The 2013 NBA offseason has had major signings, including big-name players like Dwight Howard, Paul Pierce, Kevin Garnett and Andre Iguodala. Each of these signings have made the respective teams championship contenders.
The bold, yet certainly possible outcome: Iguodala is the signing of the offseason and will help the Golden State Warriors be one of the top teams in the Western Conference for many seasons to come. Before getting into why the Iguodala signing trumps the others, let’s look at why the other signings fall short.
The Brooklyn Nets had a respectable starting lineup, featuring Deron Williams, Joe Johnson, Gerald Wallace and Brook Lopez. They added to their roster Paul Pierce, Kevin Garnett and Andrei Kirilenko, and brought back long-time New Jersey fan-favorite Jason Kidd as their head coach.
These acquisitions make the Nets significantly more competitive. Unfortunately for Brooklyn, the East belongs to Miami and all other teams are competing for second place. LeBron James is in the prime of his career and looking to win more championships, while the entire Nets roster is hoping for one last push. With very little chance dethrone Miami, the Nets have a ridiculous payroll funding diminishing talent.
Dwight Howard makes the Houston Rockets one of the better teams in the West, but his proneness to injury and unwillingness to adapt to play styles will have Houston regretting their decision when he leaves in a few sasons.
Dwight is looking for teammates who space the floor and give him significant room down low. James Harden makes a living by actively attacking the rim, which also gives him the spacing to shoot the three-pointer.
Omer Asik is a great center due to his ability to hustle off-ball and create second-chance opportunities but Howard differs in his approach. He demands the ball, which will deprive Harden, Chandler Parsons and Jeremy Lin the ability to attack the basket and ultimately the space they receive for the three-ball.
Guards who attack the basket thrive in the pick-and-roll. Howard played with the best pick-and-roll point guard of this generation, Steve Nash, and was generally ineffective. Dwight’s effectiveness essentially dies five feet from the rim. With the pick-and-pop a non-factor and Howard hating the pick-and-roll, Harden and Lin will have a season to lament Dwight ever coming to Houston.
The Los Angeles Clippers have legitimate championship aspirations with their offseason pickups. They bolstered their bench with the Darren Collison and J.J. Redick and brought in a championship coach. Yet despite their offseason moves, they still have not addressed their weaknesses.
The Clippers have a great starting forward in Blake Griffin but otherwise lack talent and depth in their frontcourt. DeAndre Jordan is an average center at best. Unfortunately for the Clippers, their lack of a competitive frontcourt burned them in their playoff series against the Memphis Grizzles. It does not look much better for them in 2013-14.
Finally, we get to the Golden State Warriors. Their Iguodala signing was overlooked by many due to the blockbuster signings mentioned above. But the Warriors have sneakily become one of the top three teams in the West.
Golden State’s biggest deficiency last season was their inability to finish games. This became drastically obvious and detrimental during the playoffs as the Warriors gave away huge leads during the final minutes of multiple games.
Iguodala brings the Warriors a veteran presence that has ample playoff experience. Iguodala single-handedly (nearly) crushed the Warriors in Game 3 of the first round with lockdown defense and clutch shooting in the final minutes. Though he is approaching the end of his prime, Iguodala will provide the Warriors with the calm playmaking ability needed during close games.
The Warriors had a respectable defense last season, but Iguodala elevates to the elite cateogory. Iguodala has the ability to guard nearly four positions at an elite level. Klay Thompson and Iguodala give the Warriors the best wing defenders in the league, and with Andrew Bogut manning the paint, there doesn’t look to be a starting lineup with the defensive prowess of the Warriors.
Iguodala is an aggressive slasher, and his playmaking ability trumps Jarrett Jack’s. Additionally, his size and court vision is a direct upgrade from Jack if he is ever called to play the point guard position.
Iguodala’s signing does not come with many cons for the Warriors. Despite losing Jack and Carl Landry, Golden State is a better team than they were last season. The Warriors directly addressed and resolved their major concerns (late-game execution and backup playmaking). They were a few plays away from a possible trip to the Western Conference Finals in 2013, and in 2014, expect the Warriors to reach that goal and quite possibly get to the NBA finals.