Andre Iguodala, a former All-Star, has become a sixth man extraordinaire for the Golden State Warriors. He should be recognized with an award.
Andre Iguodala signed with the Warriors in the summer of 2013, just one month after Stephen Curry and the up-and-coming Warriors upset his Denver Nuggets in the first round of the playoffs. Although “Iggy” started his career as a go to option in Philadelphia, tasked with the duty of being the heir apparent to Allen Iverson, Iguodala seamlessly transitioned from go to option to a key role player within the span of a couple seasons.
You probably know the story by now–Steve Kerr replaces Mark Jackson as the head coach, he convinces Iguodala to come off the bench in place of Harrison Barnes, and before the NBA knew what hit them the Warriors were hoisting the Larry O’Brien trophy.
Fast forward to 2016, and Andre Iguodala is the first man off the bench for arguably the greatest team of all time. It’s no secret how important Andre is to the Warriors. He is the veteran presence who comes into the game when Kerr wants the Warriors to settle down. Iguodala is a hybrid NBA player, equipped with the ball handling, vision, and playmaking ability of a guard, and the length, strength, and athleticism of a wing. His general versatility allows him to effectively guard the likes of James Harden and LeBron James on defense, while running the offense and directing traffic on the other end.
The Iguodala/Curry pairing is lethal, as it allows Curry to come off the ball and dance and weave through screens to get open three pointers. The pairing has played 912 minutes together this season (according to Basketball-Reference), and the chemistry the two have built over the past few seasons is a key to Golden State success. The Curry/Thompson/Iguodala/Barnes/Green lineup, aka “The Death Lineup”, has a net rating of 15.1. This allows the Warriors to switch every screen on defense, as well as adding a ball handler without sacrificing the high IQ decision making Bogut brings.
Iguodala has never been a sharp shooter, but he is knocking down three pointers at a steady rate this season. If you’re going to play alongside pick and roll maestro Steph Curry, you have to be able to knock down the open corner 3s you’re going to get. “Dolla Billz” is hitting 43% of corner threes this season, his most efficient output since the 2011-2012 season.
The ability to knock down open threes is key to Golden State’s system. When Curry and Draymond do their high pick and roll, defenders will often times try to trap Curry. Draymond will get the ball after rolling, drive to the basket, and kick it out to a wide open Iguodala or Barnes in the corner. Observe.
The Sixth Man of the Year award usually goes to the dude who scores the most points coming off of the bench. That’s why the Jamal Crawford type players win it every year. They’re literally in the game to get buckets. Andre Iguodala doesn’t score like he used to. He doesn’t need to. So what Will Barton can score in bunches? The Nuggets suck.
In fact, the NBA should make a new rule – teams have to be .500 or better in order for a player on that team to be considered for any award.
I’m kidding! Totally kidding. But Iguodala impacts the game in ways Crawford and Barton can’t. He can do a little bit of everything on both sides of the ball. When Crawford and Barton are having off nights, they can’t really impact the game in other ways. Those guys aren’t directing the offense in crunch time, while guarding the other team’s best player on the other end. This season, Iguodala has been the third most important player on the Warriors, saving the team again and again in many different ways.
Remember the game vs. the awful Brooklyn Nets early in the season in which the Warriors almost lost at home? Yeah, the game where Brook Lopez missed what would have been the game winning lay up. The Warriors were able to win that game after Iguodala hit a three to send it into OT. Can’t forget about last week, where Andre hit two clutch free throws, on the road, to send the OKC game into OT with all of the NBA universe watching that game on a Saturday night.
It’s no surprise that the Warriors tend to struggle without Iguodala. Without him, the Warriors needed a game winning three to beat the lowly Philadelphia Sixers, and this past Sunday they got blown out against the equally as sorry Los Angeles Lakers at Staples Center.
Andre Iguodala is the third most important player on the Warriors. If they lost him, Golden State’s title hopes would evaporate. Iggy probably won’t win the 6th Man of the Year award, and it’s a shame.