Andre Iguodala: The Journey From Superstar to Bench Star


On 2 May 2013, the Golden State Warriors defeated the Denver Nuggets in the first round of the 2013 Playoffs, and Andre Iguodala played his final game as a Nugget. It was his first season with Denver, and would enter free agency with the choice of whether he would prolong his stay in Denver.

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On 17 June 2015, Iguodala would help the Warriors win the NBA title against the Cleveland Cavaliers and would win the Finals MVP in the process. It was Iguodala’s first title, and his role in shutting down LeBron James saw him rewarded with his first ever “Most Valuable Player” award.

So much has happened since Iguodala last played for the Nuggets – back then, he was regarded as the Nuggets’ biggest ‘star’ player, especially on a team that lacked a real superstar name. After being the best player on the Philadelphia 76ers’ for many years before that, Iguodala had created for himself a reputation as a fringe superstar in the league.

However, his move to the Warriors was a move that many experts criticised. Many analysts felt as though the Warriors were stunting the growth of Harrison Barnes by bringing Iguodala along, and at the hefty price of $48 million over four years, it was simply a deal that the Warriors didn’t need to make. Add in the fact that Iguodala would be 32 at the end of the contract and was already starting to show signs of decline, and there was real doubt with his move to the Warriors.

It didn’t help that his debut season resulted in Barnes’ worst season of his young career. To help accommodate Iguodala’s arrival, the Warriors benched Barnes and started Iguodala. While he did help the Warriors better their win total from the previous season, it was his worst statistical season since his rookie year. The Warriors weren’t that much better with him, and many felt as though the Warriors could have acquired someone with a better fit than Iguodala with the money they spent.

That would all change when coach Steve Kerr took over. One of the first important moves he made was to reinstate Barnes’ starting position over Iguodala. He cited Iguodala’s ability to be the bench’s point forward as a big reason for this move, and in an excellent example of “team over self”, Iguodala stated that he was happy with coming off the bench.

So for the first time in his career, Andre Iguodala would be coming off the bench. This was a player two seasons removed from his All-Star appearance. There was no obligation for him to reduce his role, especially after coach Kerr was singing his praises on how he was the best player in training camp. Even as he struggled to get used to the role, you rarely heard a single complaint from Iguodala, as the Warriors found more success with him coming off the bench.

Perhaps, that’s why it is so fitting that Andre Iguodala would be the first ever Finals MVP to have come off the bench in the first three games. The decision to start Iguodala in Game Four is widely viewed as the turning point of the series, and there’s no doubt that the Warriors would not have won if not for his superb two-way play.

But what about next season? By coming off the bench, Iguodala was able to preserve his body better for the playoffs, and it’s no secret that Father Time is catching up to him. He spent the offseason rehabbing in Germany, where he underwent treatment for tendinitis in his knees. There’s a good chance that we see a much more spry Iggy next season, and with a full season of getting used to coming off the bench, there’s no reason why we can’t see Iguodala perform even better in the sixth man role.

Dare I say, Andre Iguodala – Sixth Man of the Year?

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