Andre Iguodala was one of the biggest new acquisitions of a 2013 summer filled with trades and free agency signings. When the Golden State Warriors got Iggy in a three-team sign-and-trade, not too many Dubs fans batted an eyelash about the $48 million price tag that came with him. Sure it was a lot for a guy whose offense had slowly deteriorated almost every season since he came into the league, but this was the elite glue guy the Warriors needed to be true Western contenders. They now had one of the league’s best perimeter defenders, a smart passer, an athletic dunker and a decent three-point shooter for four years. What could possibly go wrong?
Flash forward seven and a half months later and the answer to that question could be summed up with a simple “everything.” Last night’s loss to the Chicago Bulls taught us a lot about the resiliency of Tom Thibodeau’s squad, but it showed us just as much about whether or not this team is a real contender. Iggy and the Warriors fooled people, myself included, into thinking they were a Dark Horse in the West.
Though they never climbed high enough in the standings to grab the nation’s attention, David Lee‘s #FullSquad comments seemed well-founded at the time. After all, Golden State had won of the best records in the league with their regular starting lineup of Stephen Curry, Klay Thompson, Andre Iguodala, David Lee and Andrew Bogut available.
— NBA on ESPN (@ESPNNBA) February 6, 2014
But sometimes when a star player gets hurt, we have a tendency to fantasize about how much better the team would be with that player healthy. The Chicago Bulls caught an extended glimpse of Derrick Rose‘s rust when he returned, the Oklahoma City Thunder are now 0-3 since Russell Westbrook‘s return and after missing 12 games in November and December with a hamstring injury, Andre Iguodala has likewise disappointed since, albeit to a much less understandable degree.
Unlike Westbrook and Rose, who are/were both likely to shake off the rust eventually, Iggy has been incredibly underwhelming, even for him. He’s averaging 9.6 points (which would be a career low if not for his rookie season), 4.8 rebounds (a career low) and 4.4 assists (third lowest in a season for his career). He’s shooting an efficient 48 percent from the field, but he’s also taking only 7.6 field goal attempts per game, which would be a career low again if not for his rookie season. On a team with guys like Curry, Lee and Thompson, who need/deserve to take a lot of shots, it makes sense that Iggy would be relied upon more for his defense. But the Warriors are barely a top-10 offense and Iggy’s a huge reason why.
Iguodala has never been an offensively inclined player, but he was shooting 43 percent from downtown on the season in late January. Since then, his three-point percentage has plummeted to 33 percent as he’s only connected on eight three-pointers in 46 tries over the course of 16 games. That’s 17.3 percent from beyond the arc in more than a month, which is approaching Jason Kidd-In-The-2013-NBA-Playoffs levels of putridity. Yet for all his poor shooting lately, there’s still this:
— Ethan Strauss (@SherwoodStrauss) February 25, 2014
All the Warriors need Iggy to do is play his patented great defense, swing the ball to open shooters and knock down good looks when he’s got them. Iguodala’s defensive rating of 102 is just outside the NBA’s top 20 and his defensive win shares are too (2.4). Iggy should be a Defensive Player of the Year candidate, except guys like Roy Hibbert and Andrew Bogut are more realistic options for those who forget that Iguodala anchored a top-10 defense even with Bogut sidelined.Unfortunately, there are two sides to the game of basketball.
Iggy is elite on one end, but his offense has been so bad that even that kind of special perimeter defense hasn’t helped the Warriors exceed their results from last year. At this point last season, the Warriors were just two games behind Golden State’s record for 2013-14 through 58 games. And that’s including that 10-game win streak that convinced us all the Dubs were for real. If the playoffs ended today, the Warriors would be the seventh seed in the West. Though the brutal Western competition wasn’t as stiff last year, Golden State was sixth for the 2013 NBA Playoffs. That’s not what the Dubs had in mind when they acquired Andre Iguodala.
However impressive Iggy’s defense is, his offense is reciprocally disappointing. Iggy’s Player Efficiency Rating of 13.6 barely beats his rookie PER (13.5) and since the hamstring injury, Iguodala looks completely disengaged on offense. He’s reached the 20-point plateau just three times this season, with the last time being Jan. 10 against the Boston Celtics.
Again, the Warriors didn’t trade for Iggy because of his offense. But no one can deny Iguodala is a better offensive player than this. Iguodala’s reached double digit scoring just four times in his last 10 games. He’s gone 3-for-18 in his last two games and hasn’t made a three-pointer in three games. Those are small sample sizes, but Iggy’s production has been consistently poor all season long. The Warriors don’t need him to score 20 a night, but when Curry, Lee and Thompson all have off nights like they did against Chicago yesterday, someone needs to step up. He still has time to turn things around this season, but so far, Andre Iguodala hasn’t turned this team into a contender like everyone expected.