The Golden State Warriors completed one of the biggest surprises of the summer when they were able to shed $24 million worth of salary to clear space for Andre Iguodala. They lost two unprotected first-round draft pick in the process, but sending Andris Biedrins, Brandon Rush and Richard Jefferson away to make a snug spot in the salary sheet for Iguodala was downright devious, Mr. Jerry West.
Iguodala is out indefinitely with a strained hamstring, though, which is a bit of a setback for Golden State. It's a tough loss for the team early in the season because he's key in both their offense and defense. The Warriors' offense averages 14.7 more points per 100 possessions when he's on the court, and collectively the team experiences an astounding plus-29.7 plus/minus swing with him on the floor, according to the NBA's media-only stats website. It's unfortunate that he's out, but the injury won't require surgery and the Warriors don't need to push him to return until he's fully healthy.
Iguodala has made an immediate impact on the Warriors while teams like the Detroit Pistons and Brooklyn Nets struggle with their revamped rosters. He's averaging the most minutes per game on the team and is in five of the Warriors' six most frequently used lineups. Here's a few of the different looks the Warriors can put on the floor with Iguodala and how they're performing, according to the NBA's media-only stats website:
|Lineup||O RTG||D RTG||Net RTG|
Each of those lineups produces a positive net efficiency rating -- even the lineup without a point guard. One of the reasons Golden State can experiment with a lineup like that is because Iguodala has done a great job of moonlighting as the Warriors' "other" point guard.
Golden State lost their secondary ball-handler, Jarrett Jack, during free agency, but the team transitioned smoothly by plugging Iguodala into a facilitator role. He's averaging 6.3 assists per game, tied with his previous career-high. We took a look at how he should fit with the Warriors theoretically as a ball-handler over the summer and it's immediately translated. The Warriors offense is averaging 109.1 points per 100 possessions while he's on the floor, according to the NBA's media-only stats website. That's 3.9 points per 100 better than Jack's on-court offensive rating last season. Golden State also averages 10.4 more assists per 48 minutes while he's on the floor -- more than the 8.4 assist differential Stephen Curry makes up.
Let's take a look at where Iguodala's assists are being distributed and how it compares to what Jack did for Golden State last season. Jack accounted for 38 percent of the total assists to Curry, 23 percent to Klay Thompson, 19 percent to David Lee and 12 percent to Andrew Bogut last season. Here's how Iguodala compares:
Iguodala is responsible for a higher percentage of assists to every player. This allows Thompson and Curry to work off-ball instead of constantly handling the ball or creating their own shots, an important aspect of what makes Golden State so deadly on offense.
The ball-handling was expected, but what's most surprising about Iguodala's new role with the Warriors is how incredibly efficient he's been from the field. He's currently fifth in the league in true shooting percentage at 65.6 percent, according to Basketball-Reference. The Warriors don't have to force the scoring load onto him, allowing him to pick his spots. He's averaging the seventh-lowest field goal attempts per 36 minutes on the Warriors at 8.2. That's actually lower than both Toney Douglas and Kent Bazemore and the lowest total since his second season in the NBA when he averaged eight attempts per 36, per Basketball-Reference.
We know that he's one of the most efficient shooters in the league right now, so where is he fitting in as a scorer? Looking over Iguodala's play usage breakdown from Synergy Sports Technology shows that 63.5 percent of his shot types can be broken down into three categories:
|Play Type||Usage Rate||Points Per Possessions|
The majority of his field goal attempts are coming in transition, but where he's doing the most damage is spot-up shooting. He currently ranks first overall in spot-up shooting points per possession, averaging 1.9 points per spot-up attempt, according to Synergy Sports Technology. Igudoala has made 20 of his 30 spot-up attempts and is shooting 65.5 percent from beyond the arc as a spot up three-point shooter.
Here's how he compares to a handful of the NBA's best spot-up shooters:
Iguodala has not only been a great facilitator within the offense, but he's now a serious spot-up threat from the perimeter. He's currently shooting 47.1 percent from beyond the arc, well above his previous career-high of 39.1 percent while tying a career-high in 3.7 three-point attempts per game. He's shooting a high volume of threes at a high efficiency, no doubt a product of the attention Curry, Thompson, Lee and Bogut draw away from him while he lurks along the arc.
Iguodala's passing and shooting are just the icing on the cake for the Warriors, though, because he is also an elite perimeter defender. His incredible defensive instincts make him the centerpiece of the team's defense. Look at the way he fights through Steven Adams' screen for Kevin Durant, closes out on the perimeter, shades him into Bogut and forces a tough shot:
Or how about this play, a perfect example of his defensive awareness. He sees Serge Ibaka inching toward Durant and opens his defensive stance preemptively so he can chase Durant baseline and navigate around the screen if it's set. Durant barely has time to put up a shot once he swings out to the top of the arc:
Numbers alone can't quantify the value in phenomenal defensive plays like the two above, but here's something to chew on: When Iguodala is on the court, the Warriors allow a stingy 95.4 points per 100 possessions, per the NBA's media-only stats website. The Warriors are allowing 100.4 points per 100 possessions, good for fifth overall in the NBA, according to Basketball Reference. That's 5.1 points better than last season when they were the ranked 14th in defensive efficiency.
He's holding opponents to 25-percent shooting after coming off a screen and 39.6 percent on spot-up shooting, according to Synergy Sports Technology. The Warriors have a lockdown defender to chase around the Kevin Durants, Tony Parkers and Wesley Matthews of the league. Is it any coincidence that Matthews went 5-of-6 from beyond the arc when the Warriors hosted the Trail Blazers without Iguodala?
His hamstring injury certainly put a damper on the Warriors' start to the season, but that's all right for Golden State. He's already proven to be a fantastic investment who fits into the team in so many different ways. The Warriors can unchain Thompson and Curry in half-court sets while Iguodala handles the ball, he's an incredibly effective release valve for the offense from beyond the arc and he's a defensive stopper who can slow down the elite offensive teams and players around the league.
Sometimes, fit happens. Other times, well ...
The top-five players in three-point shooting percentage, minimum 20 attempts total according to the NBA's media-only stats website:
|San Antonio Spurs||Marco Belinelli||33||54.5%|
|New Orleans Pelicans||Ryan Anderson||26||53.8%|
|Atlanta Hawks||Kyle Korver||70||52.9%|
|Phoenix Suns||PJ Tucker||39||51.3%|
|Orlando Magic||Arron Afflalo||69||50.7%|
The bottom-five players in three-point shooting percentage, minimum three attempts per game according to the NBA's media-only stats website:
|Milwaukee Bucks||Nate Wolters||20||10%|
|Minnesota Timberwolves||Alexey Shved||20||15%|
|Philadelphia 76ers||Evan Turner||39||15.4%|
|Chicago Bulls||Luol Deng||35||17.1%|
|Boston Celtics||Kelly Olynyk||22||18.2%|