Kelley L Cox-USA TODAY Sports

What the Return of Andre Iguodala Means for the Golden State Warriors

Christmas came early for the Golden State Warriors when Andre Iguodala returned earlier than expected from a brutal hamstring injury. After a tough stretch without the new Warrior, the team and its fans are realizing just how important Iguodala is to the offense and defense.

During the lead up to the season, Warriors fans had heard the consensus Iguodala rap sheet several times: he’s a great wing defender and although he falters in a primary scoring role, he can cut to the hoop and distribute the ball well. Even Mark Jackson has echoed comments that Iguodala’s value gets “lost on paper.”

Still, none of these clichés fully capture what Andre means to this Warriors team. Perhaps Gale Boetticher explained this concept best in Harrison Barnes’s favorite show:

“Mr. Fring, I can guarantee you a purity of 96%. I’m proud of that figure. It’s a hard-earned figure, 96. However, this other product is 99% and maybe even a touch beyond that . . . that last 3%, it may not sound like a lot–but it is.

It’s tremendous. It’s a tremendous gulf.

So it is with the Warriors offense. Even compared to last year’s vaunted offense, the lineup with Iguodala is downright nasty. Aside from digging into his stat lines, the best way to gauge Iguodala’s true value is to behold the controlled chaos of the Curry-Thompson-Iguodala-Lee-Bogut lineup.

As Warriors fans saw at the beginning of the season, this starting Warriors squad has destroyed opponents in the first quarter. In games they might have scrapped through last year, they are now driving up 20-25+ point leads and relaxing through the fourth quarter.

Last year, the Warriors relied heavily on their unparalleled 3-point shooting. This sucked defenders out and allowed David Lee’s post game to flourish as well. But with Iguodala, the Warriors can now attack in three different ways: splash, slash, or post up.

When Iguodala has the ball, Steph and Klay can both come off screens and be ready to drain from opposite sides of the perimeter. With their talent, guarding the three is likely a top priority of the defense. This spreads the floor and allows Iguodala to attack the rim and score. He can also pass to either Lee or Bogut, each of whom is fully capable of making another pass to a cutting teammate or back out to one of the sharpshooters.

Simply put: there is practically no way to contain every one of these weapons. Teams will often have to cross their fingers and hope they miss.

Beyond that, Iguodala helps the team with his defensive prowess. For example: with Steph out against Memphis earlier in the season, he helped guard Mike Conley and thus allowed Klay to save some much-needed energy for the offensive end.

With the steady rise of Harrison Barnes, many questioned why the Warriors needed another “3”. What we have seen so far, however, is that Iguodala has pushed this team over the edge.

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