The Golden State Warriors are the best team in the NBA. They’re the defending champions. At 44-14, they trail the Houston Rockets by a half game for the league’s best record heading into the All-Star break and lead the league in net rating.
Still, something is off.
Maybe it’s that no team can stay motivated to play at a 73-9 pace for three straight seasons. Perhaps the fans have gotten a little bit spoiled expecting the Warriors to do that.
The biggest glaring weakness is the bench, which has not performed to the level Golden State has grown accustomed to over the years. 2015 Finals MVP Andre Iguodala headlines that unit and is a key component to its lackluster play.
The Warriors may be good enough to coast during the regular season, but to get back to their ways of world domination, they need the old Iguodala back. His all-around production is a necessity, not a luxury.
If he remains this Tony Allen version of himself, defenses will play off him and make the Warriors go four-on-five. He won’t be able to hold his own in the playoffs, and Golden State will be forced to scramble to find a fifth piece of the puzzle at an inopportune time.
His shooting has been the most glaring drop-off in his game. He appears to have lost faith in his jump shot, which has been a nice weapon for him during his five seasons in the Bay Area.
Shooting 35.4 percent, roughly league-average, from deep on 2.6 three-point attempts per game in his first four seasons in Golden State, but he has Wile E Coyote’d in 2017-2018. Now, Iguodala is shooting more like Andre Roberson at 22.9 percent on 1.7 attempts per game this season.
All of this is contributing to a career low in points per shot attempt, where he dropped from the 99th percentile to the 31st. If he weren’t finishing around the rim at a 67.3 percent rate, he’d be even worse.
Though Iguodala never relied on his jumper, his unwillingness to shoot it has led to a minus-0.4 on/off net rating, meaning the Warriors are slightly worse with him on the court, and plays like this show you why:
While Iguodala is not a sniper from beyond the arc, he’s never shot below 31 percent for a season. He’s in a serious funk, but the fact that he’s been so bad should at least leave room for some regression toward the mean. The Warriors had better hope so, because if he can’t shoot, he may become unplayable during the postseason, taking away the team’s most dangerous weapon: the Death Lineup.
Iguodala’s half-court offense is in the 15th percentile. He’s been having a hard time contributing without a reliable—or even passable—jump shot. That will have to change.
For the regular season, the Warriors are skating by while finding ways to utilize Iguodala, even if he isn’t producing at his usual level.
His passing has never been the issue. Since his second season, Iguodala has consistently been in the 83rd percentile or better in assist percentage, and while he’s been pretty miserable in half-court production, when you include assists, he shoots up the charts to the 79th percentile.
Ultimately, the lack of shooting outside the paint is what’s killing Iguodala. To help boost his efficiency, the Warriors need to keep getting him easy buckets and find ways to involve him in the offense so he isn’t standing in the corner uncovered. And if there’s any team that can help create easy shots just by virtue of its shooting gravity on the floor, it’s the Warriors.
The easiest way to get those buckets is in transition. But Iguodala is scoring slightly over a point per possession, which ranks in the 40th percentile. But he’s still springy enough and, more importantly, is great at finding one of the sharpshooters trailing the play.
The Warriors have also been using Iguodala as a roll man—he can either get his own bucket going toward the basket or spray it out to a shooter.
It must be nice playing with that Stephen Curry dude.
Iguodala is not playing anything close to his best basketball, and luckily, the Warriors are more than good enough to get away with some regular-season struggles. At age 34, a player who relies heavily on explosive athleticism is likely to experience some age-related decline. Iguodala’s athleticism hasn’t been the issue, though; his shooting has.
No matter how creative head coach Steve Kerr gets during the regular season, Iguodala’s production becomes all the more valuable in the playoffs. If he can’t find a rhythm with his jump shot, he will be targeted, and it will be much harder for Kerr to work around his limitations shooting the ball over the course of a seven-game series.
It’s great that Iguodala can play de facto point guard and defend multiple positions. And he’s shown himself to be pretty good in a player-coach role.
But in today’s NBA, floor spacing is crucial, and the Warriors won’t be able to play him if he can’t do that. Maybe the Warriors can try Nick Young, Patrick McCaw or Shaun Livingston to sprinkle in various forms of offense, but Iguodala’s playmaking coupled with what used to be a reliable three-point shot created one of the most dangerous lineups in league history.
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February 15, 2018 at 06:29AM