The West just got a lot more interesting.
Following ESPN and media reports that Andre Iguodala has verbally agreed to sign the Golden State Warriors’ four-year, $48 million dollar offer sheet, one thing has become abundantly clear: The Warriors have officially taken the leap from playoff team to championship contender.
A flurry of action saw the egregious contracts of Richard Jefferson and Andris Biedrins—along with Brandon Rush and two future first-round picks—head to the Utah Jazz in exchange for cap relief, the result of which opened the door for the Warriors to pick up the versatile swingman.
Iguodala, who averaged 13.0 points, 5.3 rebounds and 5.7 assists in 80 games last season for the Denver Nuggets, brings a much-needed dimension to an already potent Warrior attack.
While he will be able to provide newly anointed star Stephen Curry some relief from his ball-handling duties throughout the season, off the ball has always been where Iguodala has shined.
With defenses expected to focus their attention on the sharp-shooting Curry, Iguodala will be counted on to hit open shots when defenses leave him open and cut to the basket in the event of an overplay.
Iguodala also enables the Warrior to improve their run-and-gun game. Merely content to settle for open three-point shots off the break in the past, the Warriors now have a finisher at the rim, someone who can challenge the interior of a defense and finish with authority.
The offensive side of the ball, however, is only a fraction of the value that Iguodala provides.
Lauded as the best perimeter defender in the NBA outside of LeBron James, his ability to check the best perimeter player on the opposing team will enable Curry, Klay Thompson and Harrison Barnes to build on their play from last season.
While Curry will most likely never become a lockdown defender, the Iguodala signing enables the Warriors to essentially hide Curry on that end and allows him to create chaos by playing passing lanes and poaching errant passes.
Perhaps the most interesting and exciting pairing, however, will be when Barnes shares the court with Iguodala. Having swingmen as versatile as those two will allow for some crafty defensive schemes as well as provide matchup nightmares when the Warriors have the ball.
Although Dwight Howard was the prize the Warriors thought they wanted, they will soon see got the one they needed in Iguodala. The eight-year veteran will bring leadership to an extremely young team, making sure that the terrific chemistry it seems to possess continues being translated into wins.
The Warriors added an all-star-caliber player but also ensured that the team remained Curry’s, something that would not have worked should they have landed Howard. After eight years in the league, Iguodala knows his role. He is a star, but not the star that many believed he could become.
Unlike his past teams, the Warriors will not miscast Iguodala. They know his strengths—defending, rebounding, cutting to the basket—and know how to use them.
It remains to be seen what else, if anything, the Warriors will do in the offseason. Regardless of whether they are done dealing or not, the big fish has already been caught.
Iguodala should provide a flawless integration into the Warriors’ system, an addition that should push them to the upper echelon of the Western Conference.