It’s no secret the Golden State Warriors could use some experienced, versatile reinforcements off the bench as their quest for back-to-back titles continues. Maybe that much-needed extra support, though, won’t have to come via trade after all.
Andre Iguodala made his long-awaited season debut in Saturday’s ugly loss to the Orlando Magic, going scoreless with two rebounds, one assist and two turnovers in 12 minutes off the bench. Obvious as his rust proved after his most recent game action came in last season’s NBA Finals, there was still one crucial detail to take from Iguodala’s first game in seven months: Where he fit in the Warriors’ rotation.
Iguodala entered three-and-a-half minutes into the first quarter of Saturday’s game, suggesting he’d be a fixture off the bench going forward when available to play. Did Golden State playing without Steph Curry, Klay Thompson and Jonathan Kuminga (among others) factor into the 38-year-old’s substitution pattern, though? Either way, Steve Kerr made clear on Monday that Iguodala will have a regular role for the Warriors as long as he’s suited up.
“He came out of the game fine. He practiced fully today, scrimmaged, so he’s doing well,” Kerr said of Iguodala. “It’s hard to predict minutes, but he’ll definitely be part of the rotation, and we’ll just take it game to game.”
The notion that Iguodala would be more than player-coach mentor in the vein of Udonis Haslem is hardly new. He emphasized as much even before announcing he’d return for one final season, just like he did that Kuminga and Moses Moody—who Iguodala has enthusiastically taken under his wing—would have to beat him out for playing time after finally making his plans known just two days before training camp.
Still, it’s telling of the Warriors’ depth issues that Kerr seems so confident about Iguodala’s place in the rotation. Will he play in front of Anthony Lamb off the bench when Golden State is at full-strength? Does his presence relegate Moody—and JaMychal Green, depending on team and lineup-specific matchups—to full-time bench-warmers?
We’re poised to learn more about Iguodala’s role with the Warriors during Tuesday’s game against the Phoenix Suns, for which he’s listed as probable. A more revealing indication of his place in the rotational pecking order, though, won’t come until Kuminga and Green make their likely returns from injury at some point over the next few games.