Leandro Barbosa was the ideal weapon off the bench for the 2014-15 NBA Champion Warriors. He was a veteran guard that brought energy and fast-paced offense to go with efficient shooting, while at the same time playing high-effort defense on the other end.
This offseason, Bob Myers and the front office will be looking hard to find that same type of guard play to spell Steph Curry on the trade market or free agency. Though financial constraints may curtail that search.
Barbosa, who has recently joined the Warriors as an assistant coach, was asked on the Runnin Plays podcast if there is a younger player on the current roster that could possibly fill that void, and one name immediately came to his mind: Jordan Poole.
"He's hungry. Very hungry. I'm very interested about that kid," Barbosa said. "He's very young, there is a lot for him to learn, and we know that we are going to need him on the court. I worked a couple times with him. There's defensive things he needs to learn, also offensive things, because most of the times he was playing last year he was without Klay and Curry and a couple times with Draymond. When you see those three key players on the court, it's totally different than the way you played last year. So I'm interested to see that happen."
Barbosa already has started working with Poole, and also has turned to a current Warrior veteran to help guide the second-year player.
"I've been having him work with Klay [Thompson] a couple times this past week, and I like what I saw. I talked to Klay also to keep [Poole] on page and give some advice, and Klay's been doing that. Kind of the same thing that I was doing when I was here, I was talking so many times with Klay, and Klay was the guy I used to guard and now it is Jordan Poole. I said to him 'you have to do this now'."
Having a sharpshooter like Thompson work with Poole could, at the very least, help him find some consistency in his long-range shot. Poole shot a poor 28 percent from deep on the season, though he improved considerably towards the tail end of the year when his playing time increased.
Coming into the league as a 20-year-old rookie, most assumed his ability to hit shots from 3-point range was going to be his bread and butter.
Barbosa sees that potential still saying "I'm sure he is capable to come up and kind of score, he has a really good shot from 3-point [distance]."
The pressures and expectations for a first-round pick, whether fair or not, can be high. A majority of the time, these rookies were used to being the featured player in high school and college. That adjustment to a much lesser role can be hard, and Barbosa saw how it affected Poole.
"I think the main thing he's got to work on, is that he's angry. He used to get angry so many times, and I saw several times him doing that," Barbosa added.
"He's young, he needs someone to talk to him and explain to him that the business is not like that, and he's been having the big opportunity of his life, and I need to show him what the business is about, and as he learns that and understands that, everything will come easy," Barbosa said.
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"I had that when I was a rookie, because things weren't going my way, as it was when I was in Brazil. It's a different situation when you come to the NBA, I'm sure it is for him too. He wants to score, he wants to do this and that, but it's not how it is, you know, with this team."
"It's a couple things, a couple details, that he's got to learn, and I'm here for this. Hopefully I can help that kid, because he's a talent."