After a season in which the Golden State Warriors far exceeded expectations by not only making the playoffs, but advancing to the Western Conference Semifinals and pushing the eventual Western Conference champion San Antonio Spurs to six games, the Warriors made a big offseason splash as well: the franchise signed versatile swingman Andre Iguodala.
Iguodala is not the biggest name to switch teams this offseason, but he might be the one who makes the most sense for its team. He brings a variety of intangibles to a young Warriors team who at times looked like they could have used some veteran leadership down the stretch.
The Warriors’ starting backcourt a season ago consisted of 25-year-old Stephen Curry, 23-year-old Klay Thompson, and 21-year-old Harrison Barnes. Iguodala, who is a 29-year-old, nine-year veteran, will bring some valuable leadership to the very young Warriors squad who looked outmatched at times by Gregg Popovich and the veteran Spurs.
“Iggy” brings a lot to the Warriors on both sides of the ball. The Warriors possessed one of the NBA’s most potent offenses last season, and their defense was much improved, but adding Iguodala gives them a lockdown perimeter defender that they can put on the elite scorers of the league such as LeBron James, Kobe Bryant, and Kevin Durant. The Warriors lacked a lockdown perimeter defender last season and Iguodala averaged almost two steals and a block per game last season with the Nuggets, so he will no doubt be a nice defensive weapon.
Offensively, Iguodala gives the Nuggets another playmaker. Last year, Curry was the primary ball-handler, and at times had to carry the team through tough stretches on almost every possession. However, with the addition of Iguodala, Curry will not have to make every play down the stretch in close games. Iguodala has the ability to attack the hoop and finish strong, but he also has a knack for finding the open guy as he averaged almost six assists per-36 minutes last season. This ability will make things much easier for Curry and Thompson who should find themselves getting even more open looks from 3-point range this season. Look out for this explosive offense to lead the league in points per game.
As much as he can help the Warriors on both sides of the ball, one of the most valuable things about Iguodala is his versatility. When needed, he can run the point in short stretches, he can be the go-to scorer at times, he can find the open shooter, and he can play three positions on both sides of the ball, giving head coach Mark Jackson lots of flexibility with the lineups Golden State can throw out there. Iguodala can be the point guard in a tall lineup or even power forward in a small-ball lineup and everywhere in between. The lineup scenarios seem endless with this Warriors team, and much of it is because of Iguodala’s versatility.
The Iguodala signing also allows youngster Harrison Barnes to come off the bench as the sixth man for the Warriors, which will take a lot of the pressure off Barnes to play big minutes and put up big numbers and will allow the second year player some time to grow and develop behind Iguodala. Moving Barnes to the bench strengthens the Warriors’ second unit, and Barnes could be a guy who could be a legitimate Sixth Man of the Year candidate.
Although big names like Dwight Howard and Josh Smith will be donning new jerseys next season, it is Andre Iguodala who should be looked at as the free agent who could make the most noticeable impact on his new team.