Andre Iguodala is a defender. In a league that showcases its offensive stars, Iguodala is one of the few left who are 100% committed to making their money, which, in his case, may be a little too much for what he brings to the table, on the defensive end of the floor. At six-foot-seven, Andre has the size to guard opposing shooting guards and small forwards and when you factor in his strength and athleticism, Iguodala has a top notch set of physical abilities which make him one of the best defenders in the entire league.
Iguodala’s first job when he laces them up everynight is to guard the opposing team’s best player. It could be Kobe Bryant one night and LeBron James the next, but so goes the life of a lockdown defender in today’s game. Andre has done a solid job of stopping those guys, or at least slowing them down, which is really all you can when you face talent like that, over the past few seasons though his numbers did drop a bit last season as the 76ers faced a big dropoff from being a playoff team in 2009 to a lottery team in 2010.
That being said, there’s no reason to think Iguodala will not return to top flight defensive status next season for a few reasons. First off, the 76ers will have a new head coach next seasons with Doug Collins. After talking with Collins a couple of times this summer it was clear that he was committed to making Philadelphia elite in one aspect of the game: defense. So, with a defensive minded coach on the sidelines for the first time in Andre’s career, one would have to think his individual defense as well as the defensive play of his teammates, which has as much of a factor on individual defensive success as does the skill of a particular player, will improve drastically.
Secondly, the addition of Evan Turner and development of Jrue Holiday will give Iguodala some solid perimeter defenders to help him slow down opposing backcourts. With Lou Williams and Jason Kopono at PG and SG, Andre was the lone defender in Philly but that will change this season. Both Holiday and Turner are young but the tools they possess are fit for a defensive style and with Doug Collins coaching them, their strengths should be brought out. Holiday is long and athletic and has a size advantage over a lot of point guards excluding the rare Russell Westbrook types and Turner, like Iguodala, is six-foot-seven with a strong frame and a great understanding of how to play defensively.
And thirdly, like it was with Dwyane Wade, LeBron James and Carmelo Anthony when they came back from Beijing, even though Andre is already a solid defender, his time with Team USA should allow him to take another step forward on that end of the floor. Whether its who is teaching them or a new found joy playing it, USA Basketball has a reputation for sending players back to their NBA teams as better defenders and Iguodala, after watching him practice and scrimmage for two weeks, seems to be continuing that trend.
Given his defensive reputation and his value on that end of the floor any contributions offensively are a bonus. However, instead of playing the role that Thabo Sefolosha has in Oklahoma City, which is to defend the other team’s best player and hopefully never touch the ball, Iguodala is actually a sound offensive player, though in Philadelphia he is relied on to be the team’s main offensive weapon as well as their anchor defensively, which has been detrimental to him throughout his career. In six seasons, Iguodala has only missed six games, playing the full 82 in five different campaigns while also topping or being close to the top of the list in minutes per game each year.
Even though some of his time in Philly was as the second option behind the other AI, Allen Iverson, that’s a whole lot of playing time as a team’s best offensive and defensive player when perhaps he wasn’t suited for both roles. Iguodala is an explosive athlete which makes him one of the best finishers in the entire league. In transition, you can make the argument that he is the league’s best player due to his uncanny combination of hops and court vision. Considering that Doug Collins wants a lot of his team’s offense to be created by his defense, which means turnovers and fastbreaks, that quality will likely be magnified next season.
Iguodala averaged 17 points a game last season but shot just 43% from the field, down from 47% in 2009, and 31% from three. Andre is at his best when he is attacking the basket where his athleticism allows him to win just about every battle he faces at the rim. From that perspective, as a slasher running back cuts or going to the cup on a pick and roll, Iguodala is a solid offensive player. However, because of a very hot and cold jumpshot, Andre isn’t someone capable of carry an entire offense by himself, something he was asked to do for some parts of the past two seasons. Having seen him for the past two weeks in practice, I can say that his shot does look better and I expect his percentages to go up, but until I see it translate into the NBA I’ll have to rank him as a poor shooter.
Luckily, Andre’s playmaking abilities make up for some of his shooting deficiencies. Iguodala averaged a career high in assists last season with 5.8 helpers per game and ranked above LeBron James (and behind Hedo Turkoglu) in several statistical categories that deal with passing. One positive that came from Iguodala’s responsibility to carry the 76er’s offense was that we were able to see how good of a passer he was. His court vision is elite and the passing combination of he and Turner at the SG/SF spots is going to be one of the more active, creative and fun to watch combos that the NBA has next season.
There is one more attribute that Iguodala possesses as he is a solid rebounder. Thanks to his long arms and aforementioned athletic ability, Andre plays the boards well and is able to beat almost every other small forward in the league to the ball once it comes off the rim. Last season he averaged a career high in rebounds with 6.5 a game. With Samuel Dalembert getting traded to the Sacramento Kings this off-season, even more responsibilities may fall onto Iguodala’s shoulders, but, at least when it comes to rebounding, he may be able to handle it.
Coach K has compared Andre several times to Scottie Pippen this summer because of his role as a defensive specialist with Team USA. Obviously, Mike acknowledged that Iguodala is not as good as Scottie because he isn’t quite as tall but Andre is the perfect fit for the role, both with Team USA and the 76ers. However, somebody will need to step up offensively in order to take the majority of the reps off of Iguodala’s back, which would allow him to slide into that Pippen role while occasionally contributing on offense in situations that best suit his strengths.
