SF Prospect: Andre Iguodala

Published: July 1, 2013

The Basics
Height: 6-7
Wingspan: 6-11
Weight: 217
Experience: 9 years
Teams: 76ers, Nuggets

Quick Hits

  • Elite on ball defender
  • Extremely durable. Played in 695 games, missed just 27 in his career
  • One of the best passing/playmaking wings in the league
  • Free throw attempts and percentage in rapid decline

His Defensive Game and How it Fits

In 2011-12, Andre Iguodala held the man he was guarding to an 8.8 PER; best in the league. I will repeat that, a freaking 8.8 PER! For those not familiar with the stat, a 15.0 PER is average. Jerry Stackhouse, at the age of 92, had a 8.6 PER last season, good for 59th amongst small forwards. So, basically, Andre Iguodala turns starting NBA perimeter players into Jerry Stackhouse. And to show that it wasn’t a fluke, he did even better this season, as he held them to a PER of just 6.9. That is Keith Bogans teritorry people.

In perhaps the greatest piece every written about an NBA defender, Matt Moore of CBS Sports dove deep into what makes Iguodala such a great defender. Moore points out that the Nuggets are eight points better per 100 possessions with Iguodala on the floor, as opposed to off, and cites the fact that he is top-5 in the league in both defending players in isolation and creating turnovers in the pick and roll. All of those stats are great, but what really stands out is Iguodala’s incredible defensive IQ in that piece.

Some are concerned that Iguodala is too old (he just turned 29!) and that his game will decline in upcoming years, but as Iguodala states in the piece, defense is at least 70% mental, maybe more. He knows when to gamble and when to play conservative, based on the personnel on the floor with him and the situation. He quickly picks up on opponents tendencies and counters, then gives counters to the counters of the counter. He makes the game incredibly tough for the best scorers in the world, guys who more often than not make the game look so easy against marginal defenders.

The idea of putting him with Eric Gordon and Jrue Holiday on the perimeter is downright scary. Rarely in the NBA has a unit gone from best to worst in one offseason, but the acquisition of Iguodala could legitimately put the Pelicans in the running for the best perimeter defense in the NBA, right along side the two-time defending champion Miami Heat.

His Offensive Game and How it Fits

While Iguodala is clearly one of the premier defensive free agents, you can’t say the same about him on the offensive end. If you take a look at the shot chart below, you seen an elite finisher at the rim who is an average three-point shooter on the wings, but pretty much horrible everywhere else.



Luckily, Iguodala appears to know what a good shot is, as about 68% of his shots come either at the rim or behind the three-point line. Only two shots per game come in the “dumb zone.” Unfortunately, even though Iguodala gets to the rim quite a bit, he rarely gets to the free throw line. He only visited the charity stripe 3.4 times last season, compared to the 6.6 free throws a game he took back in his early to mid 20’s. Even more disturbing is that he can’t seem to make a free throw anymore. He shot just 57% last year, down from the 77% he shot in that same period when he was actually getting to the line.

There is no way around it, Iguodala is a third or fourth option at best on a championship contender, and he isn’t the type of guy that you can give the ball to late in games and expect him to score. But what he can do is get out in transition, hit the occasional three, and make plays for others. That is really where Iguodala shines on the offensive end, as a playmaker who can attack from the wing and create for his teammates. He was first amongst all starting wing players in assist ratio last season, averaging 5.4 assists last year.

In fact, Iguodala can play point guard in a pinch, as evidenced by the fact that he primarily played there in an eight game stretch when Ty Lawson was out with an injury. He is solid in the pick and roll, but is actually far better isolating. He can break his man down and either finish himself or kick to the perimeter in those situations. He scores and assists at a higher rate in isolation and has a much lower turnover rate as well.

As you could probably predict, the bulk of his efficient scoring comes in transition and off cuts, handoffs, and screens. 37% of his offense comes in one of those situations, where he shoots 64% and scores approximately 1.1 points per possession. His numbers would actually be far better if he could hit from deep in transition, but last year he hit just 3 transition three-pointers, shooting 13%. So, when Iggy is on the break, he is far more effective if he just attacks the hole. Luckily, that is exactly what the Pelicans need as it appears that they will transition from one of the slowest teams in the league to a team that can really push the pace. If that is the plan, there is no better wing player to pursue than Andre Iguodala.

