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Iguoadala As Playmaker

(Photo by Jesse D. Garrabrant/NBAE via Getty Images)
We've spent so much time talking about the things Andre Iguodala cannot do this season, we've overlooked exactly what he brings to this team. The argument has played out in the comments time and time again, so in this post we'll take a look at Iguodala's play-making statistics, and hold them up to his peers.

I looked through the league leaders and found the top 10 shooting guards/small forwards based on assists per game. First, we'll take a look at the assist breakdown for each, thoughts below the chart:

sfsgassts010409.jpg
All stats were grabbed from 82games.com. High % Assists is close assists plus dunk assists. (Close means any shot in the lane, besides a dunk). For me, the key stat here is the pass rating. Here's a brief description of the stat from 82games (the best I could find).

...the gist is to reward passes leading to successful shots from close range at a higher rate than assisted outside shots, while including the rate of passing turnovers.

There's quite a bit of logic to this simple formula. Generally speaking, assists on jumpers and threes are high-percentage passes. Usually the risk of a turnover is dramatically lower than a pass into the lane for a layup or a dunk. The difficulty of a pass would go from 3s, to jumpers, to close to dunks, for the most part. Now, with that in mind, take a look at the chart above. Over half of Iguodala's assists have come on what I've dubbed "High % Assists." Only Stephen Jackson has a higher percentage. This explains why Iguodala has the third-highest passer rating, and only the 7th-highest assist/turnover ratio.

Now, this has quite a bit to do with the type of team Iguodala has around him. If the Sixers had legitimate three-point threats, I'm sure his assists on 3's would go up accordingly, but what this also shows us is that calling Iguodala "turnover prone," may not be a fair assessment, when he's judged against his peers. By the raw numbers, he has the 6th most turnovers on bad passes out of the 10 players listed, but he attempts the tough interior passes at a much higher rate than just about everyone on the list. There's a risk/reward aspect that's often overlooked when you look only at pure assists/turnover numbers. Iguodala makes more risky passes than his peers, and the reward is a much higher rate of "easy" shots for his teammates. Not to mention the Dalembert factor. How many of Iguodala's "bad passes" were actually good passes that Sam coughed up? No way to tell, but I guess you could penalize Iggy for having the bad judgment to throw a pass to Sam in the first place.

The second part of the equation is ballhandling. Same group of players, new stats to look at in this chart:

sgsfturnovers010409.jpgFrom an Iguodala fan's perspective, this one is disappointing, but not terribly so. As compared to these 10 players, Iguodala's hands rating ranks 9th (I can't find the methodology for Hands Rating, so I'm assuming it's some derivative of possessions/turnover). Only Paul Pierce has a worse rating. The bulk of iguodala's turnovers come on ball handling errors and offensive fouls.

The offensive fouls you can live with. We all know Iggy loves to go to the hoop. The line between aggression and out-of-control can blur easily. The two players on the list with more offensive fouls are LeBron James and Paul Pierce, so that's good company. The ball handling turnovers are problematic. Only Dwyane Wade has more and he dominates the ball for the Heat.

If you want to criticize Iguodala, criticize the ball handling turnovers. He commits too many, and that's on him. Too many, though, may be a relative term. We're talking about the 10 best  shooting guards and small forwards in the game in these samples, by assists or just about any other metric as well. The fact that his numbers hold up with these guys should tell us all we need to know. As a playmaker, Iguodala is a special player. 

by Brian on Jan 5 2009
Tags: Andre Iguodala | Basketball | Sixers | Stats |