Here’s a challenge: try to mention the name “Andre Iguodala” in a group of Philadelphia 76ers fans without hearing a response like “He’s worthless, he’s way overpaid, he thinks he’s clutch,” or “he will never be a superstar.”
Well, unless you’ve mumbled your words or are speaking a language not familiar to your listeners (perhaps Mandarin Chinese), chances are that you’ll hear one, if not all, of these comments.
It’s not their fault though; they’re Philadelphia fans, and that’s how it is in Philly—tough.
If a player doesn’t measure up to fan expectations, they won’t be well liked; it’s a fact. That doesn’t mean that these wonderful fans can’t change their minds a bit. Whether people want to believe it or not, Andre Iguodala is a more-than-vital piece of the Sixers’ success this season, and he is a much better player than most people think.
The main reason most people think that Andre Iguodala is a bad basketball player is because of his lack of a consistent jump shot. There is no way to sugarcoat the fact here; Iggy just doesn’t have that “wow” factor in the shooting category that LeBron James, Dwayne Wade, Carmelo Anthony and Kobe Bryant all possess.
As for the fast break finishes and dunks, the beautiful behind the back passes, the heads up steals, the stellar defense, the big rebounds, the hustle plays and the durability, Andre Iguodala has as much or more of that “wow” factor than any of the previously mentioned superstars.
When Iguodala was given his lucrative six year, $80 million contract in 2008, the Sixers’ management was confident that with some coaching, he could improve his jump shot.
Add that consistent jumper to his arsenal and maybe some more shooting discipline, and Iguodala is one of the best superstars in the game. The reality though, is that he will most likely never develop that jumper, so fans are going to have to accept him the way he is.
Accept him the way he is. Sounds pretty negative, right? Well, it isn’t as negative as you may think. Despite what you’ve previously heard, being a superstar in the NBA can go beyond being the league’s top scorer.
This is the case with Andre Iguodala. So far this season, Iguodala has kept some of the league’s best scorers in check, holding them to very dismal offensive statistics. Don’t believe me? See for yourself:
This season matched up against Iguodala:
So there you have it; some pretty impressive stats on defense. These stats go unnoticed by those simply viewing a stat sheet. As you can see, there are ten games this season where Iguodala has shut down some of the best offensive players in the game.
He also is among the league leaders in almost every defensive stat. Next I’m going to compare Andre to one of the best players currently playing the game, LeBron James (I know, I know; the Heat stink. James is still a superstar though). Take a look at this season’s stats for Iguodala and James.
James and Iguodala share very close statistics this season, except for their points scored per game. Iguodala scores about 12 less points per game the James, but does that stat do Iguodala enough justice? Take a look at the second stat in the chart—field goal attempts. Andre Iguodala has—get this—less than HALF, that’s right HALF, of the amount of shots attempted by LeBron James.
If Iguodala had shot the same amount of shots as James, he would most definitely have comparable points scored per game. Would that have earned him the title of “superstar”? According to the consensus so far by fans, that superstars must score 25+ points per game, it would have.
Another similarity between Iguodala and James players comes in their athletic builds. Aside from the fact that James has a few inches on Iguodala, both players are equally athletic on the court, able to run, jump, and dunk with the best players in the NBA. Now don’t take this the wrong way; I’m in no way trying to make a case that Iguodala will become LeBron James. Instead, I’m simply stating that if we consider James a “superstar” player, we must consider Iguodala at least a “star” player.
The Sixers currently have a 32-30 record, coming off back-to-back wins against the Golden State Warriors and the Minnesota Timberwolves. Iguodala has posted two straight triple doubles in those games for the first time in his career and is starting to get hot. T
he Sixers are also a game behind the New York Knicks for the sixth seed in the Eastern Conference and four and a half games behind the Atlanta Hawks for the fifth seed. Even though Iguodala sometimes has a tendency to shoot unnecessary jumpers early in the shot clock, and have a poor choice in when to shoot and when to pass, (especially when it comes to three pointers) he is a very valuable asset to the team.
Some may say that the Sixers play better without Iguodala in the lineup. Well, there isn’t sufficient evidence to prove that case, but how could having one of the leagues top defenders on the court be a disadvantage? It can’t be. If the Sixers hope to make a statement this year by moving up in the conference and even pulling off a sustained playoff run, they’re going to need Andre Iguodala—jumper and all.