03/20/12 6:18 pm EST
“I write that piece at least annually,” Derrick Bodner of Liberty Ballers told me a couple months ago, after I complimented a post he’d written explaining why Iguodala is much better than most of us appreciate.
The reason Bodner wrote that one, and I just wrote this one, is because he is.
The issue is perception.
The problem with Iguodala, or I should say the problem with us, is two fold: 1.) Andre’s been the best (and usually highest paid) player on teams that generally haven’t been very good and 2.) basketball fans (or coaches, or GMs) don’t do a very good job recognizing the contributions of players who don’t score.
The first one isn’t really our fault. The second one is.
Back in January, when the Sixers were winning games by 30 every time out and we were all desperately trying to make sense of how a starless team was doing the undoable, there was one comparison we could latch onto to explain what we were seeing: The 2004 Pistons.
The analogy made sense, supposedly, because both the Pistons and Sixers were superstarless but dominant. The analogy makes sense, actually, because both teams had superstars whose stardom went unnoticed by the masses: Ben Wallace produced 17.7 wins for the Pistons that championship season, good for second in the NBA, while Andre Iguodala has produced 8.8 wins so far this season for the 76ers, 5th best in the association.
So with these thought swishing in my head, I wrote a long but, I think, worthwhile piece for our Truehoop sister site Hoopspeak on old Andre.
Here’s a taste:
Andre Iguodala didn’t really figure it out until he went to Turkey.
After a few post-Iverson seasons of forced shots, the metaphoric jamming of a square peg into a round hole, and the literal jamming of a small round thing into a distant round hole, in that 2010 FIBA tournament, he had a sort of epiphany: rather than squander his energy on the areas of the game that he was least likely to impact, why not narrow his focus to those that he could?
And so he did. Offense de-emphasized, he was suddenly freed to race around the court wreaking havoc defensively and in transition, demonstrating his excellence by denying opponents theirs. Krzyzewski, it turns out, had given Iguodala permission to be Iguodala. It worked, both as basketball and philosophy. The team won nine straight on their way to the gold and Iguodala was, in some circles, the talk of the tournament.
That following season, when Doug Collins took over the Sixers, he pulled his best player aside and asked him to continue playing the way he had that summer. The player obliged him. And so this old/new approach to the game—taking scoring opportunities as they come, not forcing them when they don’t, the wisdom to know the difference, became fully his. In ‘10’-’11, Iguodala attempted only 11.3 shots a game after averaging 14.4 the previous three seasons. He had the lowest usage rate of his career. He attempted 2.7 three-pointers a game after firing 3.7 the year before.
And a season after winning 27 games, Philadelphia closed 38-28.
If you want, you can read the rest here.