By: Yama Hazheer
Andre Iguodala has been the underrated motor to the Warriors’ success this season. It’s difficult to forget a little over $12 million a year on the roster, but given the fact that Stephen Curry, Klay Thompson, and Draymond Green have emerged as the faces of Golden State, Iguodala is often forgotten or under-appreciated.
The 31-year old is the second oldest player on the team behind journeyman Leandro Barbosa, but he definitely plays like the most intelligent. Steve Kerr has called Iguodala one of the smartest players he has ever been around on numerous occasions. That’s coming from a guy who’s been around Michael Jordan, Scottie Pippen, Dennis Rodman, Tim Duncan, and other Hall-of-Fame worthy players. With both Iguodala and Kerr being former Arizona Wildcats, they have been fond of each other this season.
Mark Jackson was a primary factor in Iguodala fleeing from Denver and joining the Warriors. Many feared he would take the coaching change harder than others, but the two have meshed well. Reporters asked Iguodala after a practice earlier in the season to mention the differences between Jackson and Kerr, he jokingly said, “one is white, and one is black.”
Iguodala has transitioned to the bench role well. His numbers have gone down, but he’s been able to help the team in other areas.
He serves as the leader to not only the second unit, but also fits that mold with the starters at times, too. He’s been a significant mentor for Klay Thompson and his defensive progression. Iguodala has helped Stephen Curry become a better player, as well. He constantly passes the ball to Curry, more than anyone else on the team and seems to find him always at the right time. 17.1 percent of Iguodala’s passes go to Curry.
The 6th Man of the Year award usually goes to the player who scores the most points for their team off the bench. In that case, Iguodala’s candidacy will be skipped over. However, he deserves more mentions than he has been getting. He’s one of the few bench players in the league that can come into a game and shut down the opposing team’s best player.
Iguodala holds his man to just 41 percent shooting from the field. Although he’s not as quick as he once was, he uses his experience and IQ to stick with some of the talented young wings in the game.
Curry can play off the ball more often when Iguodala is in the game. He can take care of the facilitator duties while Curry comes off screens and goes into scoring mode. There’s little Iguodala can’t do on a basketball court.
He isn’t attacking the basket as much as he once did and his free-throw shooting has gone south, turning him into mainly a catch-and-shoot player. He shoots 37.5 percent from beyond the arc in catch-and-shoot situations. He’s also shooting 57.7 percent on two-point shots on the year.
But make no mistake; Iguodala can score when he is in that mentality.
In the past three games without Thompson in the lineup, Iguodala has provided Golden State with a scoring spark off the bench. He’s averaged 14.6 points, on 62.9 percent shooting from the field, 70 percent from the free-throw line, made 3 three-pointers all in 27.6 minutes during those contests.
Igudoala has started in over 800 games during his NBA tenure, but has come off the bench for every single one so far this season. He hasn’t complained once. His usage rate is at 13.0, the lowest it’s been since his rookie season.
Despite the numbers saying he’s not the All-Star he once was, it’s evident he is one of the more valuable players on the team and a critical part to the team’s exceptional season.