Wednesday, December 18, 2013

The Iguodala Effect


Andre Iguodala has not impressed anybody with his own statistical brilliance. He didn’t do so during his tenure with the 76ers and Nuggets and thus far has averaged only 12 points, six rebounds, and four assists per game as a member of the Golden State Warriors. This was one of the reasons that he wasn't very popular in Philadelphia - a city that wanted a remix of the previously highlight-reel worthy AI, Allen Iverson. He seems to have found the perfect place in Golden State because how he impacts this Warriors team as a “glue guy” is clear when you look at how his teammates play when he is on and off the court.

Over the past two years, David Lee and Klay Thompson have been subject to occasional criticism from Warriors fans and analysts for what can sometimes be streaky play. Although last year I personally viewed Lee as a vital cog to the Warriors success, his play has dropped off a bit this year. Thompson on the other hand has been a "wait-and-see" type player as he is finding his way in his first couple years in the league. With his shooting and defense, nobody doubts this guy can play a very high level in the NBA. His highs have shown that, but last year his lows made people question his consistency. This year, Klay's performance has improved throughout his entire game (from driving to the basket to his defense) and in each of the past two years, he is undoubtedly an important half of the #SplashBrothers.

Andre Iguodala fits in here with a LeBron James-esque role. Although Iguodala certainly is not as great of a player, like LeBron, he really does make his teammates better. Lee and Thompson have both played 14 games (out of 36 and 39, respectively) with Iguodala on the floor and their performance from all over the floor staggeringly improves with that guy who only averages four assists per game out there with them.

David Lee
Iguodala On
Iguodala Off
Iguodala Effect
Restricted Area
63.2%
56.2%
+ 7.0%
In the paint
47.7%
36.2%
+ 11.5%
Mid-range
31.0%
21.9%
+ 8.1%
Left corner 3
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Right corner 3
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Top of key 3
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Klay Thompson
Iguodala On
Iguodala Off
Iguodala Effect
Restricted Area
69.0%
60.7%
+ 8.3%
In the paint
53.8%
30.8%
+ 23.0%
Mid-range
46.9%
42.0%
+ 4.9%
Left corner 3
55.0%
38.9%
+ 16.1%
Right corner 3
44.4%
53.3%
- 8.9%
Top of key 3
49.1%
35.3%
+ 13.8%
Both Thompson and Lee took more than one shot per game from all areas except Thompson for the following shots: in the paint (Iguodala on), on the right corner three (Iguodala on), and for both corner threes when Iguodala was off the court. The area where Thompson took the fewest shots was also where the Iguodala effect was in the negative. Stats accurate as of December 18.

The same wild improvement cannot be seen in a player like Steph Curry but that does not come as a surprise considering Steph's style of play is much different than D-Lee and Klay. Curry is his own beast and his game is largely predicated on creating his own shot, something that he will do whether or not the former Nuggets star is on the floor. Klay is more of a spot-up shooter and Lee needs spacing on the floor to get shots inside the paint. Clearly, Iguodala gives both of them that - something that even Curry cannot do alone.

As a team, the numbers tell the same story that you would qualitatively argue if just watching the Warriors games. The Iguodala effect on the Warriors is not something that you can go to the basic stat sheet to analyze. With the “mini-LeBron” on the floor, the Warriors improve on every single type of shot on the floor (restricted area, in the paint, mid-range, and all types of threes).

A closer look at the aspect of the game that is most important to the Warriors success reveals just how valuable Dre is to the Warriors. The on-court vs. off-court difference with Iguodala in three-pointers is jaw-dropping: the Warriors shoot 15 percent higher on the left corner three (53 vs. 38), six percent higher on the right corner three (42 vs. 36), and eight percent higher on the above-the-break 3 (46 vs. 38).

This difference is accentuated when you consider the Warriors take three more threes a game with him on the court (17.7 vs. 14.6).

What about their overall team performance? This might sum up the Iguodala effect the best: the Warriors score 20 points per 100 possessions more than their opponent with him on the court compared to when he's not there.

And of course, he can also do things like this when called upon:


Is it hard to put readily digestible value on a guy who gives less-than-glamarous PRA per game numbers? Yes, but the presence that Andre Iguodala brings to the Warriors is something that will make the difference in his team competing for a championship or sitting at home during late May. At least as we can tell so far, GM Bob Myers picked up the perfect guy to fit with the Warriors this past off-season in Andre Iguodala.

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