Sports

Andre Iguodala is Somehow Still a Levitating Samurai

Golden State's Sixth Man isn't playing as often as he used to, but he never gets shortchanged when he's out there.

by Michael Pina
Jan 25 2019, 3:00pm

Photo by Erik S. Lesser/EPA-EFE

The below has been excerpted from this week's Outlet Pass, to get caught up on everything else you need to know in the NBA this week read the rest of the column here.

Bad news, everyone associated with the NBA except those employed by the Golden State Warriors: Andre Iguodala is still good! This might be an anecdotal straw-man argument, but people usually say his name with respectful restrain: Iguodala is *dramatically lowers voice* saving it for the playoffs. This is unnecessary.

Yes, his usage and minutes are at a career low, but that feels more like a smart organizational mandate than a signal of physical deterioration. Lets semi-ignore numbers for a moment, because on a team that now starts five All-Stars and has been to four straight NBA Finals, what’s more meaningful than regular-season production is how Iguodala looks.

It’s officially normal to think he's 25 instead of 35 (his birthday is in a few days). That springy, levitating samurai athleticism has Iguodala still doing chin-ups on the rim and cramming lobs in transition. Every night, he shoves Father Time into a locker. (A higher percentage of his shots are dunks right now than in all but three previous seasons—including when he was 21 and 22 years old—and he’s shooting a career-best 83.6 percent within three feet of the rim.)

Iguodala packs a punch when he’s on the floor. He makes the most of his playing time, unloading enough energy to pressure ball-handlers who weren’t alive when he was a teenager and denying ball reversals that force the offense to abort their first option. That stuff matters. He boxes out, recovers loose balls at a higher rate than any of his teammates, and still excels in his role as a critical cog in Golden State's OG Death Lineup, which is no longer getting steamrolled on defense.

Stats are relevant, and nobody is saying someone who averages 5.6 points per game should win Sixth Man of the Year, but whenever you see Iguodala ferociously murder a basketball in a situation where he can softly lay it up, it feels particularly significant.

A decent chunk of his offensive worth comes down to the ability to make open threes, but in spots where he could settle for the shot defenses hope he’ll take, Iguodala often decides to put his foot on the gas instead. Look at this drive and kick against Nikola Jokic’s soft closeout:

This guy is still very good, numbers and age be damned. And for anyone still worried about Golden State’s depth, interest, or general odds to win a third title in four years, please stop. If the Warriors are a Great White shark, those long stretches when Iguodala steps out of a time machine are the exact moment its jaw opens wide.