One of the most impressive things you immediately notice about Andre Iguodala’s career stats is that he has averaged 4.9 assists over his nine years in the NBA. He is noted for being able to bring the ball up the court and run the offense, and in his last year with the Denver Nuggets, he averaged 5.4 assists.
Iguodala’s career high in the assist department came in the 2009-10 season, where he managed to dish out an average of 6.3 dimes per game, along with 14.1 points and 5.8 rebounds.
So, if he is so great at passing and doesn’t commit too many turnovers (averaging 2.4 over his career, though that statistic is slightly skewed by one particularly clumsy season) why would the Golden State Warriors want to keep him away from the point guard position?
Well, like most other basketball questions, the answer is not simple, but in a nutshell: poor shooting out of the isolation and his inability to be the ball-handler in pick-and-roll sets.
Before I get into the dissection of Iguodala’s foibles as the main ball-handler, I think that his career assist numbers do count for something, and I still think he can viable option to bring the ball up in certain situations, but in no way do I think he can necessarily handle more complex plays like the “Elevator Doors” play that the Warriors like to run. If coach Mark Jackson wants to use Iguodala in the point guard capacity, he will need to tailor the offense to someone who doesn’t have the same abilities as Stephen Curry.
With all that being said, let’s look at the two glaring weaknesses in Iguodala’s game:
If you watched Iguodala closely during the Warriors-Denver Nuggets series in Round 1, you could probably spot this weakness yourself. In numerous instances, he would find himself matched up against Klay Thompson and decide he could make a move to the basket. He would dribble a bit too much, find himself in a bad spot and chuck out a bad pass that would get picked off. In fact, 15.3 percent of Iguodala’s isolation plays result in a turnover.
He is also not a great scorer in isolation situations. For the 140 shots attempted in isolations, he only made 54. Of those, 42 were three-point attempts and he only made 11, bringing his percentages to 38.6 percent from the field and 26.2 percent from beyond the arc.
In terms of Points Per Possession (PPP), a measurement that is calculated by taking total points divided by possessions and usually an effective indicator of a player’s efficiency, Iguodala has a 0.77 on isolation plays, putting him 114th in the league for that category.
Given that the 2012-13 Warriors ran Isolation plays 11.8 percent of the time, Iguodala would be best served to not be the go-to-guy on those possessions. As a point of reference and certainly not meant as a comparison, Curry has a PPP of 0.92 on isolations, which puts him 40th in the league.
Iguodala’s inability to dribble off a screen could be the biggest reason he shouldn’t be trusted with any major play-running duties. He has a turnover percentage of 26.6 percent, meaning that if you watch four videos of him dribbling off a screen, you would probably see him either travel, lose the ball or make a bad pass at least once.
What is even more damning than his turnover numbers are his scoring deficiencies. Even when he isn’t turning the ball over, he isn’t scoring off the dribble. In the 101 shots after coming off the screen, he only made 35. Of those, only 14 were three-point attempts and he made eight. He shot 34.7 percent from the field on those pick-and-roll plays.
Iguodala’s PPP for plays in which he is dribbling off the screen is 0.61, putting him at 165th in the league. He only scores in some way in 29.9 percent of all pick-and-roll plays. Last year, 13.4 of all the Warriors possessions were shots off the dribble in the pick-and-roll, and their PPP of 0.83 was the sixth-highest in the league. For reference, Curry had a PPP of 0.87, the 30th-highest of all players in the league. Additionally, he had a turnover percentage of 16.6 percent.
Simply enough, Iguodala’s inability to create his own is the reason to keep him away from major point guard responsibilities. His assist stats clearly show that he is a great passer in his own right, but he should not be the guy running the Warriors’ more complex offenses or even simple plays like the pick-and-roll.