After the Pacers acquired Leandro Barbosa at the trade deadline, I was a little confused. With Darren Collison, Paul George, George Hill, AJ Price and, at times, Lance Stephenson all receiving minutes, where did Larry Bird expect Leandro to fit in.
Well, now we know, according to Mike Wells of the Indianapolis Star.
Frank Vogel is changing the rotation. Leandro Barbosa is in as the backup shooting guard. George Hill is now the backup point guard. A.J. Price is the third point guard. Barbosa will make his Pacers debut against the Clippers tomorrow. “(Barbosa will play) anywhere between 15-20 minutes,” Vogel said. “He picked up a lot of our basic offensive sets today pretty quickly. We’ll see how he’s going and we’ll adjust it when he’s out there.”
This certainly makes some sense.
Barbosa has five times the resume of Price and Stephenson so he should naturally be ahead of them in the rotation. It does, however, mean moving Hill to the point. He has always been touted as a combo guard who can play both spots. He filled in admirably for an injured Tony Parker at times in San Antonio and was so successful that their was a legitimate fan movement to trade away the more expensive, less-defensive-minded French starter and hand the team over to Hill. And these aren’t crazy Heat fans who just starting watching the NBA a year ago. No, these were Spurs fans who through the osmosis of watching Coach Popovich and Tim Duncan alone usually know what they’re talking about at least somewhat.
Still, so far in Indiana, when Hill has been at his best, he has played the two almost exclusively. So it isn’t a question of whether he can handle shifting over to the point, but whether by doing so, he will lose a little bit of what has made him the team’s best player off the bench this season and the MVP of, by my memory, at least 5 of its wins.
Then again, the team is reeling from two tough losses to the Knicks and, other than that two-game win streak last week, hasn’t had a ton of wins over good teams to get excited about. Perhaps this is the answer. There is no question that Barbosa can add some scoring punch to a second unit that badly needs it.
I suppose the only question is whether the scoring upgrade the reserves get from going from Price to Barbosa will supersede the potential downgrade of putting the team’s best bench scorer all year into a distributor role? Or perhaps I’m thinking too much like it is 1994 and positions still matter. It’s hard to presume that Hill can continue to be as willing to call his own number and aggressive when it will also be his responsibility to ensure that Tyler gets his touches and Barbosa gets his open looks. But point guards like Derrick Rose and Russell Westbrook have sort of re-defined the mold of how effective a high-volume scoring floor general can be.
So rather than keep over-thinking this, let’s just see if having two guards who have proven they can score off the bench is better than having just the one. It is a pretty simple game after all.