The Golden State Warriors are just 2-3 since Andre Iguodala strained his left hamstring against the Los Angeles Lakers on Nov. 22, but coach Mark Jackson told the Costra Costa Times on Sunday that his return is getting “closer.”
That return can’t come soon enough for the Warriors, who have come to rely on the 10th-year veteran who arrived in Golden State over the summer with the reputation for being a defensive menace.
But Iguodala has also become deeply entwined in the Warriors’ offensive flow.
In the 13 games before Iguodala got hurt, the Warriors were ninth in the NBA with an offensive rating of 103.8 (points per 100 possessions). In five games without him, the Warriors are at 103.2, 14th in the NBA.
But it’s on the other end of the floor, as expected, where Iguodala’s absence is most acutely felt.
The Warriors—yes, the Warriors—were fourth in the association in defensive rating before Iguodala’s injury with a sterling 96.5 defensive rating, just behind such well-known defensive squads as Indiana, San Antonio and Chicago.
Since Iguodala’s been out of the lineup, however, the Warriors have been the defensive equivalent of a tire fire—a defensive rating of 106.8, more than 10 points per 100 possessions than with Iguodala. The Warriors are 20th in the NBA over the last five games.
Amazingly, Iguodala has only been named to one All-Defensive team, a second-team nod in 2010-11 when he was with Philadelphia.
But Iguodala was good enough to be chosen for the 2012 U.S. Olympic team that won gold in London and Team USA coach Mike Krzyzewski doesn’t award those roster spots to guys who don’t contribute.
Iguodala’s role on offense was unexpected. Not only was he shooting the ball at a career-high clip before he was hurt, but his role in ball-handling and facilitating created all sorts of problems for opponents.
His assist percentage of 25.4 is third in the NBA among forwards, trailing only LeBron James of the Miami Heat and (yes, I did a double-take, too) Josh McRoberts of the Charlotte Bobcats.
Iguodala was also shooting 54.5 percent from the floor—up from his career mark of 46.1—and canning 47.9 percent of his 3-point attempts (he is a career 33.3 percent marksman from distance).
Throw in the clutch moments such as his buzzer-beater to knock off the Oklahoma City Thunder on Nov. 14 and you’ve got a guy who is difficult—if not impossible—to replace.
Harrison Barnes has done well in the starting lineup since Iguodala’s injury, averaging 14.6 points a game, but the bench has been much less productive without Barnes and Barnes isn’t doing the other things. His assist percentage is just 7.8 and Barnes has a defensive rating of 112, a far cry from the 102 of Iguodala.
Iguodala was proving to be worth every dime of that four-year, $48 million deal before he was hurt. If the Warriors hope to move into the upper echelon of the incredibly deep Western Conference, they’re going to need him back sooner rather than later.