Nobody can question Andre Iguodala's commitment to the Golden State franchise.
Since coming to the team in 2013, he has played any role the team has asked him to, from primary ball handler to defensive stopper. He has come off the bench for Steve Kerr with little to no complaint as the team tried to adjust Harrison Barnes into a primary contributor. He has been a vocal leader on and off the court, and a model member of the franchise.
Iguodala, entering his 13th year in the NBA in the coming season, is far from the dominant athletic scorer that he was back in his earlier years in Philadelphia. He has matured into his new role as the invaluable contributor sitting in the shadows while the Warriors' stars shine bright. This made his 2015 NBA Finals MVP award feel that much better during the title victory, finally giving some love for the consummate professional. Though people complained LeBron contributed more to the Cavs during the Finals, you couldn't help but say, "... but they gave the award to a great, deserving guy in Iggy."
Fast forward to a year later, and Andre is having a hard time staying on the court with back troubles during Games 6 & 7 of the 2016 NBA Finals, worn down from running after James and crew after a long playoff run. Iguodala, who regularly plays around 20 minutes per game, was getting extra run with the shortened roster and the fact that nobody else could stop James in the post. He had barely any jump left his legs, and the Cavs were begging him to shoot wide open jumpers instead of the Splash Brothers. Barnes had just about disappeared in the playoffs completely, and Kerr had no other choice than to let the hobbled Iggy stay on the floor.
AI's season culminated in a fast break that could have brought the Warriors back into the game in the fourth quarter of Game 7, only to see LeBron James add to his history with an unreal block (the highlight is too painful to add and see again). If Iguodala wouldn't have been hobbled, does he dunk that ball instead of going for the layup? Does he have an extra step in him and James isn't able to catch him from behind? Do the Warriors, energized by the dunk, feel more confident from the momentum and swing the game differently?
Who knows... but what we do know is that nobody can question Iguodala's contributions and value to this team. Regardless of the ending, Andre had another solid season for the franchise that he has helped take to the next level. We break it down today in our continuing series breaking down the 2015/2016 season.
Iguodala's season improvements were minor - most of his contributions happen on the defensive end and don't necessarily show up in the stat book. Kerr and staff regularly would bring him in about half way into the first quarter to spell Harrison Barnes, setting up HB to play with the second unit once one of the Splash Brothers would come off the court. Iguodala only averaged 7.0 ppg, a career low. He did improve from the 14/15 campaign in both assists and rebounds, but both are still far below his career averages. Andre's best improvement - a career low in shot attempts per game - was posting one of the highest shooting percentages of his career. Face it: Iguodala is not a scorer on this team, and isn't expected to be.
Potential Future Growth
Iguodala, with an additional all-world scorer on the floor, can continue to play as one of the best supporting cast roles in the league. He should find himself wide open all season as defenders try to find KD, Steph and Klay and as long as he can keep hitting the corner three his career should continue on. He improved his long-range stroke last year in less attempts, but I picture this number going up. He should also not have to be the primary defender at all times - Klay's defense has improved, and KD is a premium defender in a way that Harrison Barnes had yet to become. Look for Iguodala to continue to contribute, but not be counted on as much as in the past (which is a good thing).
What to Expect Next Season
As the team has seen, Iguodala has his best value in controlled doses. He averaged 26.6 mpg, a career low, however this allowed him to save most of his body for when it counts. He is still a key part of the Warriors' best lineup - the Death Lineup - and should be used accordingly. The difference in the coming season is that Kevin Durant, who Andre could primarily spell, will play more minutes than Harrison Barnes did. While you should see both of these players on the floor at the same time, Durant makes Andre's presence on the court less needed, which would allow the staff to reduce Iguodala's minutes down if needed. Iguodala missed games again this year because of a hamstring injury that has seemed to plague him over the course his career. If I am the staff, I get his minutes to around the 20 mpg mark, and try to keep him on the floor for all 82 games instead of needing a weekly night off.
He will continue his role as sixth starter, as the lineup adds Kevin Durant. I think Iguodala will look like he's a few years away from when he was a Sixth Man of the Year candidate, but I still picture his contributions to be large. And think of the Death Lineup with their new KD addition!!
There was a time after KD was signed where many thought there would be a decision about whether the Warriors shoul keep Andre Iguodala to save money. They sat looking at their interchangeable parts - Festus Ezeli, Shaun Livingston, etc. - and some thought Iguodala would be the odd man out. Fortunately, the front office saw the same thing that Warriors fans saw: a key cog to the machine looking for another title.
Iguodala now serves as one of the clubhouse leaders, an outspoken skilled vet who keeps the team's head in the game when the lights shine the brightest. Though he will never be the Iguodala he was in his young career, he stands for what makes this team so good. How many other teams can bring an Olympian, an All-Star, and an NBA Finals MVP off the bench as their sixth man? Warriors fans should enjoy what could be the last year we see Iguodala in a Warriors uniform. He finishes up his four year deal this year for a modest $11M on the books. Sure, he could come back to the team next year on a veteran minimum deal, but chances are another team would offer him more years and more stability.
For now, enjoy Iguodala's vintage game and presence on the floor. The Warriors simply wouldn't be the Warriors without him.