Admittedly, it is hard to judge a player whose offensive game is only a small fraction of what makes him great.
But Andre Iguodala, a triple-double threat in Philadelphia, an Olympic gold medal recipient, is now averaging a mere 9.3 points per game. He looks tentative on offensive and looks more like the LeBron James and Dwayne Wade circa fall of 2011 when either James or Wade would dribble the ball up the floor and say to the other, “Is it my turn to score? Can I attack the rim now?
Iguodala used to be one of the league’s best small forwards. His scoring numbers peaked in 2007-2008 when he averaged 19.9 points along with 4.8 assists and 5.4 rebounds on a Sixers team that had the likes of Andre Miller, Willie Green, Samuel Dalembert, Reggie Evans, and current UConn Men’s basketball coach Kevin Ollie.
But it is fitting that in 2011-12, the year of Igudoala’s lone All-Star game appearance, that his scoring average was only 12.4 points compared to his rebound and assists averages which were 6.1 and 5.5 respectively.
When you wake up in the morning and check your local newspaper or log onto your default sports website in hopes of seeing your favorite NBA team’s win over a rival foe, you look at the box score, a mere fraction of the entire story that is an NBA game. A box score shows points, rebounds, assists, steals, turnovers, and some very general shooting statistics. And while Iguodala’s steal numbers are always at the top of the league, he has been in the top 10 of total steals in a season seven times, his numbers often times look very pedestrian. 12 points maybe, six rebounds, four assists. You think to yourself, “should this guy really be making almost $13 million and be signed up until 2016-17?”
But the box score does Iguodala an injustice. His offensive numbers are only a small part of his story.
Iguodala posses a unique ability to guard any player on the floor except a center.
Watch, for example, how Andre Iguodala guards LeBron James in the Warriors-Heat game from early February.
Iguodala shadows James throughout this Heat possession. James is the first option on the possession. After setting a screen for Norris Cole, James rolls to the rim but Iguodala does a good job playing the screen and eliminates any possible interior pass. James goes to the baseline possibly looking to catch a laser pass for an easy two, but Iggy is in good position. Iguodala chases James up to the top of the key and contests a long jump shot at the end of the shot clock.
There are countless more possessions that document just how impactful Iguodala truly is on the defensive end, this is just one fragmented example. The impact of Iguodala guarding James does not show up in the box score, but there is a reason Iguodala leads the entire NBA in plus-minus with a plus-8.7 rating. Iguodala’s 1.6 steals per game are only good enough to put him in the top 20 for this season, but his activity on defense cannot be quantified by looking at only that category.
The Warriors are 36-18 with Iguodala in the lineup and 6-7 without him and while his offensive statistics are far from extrodinary, Iguodala is impactful on the offensive end.
Iguodala has the ball-handling ability of a point guard and his ability to bring the ball up the floor takes pressure off of Stephen Curry and often times gives Curry chances to act more as a shooting guard than a pure point guard. He is excellent on spots ups averaging 1.03 points per possession. His 1.054 ppr and 1.389 ppr on post-ups and cuts, respectively, are also excellent. He is in the 96th percentile in catch-and-shoot shots which is also impressive for a player who only shoots 7.4 shots per game.
The Warriors had high aspirations for the former Sixer and Nugget small forward when they signed him back in July. He was the missing piece, the player that would push the Warriors over the hump. And while the Warriors have struggled and played inconsistent basketball this season, Iguodala will become a real factor come playoff time when every possession is exponentially more important and the pace of the game slows down.
Offensively, Iggy has not been worth the $13 million he is getting paid, but offense is only half the game and his defense is why Iguodala has not been a disappointment this season.