Andre Iguodala Calls LeBron James 'The Top Talent Ever' Ahead of Heat vs. Lakers

Scott Polacek@@ScottPolacekFeatured ColumnistSeptember 28, 2020

Golden State Warriors forward Andre Iguodala (9) defends Cleveland Cavaliers forward LeBron James (23) in the first half of Game 3 of basketball's NBA Finals, Wednesday, June 6, 2018, in Cleveland. (AP Photo/Tony Dejak)
Tony Dejak/Associated Press

Few people know what it is like to face LeBron James in the NBA Finals better than Andre Iguodala, which makes it all the more notable when he called the Los Angeles Lakers star "the top talent ever."

"You just got to have that will, understanding you're guarding the top talent ever," Iguodala told Marc J. Spears of ESPN's The Undefeated. "He's going to make you pay when you make mistakes. You just try to play mistake-free basketball. Put him in vulnerable situations where you feel like you got the advantage, whether it's a shot or a pass or where he is defensively." 

Iguodala played against James in four straight NBA Finals from 2015 through 2018 when he was with the Golden State Warriors and the King was on the Cleveland Cavaliers. They will square off again with the 2020 Larry O'Brien Trophy hanging in the balance after Iguodala helped the Miami Heat out of the Eastern Conference.

James may be the better player and a "top talent," but Iguodala has bragging rights stemming from their head-to-head matchups.

He won the 2015 NBA Finals MVP and helped Golden State take home the 2017 and 2018 titles. LeBron's Cavaliers won it all in 2016 in a dramatic 3-1 comeback, but he still lost two of the three Finals he faced his veteran counterpart.

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A major reason for that is Iguodala's defense, as Spears noted nobody in the league has defended James as much as the Heat forward since the 2015 NBA Finals. LeBron, who is a 50.4 percent shooter from the floor throughout his career, is shooting 44 percent on 139 field goal attempts when guarded by Iguodala, per ESPN Stats & Info (via Spears).

Miami will need that defense in the upcoming series considering the only way to defeat the Lakers is by keeping James and Anthony Davis in check.

Few teams can throw as many formidable wing defenders at James as the Heat with Jae Crowder and Jimmy Butler joining Iguodala as potential options. What's more, Bam Adebayo is athletic and versatile enough to hang with Davis for extended stretches and proved his defensive prowess during the Eastern Conference playoffs.

Iguodala will have another chance at containing James in Wednesday's Game 1.