Is Andre Iguodala enough to push the Golden State Warriors over the top? Well, it depends on your definition of over the top.
Are the Warriors a better team now that they have Igoudala in their starting lineup? Absolutely. Igoudala’s abilities as a playmaker and perimeter stopper represent significant upgrades over Harrison Barnes or Klay Thompson, one of whom he’ll likely replace in the starting lineup.
Is Iggy enough to make the Warriors legitimate contenders for the NBA title? That depends.
With the addition of Igoudala, the 2013-14 Warriors will likely have one of the most well-rounded starting lineups in the NBA. There aren’t a lot of skill-related weaknesses in the team’s six-man core — Stephen Curry, Thompson, Barnes, Igoudala, David Lee and Andrew Bogut — all of whom have either high ceilings or All Star pedigrees.
Igoudala represents an obvious defensive improvement on the wing, and although Golden State will miss Jarrett Jack and Carl Landry’s shared ability to hit mid-range jumpers, Iggy is better suited for a more efficient offensive game plan that puts a greater emphasis on scoring at the rim or beyond the arc.
Curry will bring the ball up the floor with Iggy and either Barnes or Thompson on the wings. Even though he’ll never be considered a primary scoring option, the tandem of Curry and Thompson would likely create ample floor space for Igoudala, who is widely regarded as one of the best cutters in the league.
If head coach Mark Jackson opts to play a larger lineup with Igoudala and Barnes, Golden State will be better able to attract fouls on post-ups and score at the rim – something they lacked during stretches last season.
As for the high-flying small ball lineup featuring Curry, Barnes, Thompson, Igoudala with David Lee/Andrew Bogut at center?
The question now is whether that puts them in the same league as the San Antonio Spurs, Oklahoma City Thunder, Houston Rockets or Los Angeles Clippers, all of which have very legitimate claims to being preseason favorites in the Western Conference. I wouldn’t put it past the Memphis Grizzlies, Denver Nuggets and (hell, who knows with anymore?) Los Angeles Lakers to put up a fight.
One of Golden State’s greatest strengths last year was its bench, which ranked fifth in field goal percentage, sixth in rebounds and seventh in free-throw attempts, according to hoopstats.com. Even though those units notched a negative point differential over the season, they did keep it within reach of the starters, who outscored opponents by 3.1 points per game.
Although Igoudala is capable of playing the point on occasion, Jack remains a more attractive option (on offense) as a backup point guard. They will have to settle for Toney Douglas, though.
As for the frontcourt, with Festus Ezeli out with a knee injury, it’s unclear how the Warriors would respond if Bogut were to go down with yet another injury to his wheel. Marreese Speights is a solid backup at power forward (he averaged 18.2 points and 10.7 rebounds per 36 minutes in Cleveland, per basketball-reference.com), but it’s unclear of Jermaine O’Neal can be a viable backup.
Andre Igoudala is a great player and a significant upgrade, but it remains to be seen whether that alone will enough bring a banner back to Golden State.