It's time to take a look back on the 2008-2009 season, and assess how each player performed. More importantly, though, I want to pay close attention to how the pieces on this young team progressed. It's Andre Iguodala's turn today. Stats, trends, highlights and lowlights after the jump.
This is a really, really tough call. From an eye-popping standpoint, you'd probably have to go with the first Portland game, the first time he out-played Brandon Roy. 10/17 from the floor, 4/6 from three, 29 points, 4 boards, 6 dimes and only 1 turnover. But I think I'd rather go with a lower-scoring, higher impact game for Iggy. Let's go all the way back to November, when Iggy was playing the two. At Toronto (before Toronto became a joke), Iguodala attempted only 13 shots, but went to the line 8 times, hitting 7 of them for 18 points. He had 9 rebounds, 10 dimes and only 1 turnover.
I'm going with probably the worst loss of the season here, @ OKC on 3/08/09. Iguodala shot 3/11 from the floor for 9 points in 43 minutes of work. To make matters worse, he coughed the ball up 6 times, only dished out 3 dimes and shot a dismal 3/6 from the line. Even in his worst game, though, he managed to grab as many boards as our starting center and PF combined (8).
The expectation, or maybe the hope, was that Andre Iguodala would spend last Summer working on his jumper and he'd come in as an improved three-point shooter for the '08-09 season. It didn't happen. In fact, he took a step back from three (from a passable 33% down to 31%). Other than the decline in three-point percentage, however, Iguodala really improved across the board. Most-importantly, he reclaimed his status as an elite defender (and by elite, I mean he belonged on one of the All NBA Defense teams, maybe even the first team).
I won't regale you with advanced stats to quantify his defense, that's an argument for another day. I think we can all agree that he was a significantly better defender this past season than the season before.
On offense, his scoring was down, but his points-per-shot rose from 1.28 to 1.35 (LeBron was 1.43, Kobe was 1.29, Wade was 1.37, for perspective). His true shooting percentage rose, his eFG rose, his FG% rose. By all accounts he was a much more efficient scorer this season. His all-around game improved as well, he was a better rebounder, he dished more dimes. His steals were down a bit, but I don't see that as a negative, necessarily, when we're quantifying defense. He stuck to his man, instead of gambling for steals.
I chose the headline subtle improvement because I feel like there will always be people out there who criticize Iguodala for not being "the man." The number one option, on offense, etc. Whether or not he needs to be that guy, is yet another debate, for another day. The fact of the matter is, other teams treat him like he's already that player. He's the guy who gets the double. He's the guy they gameplan to stop. It speaks to his nature as a smart basketball player that he has never tried to force himself into that role. He knows his strenghts, this season, he focused on those strengths on offense (going to the hole, getting teammates open looks, etc.). In fact, if anything, Iguodala improved what was already a great strength in his game coming into this season, finishing on the inside. I don't know when he worked on it, but after a month or so of the season passed, he started finishing with his left. The results really showed as we watched the games, and translated into advanced stats as well.
So, did Andre Iguodala improve this season? I say yes, but I'm one of the biggest Iguodala supporters you'll find, so I'd like to hear what everyone else thinks as well in the comments.