best so the players will be happy even when they're mad - even the coach."