Andre Iguodala's statistics do not stand out. In fact, he's averaging career lows in most offensive categories. It's easy to write him off based on stat-sheets and by looking at his player-friendly contract. Many people do it. Go ahead and get mad at him for passing on some shots, making a few questionable passes, and his horrid free throw shooting, but you cannot deny the significance he has had and continues to have on the Golden State Warriors.
Despite starting in over 800 games during his electrifying 10-year career, Steve Kerr has decided to have Iguodala play the 6th man role for the Dubs this season. Harrison Barnes was benched last season in favor of putting Iguodala in the starting lineup; Barnes struggled heavily. Going through a massive sophomore slump, the Warriors were worried that keeping Barnes on the bench again this year would further stunt his growth. Coach Kerr made sure that did not happen to the former North Carolina star.
Kerr spoke to Iguodala and without much hesitation, Iguodala accepted the role of being a bench player. Much to his avail, Barnes has been playing better compared to last season. He's averaging 11.2 points per game on 52% shooting from the field. Kerr's new offensive system has helped most of the team find strides in efficiency due to rapid ball movement and constantly moving without the ball in their hands.
Iguodala is usually the first player off the bench. Not being the athlete he once was (although he did have a nasty dunk on Luke Babbitt the other night), Iguodala avoids driving to the basket. This causes frustration at times for avid viewers of the team. Stephen Curry says he tells Iguodala to be more aggressive to the rim. Shooting just under 50% below the free throw line could be the reason why Iguodala has been passive in terms of attacking the basket. This is where Iguodala's stats don't show his true worth.
First of all, going to the bench from the starting lineup can be extremely difficult for a guy who's been in the league for a decade. Iguodala caused no problems and listened to his new coach. He's never had problems meshing with teammates. When he was with the Philadelphia 76ers to start his career, he helped all the rookies who came onto the squad. He was mature from the start. It has continued throughout his career to the point where he has been elected as one of the captains on the Warriors despite not being in the starting lineup.
Klay Thompson is becoming one of the better two-way players in the NBA. Some of the credit goes to Iguodala. He challenges him in practice and has helped his game take the next step. The two-time All-Defensive team player also takes pressure off of Curry and Thompson in big games. He is capable of defending the other team's best player; whether it's a pesky guard or lanky forward, Iguodala will get the job done. Warriors play-by-play broadcaster Bob Fitzgerald calls Iguodala one of the smartest players he has ever seen play. He can also create for others. Curry and Thompson are two of the best shooters in the NBA; it's extremely vital to get them the ball in their spots. Iguodala's point-forward ability is crucial for the team. He knows when to make the extra pass and how to run a fast-break the right way, either being the distributor, finisher, or simply a decoy.
Iguodala is obviously not afraid of the big moments. He has made several clutch shots for the Warriors during his brief stint thus far. He has helped set up shots too. He shoots only 43% from the field this season, but most of that is because he takes a couple of threes per game. He shoots 51% on two-point field goals, something that should continue to be a point of emphasis in his scoring game this season. But Kerr wants his guys to remain aggressive and with the ball movement the Warriors possess, Iguodala will continue to get good looks from beyond the arc and eventually he will find his groove.
With David Lee returning from an injury soon, he might be coming off the bench in favor of Draymond Green. With Iguodala setting the tone and showing that he can sit on the bench in favor of an upcoming, young player that can have a potential future in Golden State, it could cause Lee to do the same. Kerr will stick with Green if the Warriors continue to roll the way they have been this season. If Iguodala will come off the bench with no complaints and get his job done, it could rub off on Lee and he could be used with the second unit.
Leadership is another trait Iguodala clearly brings to the table. With everyone on the team riding high during Golden State's phenomenal start to the season, Iguodala has been nitpicking. He wants to get better and better, individually and team wise to help take the Warriors to an elite level. This is a great sign; you need players to be hungry and never satisfied until they bring home the trophy in June. Iguodala is worthy of that trophy after an underrated career so far. He is one of the more valuable players on the team and one of the reasons the Warriors remain golden.