The Contract

In my opinion, this is where it really gets interesting. Demps and Monty would love to add Iguodala to this roster, but they are going to likely have to shed some significant pieces to make it work, and even then, all it takes is one crazy team to come in and throw an insane offer on the table.

Right now, we are at about $50 million in salary with our eight man guys on the books (AD, Gordon, Jrue, Rivers, Ryno, GV, Lopez, and Smith). When you add cap holds and the fact that they will likely pick up options on Brian Roberts and Darius Miller, the Pelicans have about $6 million in cap room. In order to have a real chance at Iguodala, there is no way around it, Robin Lopez must either be released or traded to a team that has cap space and doesn’t send anything back. The latter would be preferred because it would actually save the Pelicans $500,000 and it might bet them a future asset.

If the Pelicans do that, then they can offer Iguodala a contract approaching 4 years and 47 million dollars. Would that be enough? If not, they can decline the options on Roberts and Miller and get closer to $49 million. And if they still aren’t there yet, they can ship Vasquez off to a team with cap space and go as high as 56 million dollars. If Iguodala gets offers higher than that, the Pelicans would either risk gutting the team of quality role players or they could look to move Eric Gordon and keep the role players, but that would seem more like a lateral move than one that would take them to the next level.

So, Lopez would have to be out the door to put forward a competative offer, with the plan likely being that the Pelicans us their room mid-leve exception to sign a 15-20 minutes per night center after they sign Iguodala. Think Samuel Dalembert, Cole Aldrich, Nazr Muhammed, Jason Collins, or Ryan Hollins. With AD likely to get more minutes this season, and Jason Smith returning from injury, combined with the fact that Ryan Anderson will be closing out games, the Pelicans don’t really need much from their 4th big.

So, a four year offer worth around $50 million is likely to be the best the Pelicans can do, and it should be enough to be in the conversation. When you look at what teams seem to value in free agency, it usually is guys that can score. Iggy is solid offensively, but he is not a go-to guy and teams might have a hard time putting up big money for a third banana. And the teams that might be willing to do it, like the Pistons or Kings, don’t have the roster or the coaching staff that the Pelicans do. Selling Iguodala on a five man lineup of him, Jrue Holiday, Eric Gordon, Ryan Anderson, and Anthony Davis won’t be hard to do. And Monty’s reputation around the league can’t hurt either.

All-in-all, it will be hard for any team to match the pitch that Dell is poised to make to Iguodala and his agent this week.

Should the Pelicans Aggressively Pursue?

In some ways, it seems to be a strange fit. The Pelicans core is all 25 and under, and Iguodala is 29. It could also be argued that the Pelicans need, more than anything, a perimeter shooter who can open up the lane for our attacking guards and Anthony Davis. But the potential to put a lockdown defender on the perimeter with Jrue Holiday and Eric Gordon is just too hard to pass up. That trio could challenge the Miami Heat as the premier perimeter defensive trio in the NBA, which is so important when you consider how important guards are in today’s NBA.

Iguodala’s presence in the locker room and the expectation level he can help create for this team can not be overlooked either. Last year, the players wanted to win. If you add Andre Iguodala, then this team will be expected to win, and that can do wonders for your culture. In theory, it is great to have a team full of 23 year olds who grow together, but an on floor leader is needed, and I am not sure the Pelicans have that right now. Monty is terrific with the players, but the same message sounds a lot different when it is coming from a guy you play with, and Iguodala can give the Pelicans a guy who bridges the gap between Monty and the young guys.

To give Iguodala a competitive offer, the New Orleans Pelicans would likely have to part with Robin Lopez, which would create a fairly significant hole at the center position short term. But with Anthony Davis poised to increase his workload, and with Ryan Anderson likely to play far more with AD this year, Robin Lopez should not be the reason you miss out on Iguodala. If you can get Iggy, then you do it and look to find a big man with the room level exception. The opportunity to finish games with Jrue Holiday, Eric Gordon, Andre Iguodala, Ryan Anderson, and Anthony Davis is just too intriguing.


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