Season Age Tm Lg G GS MP FG% 3P% FT% TRB AST STL BLK TOV PF PTS
2004-05 21 PHI NBA 82 82 32.8 .493 .331 .743 5.7 3.0 1.7 0.6 1.7 2.5 9.0
2005-06 22 PHI NBA 82 82 37.6 .500 .354 .754 5.9 3.1 1.6 0.3 1.9 2.4 12.3
2006-07 23 PHI NBA 76 76 40.3 .447 .310 .820 5.7 5.7 2.0 0.4 3.4 2.6 18.2
2007-08 24 PHI NBA 82 82 39.5 .456 .329 .721 5.4 4.8 2.1 0.6 2.6 2.3 19.9
2008-09 25 PHI NBA 82 82 39.9 .473 .307 .724 5.7 5.3 1.6 0.4 2.7 1.9 18.8
2009-10 26 PHI NBA 82 82 38.9 .443 .310 .733 6.5 5.8 1.7 0.7 2.7 1.8 17.1
Career NBA 486 486 38.1 .464 .321 .751 5.8 4.6 1.8 0.5 2.5 2.2 15.9
Season MP PER TS% TRB% AST% STL% BLK% TOV% USG% ORtg DRtg OWS DWS WS
2004-05 2686 13.5 .580 9.7 14.3 2.6 1.4 17.9 12.8 110 102 2.7 4.0 6.6
2005-06 3086 14.8 .598 9.1 12.9 2.3 0.5 15.4 14.7 115 108 4.9 2.6 7.5
2006-07 3062 18.1 .562 8.5 23.8 2.6 0.8 17.5 22.6 107 105 4.1 3.6 7.7
2007-08 3242 19.0 .543 8.2 20.3 2.8 1.2 12.5 23.8 110 105 5.3 4.4 9.6
2008-09 3269 18.4 .560 8.6 22.4 2.1 0.9 13.9 22.3 112 108 5.6 3.5 9.2
2009-10 3192 17.8 .535 9.8 23.7 2.3 1.4 14.3 21.8 108 109 4.0 2.8 6.7
Career 18537 17.0 .559 9.0 19.7 2.5 1.0 14.9 19.9 110 106 26.5 20.8 47.2
Andre Iguodala ranked in the top 100 in hand off, off screen, post-up, isolation and pick and roll defense last season, according to Synergy Sports Technology. LeBron James, who was selected as the small forward on the All-NBA Defense team only ranked higher than Andre in isolation and off screen defense last season. Overall, Iguodala only surrendered .9 points per possession and only gave up more than 1.0 against spot up shooters (1.08).
Iguodala’s ability to distribute the basketball is well represented by his assist ratio, which is the percentage of a player’s possessions that ends in an assist. At the small forward spot, only Hedo Turkoglu’s ratio of 25.3 was greater than Andre’s 23.6 ratio. LeBron James ranked right behind Iguodala with a ratio of 23.4. Andre also possesses a passer rating of 9.3, which is figured taking into account turnovers that come as a result of bad passes as well as what kind of shots his assists lead to. That number is barely behind Dwyane Wade, who is viewed as a great passer.
Andre also ranks in the top 20 in the league in rebound rate, which is the percentage of missed shots that a player rebounds, with a rebound rate of 9.8%. Iguodala has an 18 player rating when it comes to rebounding, a stat that factors in how many chances Andre had to pull down a board as well as the percentage of them he came down with. By comparison, Iguodala is just a 1.8 rating behind LeBron James who is seen as a great rebounder for a small forward.
Thanks to his size and athletic ability, Iguodala has the ability to play three positions, shooting guard, small forward and even a little power forward. His PER48/OPPPER48 at each position was in his favor last season, with a +5.2 advantage at SG (21.5/16.4), a +2.9 advantage at SF (18.8/15.9), and a 6.2 advantage at power forward (26.1/19.9). Iguodala spent 51% of his available minutes at the small forward spot last season and put up averages of 20 points, eight rebounds and seven assists per 48 minutes.
Andre’s biggest weakness and flaw comes when you analyze his shooting percentages from different ranges on the floor. At the rim, Iguodala is one of the league’s elite finishers but elsewhere he has struggled. Last season, from 10 to 15 feet, Andre shot just 29%, according to HoopData. Additionally, he shot just 39% from 16-23 feet and 31% from three-point range. His versatility is amazing when it comes to his ability to pass, rebound and defend, but shooting is the one thing holding him back from being an elite all around player. Having seen him shooting this summer, though, I’d say there’s a reasonable chance those numbers are higher next season.
Offense: 5 out of 10 – Iguodala struggles shooting the basketball but if he gets that attribute up to average this season, which is something I am expecting him to do, he will be an elite offensive player thanks to his athletic ability and excellent ball handling/distributing skills.
Defense: 9 out of 10 – He’s not thought of a lockdown defender like Ron Artest or Gerald Wallace but Iguodala is an elite defensive player in the NBA and has shown his commitment to that end of the floor. With a better defensive team around him this upcoming season, expect him to flourish on this end of the floor.
Overall: 14 out of 20 – Iguodala is one of the NBA’s most underrated players even though his contract, which has been ridiculed since the moment it was signed, represents that of an elite player. However, after this off-season’s happenings, that contract doesn’t seem so bad and Philly is getting a solid offensive player and one of the game’s best defensive talents in return.