Saturday, July 6, 2013

Andre Iguodala To The Warriors

If you can't beat 'em...
Today, two great and good things happened for the Golden State Warriors.

First, they "lost" in the Dwight Howard sweepstakes.

Second, they acquired Andre Iguodala.

Let's get into each in turn.

Howard, on paper, looks like a great fit for the Warriors. He was the most dynamic shot blocker available, not yet old, someone who has been to the Finals and a reasonable low post option, especially on a team with the most feared three-point shooters in the NBA. But in reality, he's a black hole with the ball who doesn't convert enough of his looks any more, turns it over too much, is foul-prone, incapable of staying on the floor in close and late situations, and just one year removed from career-threatening back surgery. From a real world perspective, he is, of course, better than Andrew Bogut... but the difference is not dramatic, and unlike Bogut, you can't put Howard on the bench without making a scene. As something of a Dubs fan, in that I watched the NBA playoffs, I think they dodged a bullet here. Especially if Bogut somehow stays healthy, or just plays as much as Howard.

Now, let's move on to Iguodala. He's spent his entire NBA career miscast as the best player when he's a supporting piece. In Dubland, that's exactly what he will be. He needs transition opportunities to score and have maximum effectiveness. The Dubs do that. If he's shooting a lot of threes, you are going to lose. Here, he's only ever going to shoot a wide-open one, and if he doesn't take any, that won't be a problem. He turns the Warriors three-guard rotation from one-way only to two-way tolerable, and gives the team a first-level wing stopper in those inevitable battles with the best of the Western Conference. He moves the ball on offense, helps to inspire better play on defense, and can even give you low-leverage minutes as a point forward type.

More importantly, there's what he is not. Jarrett Jack got a ton of love for his good moments in last year's playoffs, but the whole package was very trick or treat, and the number of zero-pass possessions when he was on the floor, and possibly the worst shooting option, were just intolerable. Jack tries hard on defense, but he's undersized and not very good at it; Iggy might be the NBA's best on the wing, and if he's not, he's not too many years removed from it. Jack needed the ball in his hands to do good things; Iguodala does his best work with very few touches. You give Warriors coach Marc Jackson more options this way, and at a fiscal (4 year, $48 million) and compensation (2014 first round pick, which while in a deep draft, shouldn't be in the first 20 given how stacked this team looks for 2013, and 2017, who knows) cost that's fair.

Oh, and there's also this. By inking him, the Dubs help to dramatically weaken the Nuggets. And by the way, this is as clear of a rejection of the franchise as you are ever going to see. Iguodala leaves $12 million on the table with the move in gross compensation, plus the significant jump in state tax rates from going to California from Colorado. If you are looking for a clearer indication that Denver has dropped in prestige from the mostly missed heyday of that big February to March winning streak, this is it. They might be OK after all -- Denver's deep with Wilson Chandler and Danilo Gallinari set to take on more minutes next year, and any team with Ty Lawson and Kenneth Faried has room to grow -- but without George Karl and Masai Ujiri, bringing in new talent is not a given. They weren't a top tier team in the West before losing Iggy, and they certainly aren't better now.

As for the Dubs... I like them to win the Pacific next year, and maybe be a 55+ win team. They'll need health from Bogut and David Lee, a lack of sophomore slump from Harrison Barnes, 75+ games of Not Hurt from Curry, continued growth from Thompson, and Iguodala has to fit in to his third team in three years. But all of that's possible, and given the ages of the players involved, maybe even probable. Watch this team, folks. They were already special, and they just got better.

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