Published on March 2nd, 2018 | by Landon Buford0
Iguodala Stifles The Hawks
Atlanta, Georgia-Friday night’s 114-109 win over Atlanta reinforced why his teammates still view him as one of Golden State’s most important players. In addition to taking turns defending Hawks guard Dennis Schroder, Iguodala had nine points on 4-for-8 shooting, six assists, and five rebounds.
In the game’s waning seconds, with the Warriors nursing a three-point lead, Iguodala knew he could be aggressive pressuring his man as long as he didn’t give up a three-pointer. When Atlanta guard Kent Bazemore went to cross him over at the top of the arc, Iguodala pounced, poking away the ball for the steal, racing downcourt and throwing down a one-handed dunk to seal the win.
“It was just all felt, honestly,” said Iguodala, who recognized that going for the dunk was wiser than stopping to get fouled. “You’re timing those things up throughout the game. You count people’s cadence. You count people’s pace, and I got a little lucky.”
Iguodala has long prioritized defense and passing over scoring. At Lanphier High School in Springfield, he was the No. 2 option to a volume shooter named Richard McBride. Iguodala’s two seasons at Arizona were spent setting up the likes of Channing Frye, Salim Stoudamire, Hassan Adams and Jason Gardner.
It wasn’t until the 2006-07 season, Iguodala’s third with the 76ers, that he emerged as a go-to scorer following the trade of Allen Iverson. Even as Iguodala averaged 17.1 points in 2009-10, Philadelphia lost 55 games, ranked 26th in attendance and was often greeted by boos at home.
In July 2013, two months after his Denver team lost to Golden State in the first round of the playoffs, Iguodala took a pay cut to join the Warriors. Over the past three seasons, he has carved out his niche as the leader of perhaps the league’s most stacked bench. It became clear in the 2015 NBA Finals, when Iguodala beat out LeBron James and Stephen Curry for series MVP, that a player who could be a top-three scorer on most teams was Golden State’s, sixth man.
The Warriors don’t need gaudy point totals from Iguodala. What he provides offensively is secondary to his on-court leadership.
“Analytics is a huge thing, and a lot of people don’t want to watch games because it’s easy to just follow analytics after the game,” Warriors forward Kevin Durant said. “If you don’t really watch Andre, you don’t really appreciate what he brings.”
Iguodala is averaging a career-worst 5.8 points per game and shooting a career-worst 25 percent from three-point range. Even his 64.1 percent clip from the foul line is well below his career average.
In recent months, as Iguodala’s misses mounted, Kerr reminded reporters that Iguodala is a master at peaking late in seasons.
More than any physical gift, what separates Iguodala from most players his age is his diligent self-preservation. Seldom does he not meet with the training staff after practice. When Kerr asks him to rest the occasional game, Iguodala hardly argues. Acupuncture appointments are part of his monthly routine.
Now, with the playoffs six weeks away, he is beginning to pair his stingy defense with efficient offense. In February, Iguodala shot 61.5 percent from the field and 38.5 percent from three-point range.
“The biggest thing with Andre is he’s really healthy right now, and he’s feeling good,” said Kerr, who won three NBA titles (1996-98) with Pippen in Chicago. “He’s bouncy, has a lot of energy. What’s happened in the first 62 games means nothing.”