Are Denver Nuggets Using Andre Iguodala Properly?

Roy BurtonContributor IMarch 6, 2013

What's wrong with Andre Iguodala?

By its very nature, the question assumes that there's an issue with the Denver Nuggets' swingman in the first place. After all, Iguodala made the Eastern Conference All-Star team last season, and a year later, his Player Efficiency Rating (14.97) is on par with the league average.

The Nuggets play at such a frenetic pace that it wasn't unreasonable to think that Andre Iguodala could score 18 to 20 points per night. Instead, his scoring average this season is hovering around 13 points per game.

So there must be a problem, right? Nuggets head coach George Karl has to be using Iguodala incorrectly. After all, behind Iguodala's normally stoic demeanor lies a man who has the athleticism to do just about anything that he wants to on the basketball court.

But perhaps there isn't a problem. Perhaps—for the first time in Andre Iguodala's career—people are finally starting to pay attention to his game, flaws and all.

The scouting report on Andre Iguodala has always been as follows: A superior athlete whose questionable jump shot is the biggest red mark in an otherwise well-rounded package. All of that was true when the Philadelphia 76ers drafted him back in 2004, and it's still true nine years and 1,700 miles later in Denver.

It's easy to fall in love with Iguodala's skill set. He is a point forward personified: An exceptional playmaker who also has the ability to beat his man off of the dribble and finish strong at the rack.

Iguodala also happens to be one of the sharpest minds in the game, and his attention to detail on the defensive end has earned him favored nation status among NBA bloggers and television analysts alike.

And therein lies the problem. Buried beneath the praise of Iguodala's defensive prowess is the fact that his offensive limitations have been all but ignored.

For all intents and purposes, Iguodala's offensive impact on the Nuggets has been non-existent: Denver averages 104.3 points per 100 possessions when Iguodala is on the court, and 104.1 points when he's on the bench. The 2011-12 76ers were actually better on offense when Iguodala wasn't on the court (94.3 points per 100 possessions vs. 92.7). And this season, Iguodala has scored 15 points or more just as many times as he has finished in single digits.

"You thought he'd be our leading scorer? I never thought that," said Karl back in February. It's also safe to assume that Karl never expected Iguodala to rank 264th in the league in terms of points per possession, according to Synergy Sports.

Iguodala's performance this season shouldn't be revelatory in any way: It's only shocking to those who haven't much paid attention over the past few years. His jump shot remains mediocre at best (Iguodala is shooting 31.6 percent in 2012-13 on shots attempted from beyond three feet), and his 8-for-22 conversion rate in "clutch" situations is proof that he still isn't a reliable go-to option at the end of games.

The absence of Andrew Bynum has led many Sixers' fans to pine for the days of Iguodala, but his tenure in Philadelphia can only be described as being consistently inconsistent. That hasn't changed with the Nuggets: Eight days after scoring a single point against the Boston Celtics on Feb. 20, Iguodala put up a 29/7/8 line against the Portland Trail Blazers.

"I'm sure it's hard for him, psychologically not finding an offensive rhythm," said Karl in an interview with Benjamin Hochman of the Denver Post. "But for me, I think he should just relax, chill and continue to lead us defensively."

Defense has never been an problem for Iguodala, and his struggles on offense may be due in part to a change of address and altitude. After being the de facto star in Philadelphia, the 29-year-old swingman is no longer his team's focal point on both ends of the court.

"It's a little bit of an adjustment," said Iguodala while speaking to Mark Kiszla of the Denver Post in February. "It's hard to change habits, especially when you're the new guy coming into a new situation."

Then again, after eight-plus seasons in the NBA, maybe Iguodala simply is who he is. The list of players who have reinvented themselves after their 29th birthday is short, and the odds of Iguodala developing a Stephen Curry-like mid-range game are relatively slim.

Last October, there was an article written about the Nuggets' newest acquisition entitled "Is The World Ready For Andre Iguodala?" A more apt question would have been "Is Andre Iguodala Ready For The World...And For Everything That It Expects From Him?"

Several months later, we still don't know the answer.