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Warriors, Andre Iguodala

Editorials

Andre Iguodala is the Warriors’ X-Factor for the remainder of the postseason

Andre Iguodala is the Warriors’ X-Factor for the remainder of the postseason

Maybe it’s the hot yoga or the cryotherapy Andre Iguodala does during the offseason. After all, yoga is about mindfulness and putting energy and focus into certain body movements.

Whatever it is, Iguodala is showing his tremendous value come postseason time against the Clippers, and now, against James Harden and the Houston Rockets. It seems as if the energy and focus he has when performing yoga is helping him tremendously when defending elite offensive players such as Lou Williams and Harden.

In the 2019 postseason so far, Iguodala is averaging 11.3 points, 4.0 rebounds, 4.3 assists, 1.0 steals and 1.1 blocks per game. These are average numbers for some NBA players, but for Iguodala and his role with the Warriors at age 35, is a massive bonus in production during the postseason. It has helped considering the foul trouble that has plagued Stephen Curry in these playoffs.

Compare those numbers to last postseason and it is dramatically different. The former Arizona Wildcat averaged 8.1 points, 4.5 rebounds. 2.7 assists, 1.4 steals and 0.5 blocks.

But for the 2015 Finals MVP, his impact on the floor goes beyond the statistics.

He is still one of the best defensive wing players in the league at his age. His intelligence of knowing what the offensive player is going to do before the play happens and being in the correct rotational spot is one of the intangibles that makes Iguodala such a stout and renowned defender. Another aspect, is his hands and how he positions his hands to get deflections, or how he strips defenders of the basketball.

Take this play for instance.

Danilo Gallinari posts up Iguodala because he has the size advantage against him. However, Iguodala uses his body positioning well to bump him a little bit off of his spot. Draymond Green dekes like he is going to help, but stays home to the shooter. Curry does the same. When Gallinari rises to shoot, Iguodala strips him with his strong and quick hands to get the steal.

Iguodala’s defensive positioning, intelligence and experience, length and strength make him one of the toughest defenders in the league. With these tools in his arsenal, Iguodala (or Klay Thompson) will be tasked with slowing down the other team’s best scorer and player.

Against Williams in the Clippers series, Iguodala guarded him for 27.3 seconds of a possession over the six games played. Williams shot 33.3 percent from the field against him, including an abysmal 25 percent from beyond the arc. The team point differential when Iguodala defended Williams was a -7.4 points.

Here is one play where Andre Iguodala guards Williams very well and blocks the shot.

In the clip above, Iguodala defends Williams in a way to not foul him. He stays with the smaller guard with his quickness and defensive instincts. Iguodala tracks Williams until the last second when Williams decides to shoot it and Iguodala uses his length to block the shot and ignite a fast break.

In the second round of this postseason, Iguodala has to defend a bigger and stronger Lou Williams-type of player, Harden. Harden is sneaky and shifty with his dribbling moves, an ability to lull defenders to sleep and drive by them for a floater or layup. The reigning MVP also has his patented stepback that several defenders lean backwards before they realize Harden is about to execute his stepback move.

However, so far, through the first couple of games, the 2015 Finals MVP has helped slow down one of the most gifted offensive players in the league. Iguodala has defended Harden for 36 seconds of the possessions in the two games thus far in the Western Conference Semifinals, which has produced favorable results for Iguodala and the Warriors. Harden has shot 27.8 percent from the field, including 12.5 percent from the three-point line when defended by Iguodala.

Although Klay Thompson would usually defend the other team’s best player, Steve Kerr made the decision to start Iguodala and unloading his vaunted Hamptons 5 lineup. It has eased some of the pressure off Thompson to focus on defending Chris Paul, another great offensive player, just not the scorer that Harden is.

On the offensive end, Iguodala is playing as well as he’s played in the past few postseasons. He is the recipient of several lob dunks against the Rockets. He is the calming influence and organizer on the team when they are in a rut. Many of his lob dunks come off of Draymond Green’s decision-making when Curry gets double-teamed at halfcourt.

In the play above, Thompson gets double-teamed, Green slips the screen and receives the pass from Thompson. PJ Tucker takes a step toward Green, which allows him to throw the lob pass to Iguodala.

In this play, Curry gets doubled by the Rockets and passes it to Green, who immediately notices that Iguodala is wide open and throws the lob, which he hammers down. It has become a staple of the Warriors offense because opposing teams want to eliminate Curry’s shooting ability and effectiveness as a scorer.

The offensive scoring that Iguodala is just icing on the cake for the Warriors with all of the firepower the team possesses. His perimeter defense is other-worldly. Iguodala has one more year on his contract that he signed at the end of the 2016-2017 season. It would be wise if Warriors general manager Bob Myers signed Iguodala to a short-term deal for his veteran presence, leadership, defensive savvy and overall value in the playoffs.