Sports Illustrated has projected the top-100 players over at the Point Forward heading into the 2013-14 season and Andre Iguodala was one of the Golden State Warriors selected.
The former Denver Nugget rated very well and clocked in as the 33rd best player in the NBA. He is ranked higher than most of his teammates as we can see from the analysis of the players that were omitted from the list and the assessment of the ranks of both Klay Thompson and David Lee.
Iguodala appears this high in the top 100 because he plays a multitude of positions and is one of the best complimentary players in the league. He was initially miscast in his time with the Philadelphia 76ers as a primary option and that hurt his relationship with a fan base that expected more from a player earning a salary comparable to the likes of Chris Paul.
In Denver, his skills were appreciated and incorporated within the team structure. Iguodala does not possess one single elite offensive skill but he is very good in several aspects.
The former Arizona Wildcat has a good enough handle on the ball to occasionally run the offense and he is also a willing passer. He is an average shooter at best and tends to settle for mid-range jumpers. However, when he catches the ball on the move or with space in front of him, he is one of the most dangerous players in the league by virtue of his jaw-dropping athleticism.
Iguodala finishes at the basket with violence reminiscent of Dominique Wilkins. Offensively, he is a poor man’s version of Scottie Pippen. On the defensive end though, he is one of the most destructive players in the league.
Warriors fans saw this first hand during the 2013 playoffs when the highflyer was tasked with defending every perimeter player on the Dubs. Eventually, he was asked to put the clamps on Stephen Curry and that responsibility came with mixed results.
Iguodala demonstrated that he hones in on tendencies and uses his body and freakishly long arms to consistently remain in front of his assignment and then contest the shot. He can be beat obviously and typically this occurs when offensive players outsmart him with clever bags of tricks (Kobe Bryant comes to mind).
Have a look at the video below as an example:
This is the breakdown of the footage I previously provided:
Bryant uses the Nuggets’ big man as somewhat of a brush screen on Iguodala. He dribbles right at Koufos and pulls him in the direction of his primary defender who gets taken out of the play and ends up with a one-on-one against the big man in a scenario Bryant will take just about every time.
If that’s what it takes to fool Iguodala, the Warriors will be fine with that given the difficulty involved with the execution of that possession.
In assessing Iguodala’s rank, Rob Mahoney offered this nugget of information on his defense:
One can very easily make the case that Iguodala is both the league’s best and hardest-working defender, given the mastery he shows in challenging elite offensive players on a full-time basis. His work essentially begins when the ball is inbounded, if not earlier; Iguodala devotes a lot of energy and attention to denying his man the ball. From that initial disruption, he has every tool necessary to prevent easy attempts: length, agility, strength and a tirelessness that allows him to play the long game.
That is the swingman in a nutshell. He defends every perimeter position and does so masterfully. Heading into 2013-14, he will be an important and effective player for Golden State precisely because of this.
The closest thing the Dubs had to a stopper in the previous season was Draymond Green, but he severely compromised the offense. Per NBA.com, the Dubs only scored 100.5 points per 100 possessions with the former Michigan State Spartan on the floor.
If we project that figure over an 82-game schedule, it ranks in the bottom third of NBA offenses in 2012-13. This occurred because defenses simply ignored Green and loaded up on the Warriors’ best players.
Green was afforded a multitude of open jump shots in his rookie season and he consistently misfired as evidenced by his 32.7 percent conversion mark. Perhaps he will improve enough in his sophomore campaign to the point that he is no longer a liability on offense.
However, Igudoala now occupies that role and he will be terrific at it. He is talented enough offensively that he simply must be accounted for by opposing defenses. Whether it is shooting open jumpers or converting in the paint, the Warrior highflyer is superior in every facet to Green.
Golden State’s offense will probably be just as good in Iguodala’s first season with the team if not better than what it was in 2012-13. But the big difference will come on the defensive end. With a player of his caliber hounding great perimeter players, the Dubs will have a chance to compete against the upper-echelon teams in the league.
Iguodala’s ranking at 33 makes perfect sense when looking at the names of players ahead of him. Some might argue that a couple of names rated higher are past their peak and that would be fair but the likes of Paul Pierce, David West and Kevin Garnett are still borderline elite players.
The remainder of the top-30 NBA players is a mix of fairly young veterans and players in their primes with the exception of Tim Duncan, Dirk Nowitzki and Kobe Bryant.
They are all unequivocally better than Iguodala and thus should have better seasons than him in 2013-14.
Questions or comments? Feel free to leave them in the comments section or you can contact me by email at [email protected].