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Golden State Warriors: Andre Iguodala remains their X-factor

Andre Iguodala is still the x-factor for the Golden State Warriors, despite being in his 15th season on a team of four perennial All-Stars.

Not often does a role player get quickly mentioned or win an NBA Finals MVP, but not all secondary players are Andre Iguodala and impact the Golden State Warriors as he does. When thinking of the great teams throughout NBA history, the superstars come to mind and take most of the credit at first glance.

There’s Michael Jordan and Scottie Pippen of the Chicago Bulls in the 1990s. Kobe Bryant and Shaquille O’Neal of the early 2000s Los Angeles Lakers. Magic Johnson, Kareem Abdul-Jabbar and James Worthy of the Showtime Lakers. Even the San Antonio Spurs with Tim Duncan, David Robinson and Tony Parker were the Finals MVPs and stars receiving most of the publicity for their team’s successes.

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The previously mentioned teams all had contributions from their non-stars on their title quests. Steve Kerr’s game-winner in Game 6 of the 1997 Finals. Robert Horry’s bonkers buzzer-beater to keep the Sacramento Kings from snatching a 3-1 lead in 2002. Yet none of those players were at the level of Iggy, outside of Manu Ginobili of the Spurs dynasty or the late great John Havlicek of the early 1960s and 1970s Boston Celtics.

Before becoming a three-time — and likely four — champion, Iguodala was a member of the 2012 Olympic men’s basketball team that claimed gold in London. He went to the playoffs six times before his time in Oakland, making it out of the first round one time. That was when Derrick Rose tore his ACL in Game 1 of the 2012 playoffs, as Iggy led his eighth-seeded Philadelphia 76ers to an upset of Chicago.

Over the last three years, the Warriors are 16-0 in playoff games in which Andre Iguodala scores in double figures. https://t.co/imrdaLd5JY

— Tommy Beer (@TommyBeer) May 3, 2019

On those teams, Iguodala was the first or second option and topped out at 19.9 points per game in 2007-08. Scoring has never been his main talent although he’s pretty solid at it. Iggy has been one of the game’s best defenders and glue guys since he came into the league, using his 6’6” frame and 6’11” wingspan combined with his athleticism to harass opponents for years.

Although he’s lost a step due to back issues and playing 37.4 minutes per game before coming to Golden State, his importance to a team featuring four All-Stars remains vital to a Warriors team pursuing their fourth title in five years and third in a row.

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When situations for the Warriors turned bleak during their historic run, head coach Steve Kerr would roll out his death lineup with Draymond Green at the 5 and Iguodala guarding the opponents best player. The luxury of having a player of Iggy’s stature coming off the bench allowed Kerr to pick his spots and conserve as much energy for his 6th man during the season as possible.

The partnership of Iggy and Draymond gave the Warriors the best frontcourt pairing to adequately space the floor, keep the ball moving and create havoc on the defensive end.

Despite being the two most limited offensive players in the Hamptons Five lineup three of the best outside shooters ever, Draymond’s four on three alley-oop to Iggy has become a wash, rinse, repeat end result for the Warriors.

the lob

the jam

📺 @NBAonTNTpic.twitter.com/fNbsdLBNUg

— Golden State Warriors (@warriors) May 1, 2019

Iguodala’s stats are impressive in this postseason run through eight games. He’s averaging 11.3 points, 4.0 rebounds, 4.3 assists, 1.0 steals and 1.1 blocks per game, shooting 37.9 percent on 3-pointers. In his two starts against the Houston Rockets in the second round, his points jump up to 15.0 per game while shooting 75.0 percent from the field and 42.9 percent on 3.5 3-point attempts.

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His on-floor 10.9 +/- is second best behind Draymond. The duo has the best net rating among the starting five when Iggy is on the floor at 19.1. He’s also a part of the two best +/- two-man lineups when paired with KD (12.8) and Dray (12.5), respectively.

For a guy at 35 years old, his on-ball defense remains up there with the best in the NBA. Reigning MVP James Harden has struggled mightily when matched up against Iguodala. In 36 possessions per game this postseason when guarded by Iggy, Harden is shooting 27.8 percent from the field and 12.5 percent from deep.

That’s elite defensive production against arguably the best offensive player in the NBA. Yes, the Warriors are as well equipped to stop Harden with Kevin Durant, Draymond and Klay Thompson. Kerr throwing Iggy on the Beard more than any other Warrior shows how much he’s trusted and capable of slowing down Harden.

Speaking of Kerr, the eight-time champion deployed his Hamptons Five as the starting lineup at the start of the Rockets series to get Iggy on the floor and Dray to the 5 as much as possible. He recognizes their depth took a hit with DeMarcus Cousins out for the season, but also how important Iguodala and his dynamic with Green is to this team.

In a dynasty full of stars and Hall of Famers, Andre Iguodala’s versatility has been there the whole time. He’s not the best shooter, scorer, passer or rebounder. In terms of doing everything you want from a role player, there is no better person to have than Iggy. It’s crazy that on this team in his 15th NBA season, he remains one of, if not the, biggest X-factor in the NBA Playoffs.

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