The addition of Andre Iguodala vaults the up-and-coming Golden State Warriors into here-and-now territory because of all the things he does, particularly defensively. But it's the subsequent loss of Jarrett Jack that made the signing especially critical for the organization. Needing a secondary playmaker to take on the point guard responsibilities needed to unleash Stephen Curry's shooting, the Warriors will find that Iguodala's ability to handle the ball in half-court sets is much-needed.
Golden State's half-court offensive identity involves moving Curry and Thompson off the ball. The most notorious of their many screen-heavy sets for the duo is the "elevator doors" play, which is an effective way to free them to fire away unguarded from three-point range. Who was most often the player finding Curry with perfectly-timed pass? Jack. Jack, Curry's former "small ball" backcourt teammate, assisted Curry on 98 field goals through the 2012-2013 season. The second-highest on the "assists to Steph" list was David Lee at 71, and Klay Thompson, with 31, was a distant third. Jack also assisted on 97 field goals for Thompson, according to NBA.com.
Here's an example of Jack's importance on the "Elevator Doors" play. This set is initiated after Curry passes to the elbow big man, Lee in this case. Curry then curls around the perimeter and into the paint. Jack rotates closer to the top of the arc for a clear passing lane to Curry, who prepares to shoot back out to three-point range:
Jack hits Curry with an accurate pass and Shannon Brown is behind the play, having to maneuver through Carl Landry and Lee, who have set a wall of screens for Curry. Curry lines up the open-look and drains the three:
Enter Iguodala, who should slide into the Jack role despite not being a point guard by label. Iguodala assisted Nuggets point guard Ty Lawson 51 times through their lone season together, the highest of any player on the team. Igudoala averaged 5.4 assists per game last season overall, just .2 less than Jack.
But that's just one way Iguodala's playmaking will help the Warriors. Iguodala can also draw defenders away from Curry and Thompson with his dribble penetration, which Jack was less able to do. He doesn't need a pillar in front of him when he's working around a screen, as shown by Andre Miller's tentative screen in the pick and roll below:
Still, the threat of Iguodala driving to the rim draws the attention of nearly the entire Toronto Raptors' defense:
There's not a defender within 10 feet of Lawson when Iguodala kicks out to him. Lawson drains the open look created from the pick-and-roll penetration:
Video of the play:
It's also important that Iguodala will be able to handle the ball on the fast break for the Warriors. Curry and Thompson leaking out on the wings while Iguodala brings the ball up will be the most effective way for the Warriors to use their sharpshooting duo in the open floor. Golden State put up 348 transition threes as a team and connected on 41 percent of them.
Here's an example of Iguodala handling the ball in transition, allowing his shooters to spot-up. The Philadelphia 76ers are adjusting for Iguodala as he crosses half court. Evan Turner, who should be keeping a body on Corey Brewer, has his head turned to Iguodala. This is to prevent Iguodala from slicing into the paint behind the initial defenders. But Iguodala sees this and makes a beautiful diagonal pass to Brewer instead.
Turner is behind the play, having lost track of Brewer. This leads to an open three:
Here's video of the play:
Now, imagine Curry, Thompson or Harrison Barnes in Brewer's place. You can see why this will work so well. The attention Iguodala draws in transition, and his ability to read the defense and make the right pass, will make defending a streaking Thompson, Curry and/or Harrison Barnes a major challenge.
Golden State's transition attack was already in elite territory, as they scored 1.15 points per possession on such plays, according to MySynergySports.com. The fast-paced offense the Warriors played in -- Golden State was fourth in the league with an average of 94.5 possessions per game -- will be a great tempo for Iguodala.
Iguodala isn't an elite three-point shooter -- a characteristic that defines the Warriors' identity -- but his ability to handle the ball while Curry and Thompson get to their spots on the perimeter, not to mention his dribble-penetration skills that will naturally draw defenders away from the Splash Brothers, make him a great fit in an offensive gameplan built around shooters working off-ball to create space.