Andre Iguodala Gives Warrior Fans First Taste of His Brilliance

Grant Hughes@@gt_hughesNational NBA Featured ColumnistNovember 5, 2013

Stephen Curry notched an easy triple-double, Klay Thompson put the clamps on Michael Carter-Williams, and the Golden State Warriors utterly annihilated the Philadelphia 76ers by a final score of 110-90 Monday night.

But nothing about the Dubs' massive win should have fans more excited than Andre Iguodala's emergence as a one-man wrecking crew.

To be clear, it's not exactly breaking news that Iguodala is a stud on both ends. He's been an All-Star selection and the Warriors are paying him $48 million over the next four years because he has a reputation as an elite two-way threat.

But after three solid games to start the season, Iggy finally showed everyone how substantial his impact on this Warriors team could be.

In 33 minutes at the Wells Fargo Center, the veteran wing piled up 32 points, drilled a career-high seven three-point shots, notched three steals, handed out three dimes and blocked a shot. You know a stat line's impressive when you have to take a deep breath in the middle of reciting it, and the preceding list of achievements certainly qualifies.

But what's truly incredible is that the numbers aren't even what made Iguodala's night so meaningful. What mattered most was the way he so clearly gave the Dubs a dimension they lacked last year. 

Sure, Harrison Barnes is a remarkably athletic forward. It's possible that once he gets healthy he'll be able to pull off plays like this one:

But Iguodala didn't just run around the floor catching 70-foot lobs; he also kept the ball moving on offense in a way that no other Warriors wing can. He constantly found shooters on the perimeter after drawing the defense with drives into the lane.

Were it not for a handful of missed open shots, Iggy could easily have approached 10 assists.

And even if his passes didn't lead directly to open looks, they were frequently the first step in a chain reaction of ball movement that eventually resulted in a high-efficiency scoring opportunity. That's no accident, as Iguodala's unselfishness has clearly spread to the rest of the roster.

The Dubs are lucky to have above-average passers at all five starting positions, but Iguodala's willingness to share the rock has created an offensive trend that has the Warriors swinging the ball more readily than ever.

The San Antonio Spurs have been one of the league's most efficient offenses since what seems like the dawn of time because they swear by the principle of giving up good looks for great ones. Last year, Golden State frequently settled for shots that were merely "good."

Thanks to Iguodala, they're now holding out for more.

Having spent a fair amount of time discussing the more nuanced impact of Iguodala's passing, it's only fair to dole out equal praise for his ridiculous, once-in-a-season behind-the-back dime.

First, watch. Then, when you've collected yourself, we'll discuss.

Sick, right?

There's absolutely no explanation for why Iguodala decided to catch this pass from Thompson and immediately redirect it behind his back to David Lee for a layup. Whatever thought process occurred in his mind in the split second between catch and fling is beyond this writer's capacity to describe.

What say you, ESPN's Tom Haberstroh?

It was intuitive, creative and totally spontaneous.

It was a 24-foot dime, delivered on a line to a a still-moving Lee while Iguodala's momentum was taking him away from the play. Despite the incredible pass, Iggy managed to seem unimpressed.

And if there's a better testament to the way Iguodala has changed the Warriors' thinking on offense than the fact that Lee somehow expected that pass, I'd love to hear it. Two quarters into their fourth regular-season game with Iggy in the lineup, the Dubs (3-1) are a more dynamic, less predictable offensive unit as ever

I guess it's also worth mentioning that Iguodala is probably among the league's three best perimeter defenders, too. Frankly, it's getting a little exhausting to chronicle all of Iggy's awesomeness.


Moving Ahead

OAKLAND, CA - OCTOBER 24: Andrew Bogut #12, Andre Iguodala #9 and Stephen Curry #30 of the Golden State Warriors in a game against the Portland Trail Blazers on October 24, 2013 at Oracle Arena in Oakland, California. NOTE TO USER: User expressly acknowle
Rocky Widner/Getty Images

OK, so now that Warriors fans have finally seen Iguodala put together a truly remarkable game, it's time to take stock of what his play might mean for the Dubs' future.

At the risk of oversimplifying, he makes it brighter. More specifically, he represents the rare star addition that takes absolutely nothing away from the rest of the roster while simultaneously supplying the elements that were missing from the team's makeup a year ago.

The Warriors have three exceptionally difficult road games ahead of them. They'll face the 3-1 Minnesota Timberwolves Wednesday, followed by the Spurs (whom the Dubs haven't beaten in San Antonio in their last 29 regular-season attempts) and the always brutal Memphis Grizzlies in the Friday-Saturday back-to-back.

That upcoming trio of games would have seemed like a death sentence last year. But with Iguodala supplying a new offensive dimension and locking things down on D, the Dubs are set to face off against three elite opponents as equals.

Yes, Iguodala's field day came against the Sixers, who crashed spectacularly back to earth after a hot start to their season. And yes, Iggy might have had a little extra motivation because he was playing against a former employer.

But there's no denying the way he has single-handedly erased the "fringe" modifier from the Dubs' status as contenders. The rest of the NBA is now on notice: Andre Iguodala has turned the Warriors into a bona fide title threat.



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