The Golden State Warriors acquired Andre Iguodala during the offseason for primarily one reason: To advance further in the NBA Playoffs. He has produced in many ways for the team, but he hasn’t been the statistical standout that fans craved.
With the regular season on its final leg, the Dubs haven’t clinched a playoff spot yet. They have been fighting to secure a spot while overcoming injuries to big men Andrew Bogut and David Lee.
Iguodala is the patch on this team, as he is able to fill a lot of holes on defense, while still providing some of the necessary offensive output.
That being said, his statistics don’t jump off the page. He is currently averaging 9.4 PPG, 4.3 APG and 4.7 RPG, all below his career norms.
Basketball is a numbers game, and players make money off career seasons. In this case, Iguodala is being a consummate team player and deferring to the younger, exciting players like Stephen Curry and Klay Thompson.
Statistics show that Iguodala is shooting at close to a career low in attempts per game. He is only putting up 7.3 shots and converting 47.5 percent of the time.
As a result of holding back with his dribble penetration, he is only getting to the line a career-low 2.2 times.
But on defense, Iguodala is strutting his stuff. He is currently second in the NBA in plus/minus with an average of +8.4 per game.
Defense wins championships, and Iguodala is one of the best foundations you could have in the Association. He can take away the opponent’s best perimeter offensive force, and he can create in transition.
If the Warriors want an advantage in the first round and subsequent rounds, Iguodala needs to be in top form. He will undoubtedly be assigned to the opponent’s best weapon, but he might be slowed down by knee tendinitis that should linger throughout the remainder of the season.
By minimizing the top scorer’s production and altering ball movement, Iguodala lessens the load on the other stalwart defenders, Bogut and Thompson.
Iguodala needs to fill the lanes to create tough passes and use his wingspan to deflect balls to other teammates. If he can slow down the opponent in the playoffs, the Dubs have a better shot at controlling the game and not falling into deep deficits.
One of Iguodala’s biggest shots of the season came in the remarkable game versus the Oklahoma City Thunder on November 14 with the buzzer-beating, step-back jumper.
As referenced earlier, Iguodala has put up close to career lows with the number of shots attempted per game. He mentioned that he isn’t primarily a scorer, but come playoff time, it might be a different story.
Iguodala expressed that belief in a Sports Illustrated article by Chris Ballard:
When the time comes, playoff time, that's when it starts to come," he says. "A team plays the percentages and says, 'He's not a guy who can score as much this year,' so they'll leave me open or I'll have more opportunities, and then it'll come. That's why I don't press. I know it'll come. I know the angle, I know where we're trying to get. I'm fine where I'm at, as long as we're continuing to win games.
The Warriors need Iguodala to shoot more, in order to force defenders away from double-teaming Curry. He also has to continue to improve from the free-throw line, where he is shooting 64.1 percent.
If opponents have to worry about Iguodala, the Warriors will have a chance to spread the floor and create easier opportunities with good ball-movement. The end result should be an even more free-flowing offense and somebody open for a higher percentage shot.
Iguodala is one of the wings who can truly handle the ball. He takes the place of Curry on some plays or when Curry moves to the two position.
Since he knows how to handle the ball, he must start using that facet come playoff time. He brings the instant offense when he has the rock, because he is skilled enough to drive to the basket or dish off when he sees another option.
In this highlight, he shows off his quick feet and ball-handling ability. He doesn’t score, but he gets to the rim with ease.
Since Iguodala is a good passer, he will have to maximize his opportunities in the playoffs to spread the ball around. Once again, when Curry is given the room to play off the ball, he can find openings on the floor where Iguodala can dish to him.
Iguodala can also get the big men involved. David Lee is a dominant scorer inside and Bogut is looking to repeat last year’s performance.
If Iguodala can start working the perimeter to get the ball in low to the frontcourt players, it spaces out the defense even more. In the following play, Iguodala directs traffic and tosses a beautiful around-the-back pass to Lee for the score.
Putting It All Together
His court vision is so good, he anticipates moves from his teammates. Bogut will usually be nonchalant, make a quick hand gesture and be at the rim to receive the pass.
Against the Sacramento Kings, Iguodala takes a quick look, sees Bogut lurking and makes the no-effort pass to him for the easy slam.
Iguodala will play through pain and do enough to give the Dubs a solid chance to advance to the second round or even longer.
His defense is something that coach Mark Jackson can build his game plan around. He slows down opponents and shrinks the court.
Although Curry is the gatekeeper of the offense, Iguodala needs to insert himself into the action, if the Dubs want to advance in the dominant Western Conference.
All the talent is there, Iguodala just has to make sure that he has a little “me” time instead of being so selfless.
This is a type of play that he can create if he gets involved.
Come playoff time, the fans, coach Jackson and management want to get their money’s worth. Iguodala better be ready.
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