After 20 games of the 2013-14 NBA season, the Golden State Warriors (11-9) currently sit in eighth place in the highly competitive Western Conference. In the preseason, the Warriors had aspirations of not only competing for a conference title, but also an NBA championship. However, this season has got off to a shaky start. It is still early in the year, but Golden State has not performed up to the level that they are capable of playing.
The main reason for the Warriors’ slow start has been that offseason acquisition Andre Iguodala has already missed a large portion of the season with a strained left hamstring. He has only appeared in 13 games and his absence has negatively impacted the Warriors on both sides of the ball. Without his veteran leadership on the floor, Golden State has struggled to find an identity, and they have lost four of seven games since his absence.
In the 13 games prior the injury, Iguodala was performing well in all phases of the game. Offensively, he has averaged 12.9 points, 4.3 rebounds, and 6.3 assists. He is shooting a career high 54.5 percent from the field, as well as a career-best 47.9 percent on 3s. Iguodala and new teammates Stephen Curry and Klay Thompson had also begun to develop a level of chemistry that typically takes a few months to transpire.
When Curry played off the ball, Iguodala was able to find him for open looks. Although he has missed 35 percent of the season, Iguodala still leads the Warriors in assists to Curry with 11. His ability to penetrate the lane in the half-court offense and kick the ball out often led to open looks for the Warriors sharpshooters. In transition, he could either opt to finish at the rim or kick it back out to the 3-point arc, where Curry and Thompson would often be waiting. Curry (43.3 percent on 3s) and Thompson (46.3 percent) have continuously taken advantage of defenses collapsing in the paint and not staying out on them on the perimeter, as is evident by their hot start in shooting the ball from beyond the arc.
Iguodala has shot a career-high from long distance because defenses have been so concerned about Curry and Thompson burning them, that they often forget to account for him. A career 33.3 percent 3-point shooter, Iguodala has been able to merely camp out on the perimeter, set his feet, and knock down open jumpers. His 47.9 percent shooting on 3s is directly correlated with his ability to catch and shoot, instead of needing to settle for pull-up jumpers like in years past. This season, Iguodala is shooting 61.8 percent on catch-and-shoot 3s, which at the time of his injury was among the league leaders.
Without Iguodala on the floor, Golden State’s half-court offense has become stagnant at times. Their spacing has been poor, and instead of looking to find the open man the Warriors are often shooting contested jumpers. Iguodala’s presence enabled the Warriors to have an additional scoring threat on the floor, someone else who could run the point, and his inability to play has caused a multitude of problems for Golden State offensively.
Golden State has missed Iguodala’s perimeter defense as well. His length and athleticism causes havoc for offensive players, and his defensive positioning and footwork often leads to turnovers or contested shots. He always takes command on the defensive side of the floor and often guards an opposing team’s most skilled wing players. Doing so has allowed Thompson and Harrison Barnes to expend more energy on offense, where the Warriors count on them to produce. Since his absence, Golden State has had to rely on Thompson, Barnes and Draymond Green to pick up the slack on defense, which has led to mixed results. The Warriors have allowed more than 100 points in every game since his injury, as opposed to only giving up 100 points in four of the 13 games prior to him being sidelined.
In 483 minutes with Iguodala on the floor, the Warriors have allowed only 95.4 points per 100 possessions. During the 487 minutes he has not played, Golden State has given up 104.5 points per 100 possessions.
It is evident that without his presence on the court, the Warriors have struggled, and they need him to return to full health in order to be successful.
Statistics used in this post provided by NBA.com/Stats