Andre Iguodala Isn't Enough to Make Warriors Western Conference Favorites

Benjamin KleinContributor IIIJuly 6, 2013

May 2, 2013; Oakland, CA, USA; Denver Nuggets shooting guard Andre Iguodala (9) congratulates Golden State Warriors point guard Stephen Curry (30) game six of the first round of the 2013 NBA Playoffs at Oracle Arena. The Warriors defeated the Nuggets 92-88. Mandatory Credit: Kyle Terada-USA TODAY Sports
Kyle Terada-USA TODAY Sports

The decision to sign Andre Iguodala was a smart one for the Warriors, but the star only makes Golden State marginally better than last year’s squad.

The Warriors reached an agreement to sign Iguodala to a four-year, $48 million deal on Friday, according to ESPN. Golden State opened up some space on the payroll by dealing Richard Jefferson, Andris Biedrins and Brandon Rush to the Jazz, per ESPN’s report. The deal will become official on Wednesday.

Iguodala is excited to play alongside of Stephen Curry, per his Twitter account:

Iguodala hasn’t been as sharp as he once was over the last few years. He used to be able to score around 19 points per night, but hasn’t averaged more than 13 in either of the last two seasons. In 2010-11, he scored 14.1 points per game. He is, however, still a good rebounder and passer, averaging 5.3 boards and 5.4 assists last year.

The Warriors will likely use him as the every day small forward, playing over the likes of Harrison Barnes, who started 81 games for Golden State this past season. One would presume that the Warriors would deal Barnes, considering he’s much too valuable to not be in the starting lineup each night.

Last season, the Warriors made the postseason for the first time since 2006-07, losing in the Western Conference Semifinals to the San Antonio Spurs in six games. Golden State was much better a year ago than in the last five years, but still have yet to employ enough talent capable of winning a title.

Landing Iguodala doesn’t secure the championship for the Warriors, the Western Conference or even the Pacific Division, for that matter. In essence, all the Warriors have done is replace a young talent in Barnes with a veteran talent in Iguodala. The two aren’t very different from each other.

Iguodala scored a few points more than Barnes last season and also averaged more assists per game. On the glass, both are capable of reeling in five or six boards per night. Will the additional four or five points and three or four assists per night really make that much of a difference in the 2013-14 season?

Here’s a look at what Golden State’s potential starting lineup will look like in numbers next year:

Sure, Andrew Bogut may not end up in the starting lineup, but that’s just a projection. The other four players, however, should be locks to be on the floor to start each game next season. That projected lineup will likely be able to score 75-plus points per night with around 30 rebounds and 20 assists.

The Warriors probably won’t have the greatest bench in the league, though. Jarrett Jack made a huge impact off the bench this past season and was the team’s fourth-highest scorer. Carl Landry saw around 23 minutes per night and was the fifth-highest scorer. Both are unrestricted free agents who might not return for 2013-14.

Golden State needs to improve the bench in the next coming weeks unless it’ll be tough to capture one of the top seeds in the playoffs next year. Right now, the Warriors have a good team, but not a great one. It will be extremely difficult to be a top-four team in the Western Conference in the upcoming season.

Oklahoma City is still one of the strongest teams in the league and now Houston, who landed Dwight Howard, is going to be a favorite as well. Let’s not forget about the Los Angeles Clippers, San Antonio Spurs or the Memphis Grizzlies, either. In reality, the Warriors might be the No. 6 or 7 seed next postseason.

Iguodala joining the Warriors makes the franchise a little bit more dangerous going forward, but the rest of the contenders in the conference shouldn’t be scared just yet. For now, Golden State still isn’t one of the top four teams in the West and shouldn’t be considered favorites to make it to the NBA Finals.