OAKLAND, Calif. — Most teams don’t have the same luxuries that the Golden State Warriors do. We’re not talking state of the art practice facilities or locker room amenities (which are soon to come with the Chase Center). Rather the luxury of being able to help fill the void of losing one former NBA MVP with a former Finals MVP off the bench.
Andre Iguodala’s play in the month of March has been quite advantageous for the Warriors, who saw Kevin Durant go down with a grade 2 MCL sprain in late February. The seasoned veteran has taken his game to another level in the absence of Durant and has been an integral part of the Warriors current seven game win streak.
“I think he’s done a great job of stepping up in KD’s absence and recognizing what we need from him,” said head coach Steve Kerr after the Warriors 103-91 victory over the Memphis Grizzlies on Sunday. “He’s been brilliant.”
Iguodala is averaging 11.6 ppg (.618 FG%, .440 3P%, .701 TS%), 3.9 rpg and 3.2 apg in March. Which is a rather convenient time for his game to ramp up with the NBA playoffs just weeks away.
There are a lot of things that make the Warriors a uniquely dangerous team. However the hidden ace up Steve Kerr’s sleeve is being able to bring a player of Andre Iguodala’s caliber off the bench, a luxury that no other team in the NBA has. He is one of the many pieces that help take this team from being really good to historically great.
“He brings this incredible level of athletic ability and amazing awareness at both ends of the floor. Great defender, recognizes the game, the angles and setting screens,” gawked Kerr. “I think I’ve said it, recently, but Andre’s been our best player here the last few weeks.”
Iguodala is playing the same type of inspired basketball that he did during the Warriors’ championship run in 2015. His play alone is not always overwhelming or in your face, but when added to the sum of the Warriors’ whole the pie becomes almost too sweet to eat.
What might be Iguodala’s most prized skill is his ability to gain a feel for the game while starting on the bench. If the team is flat in the first quarter, Iguodala is expected to give his teammates a jolt to the chest. “I try to read that when I get into the game,” said Iguodala after Sunday’s win over Memphis. “Try to bring that energy, and more than anything lead by example. Not say too much, just show it.”
Steph Curry said that the Warriors feed off of Iguodala’s energy. In fact, after last night’s performance (20 points on 7/8 FG, seven rebounds and four assists) the Warriors are now 16-0 all-time when Iguodala scores at least 20 points.
Golden State currently holds the NBA’s best record at 59-14. They are winners of seven straight games and have a tough week of games ahead of them as they are set to face San Antonio, Houston (twice) and Washington. It could possibly be the last stretch of games that the Warriors play this season without Kevin Durant.
But as the playoffs near, the Warriors will lean on the veteran leadership of Andre Iguodala. “If there’s any message I say verbally to some of the other guys, it’s being locked in. When you’re locked in and have good intentions you know, things will go your way.”