DFDepressed FanDepressed Fan

All  

Sixers

, all the time

Putting in the work over the Summer. (Photo from Iguodala9.com)In part four of our Looking Ahead series will focus on the least-appreciated member of the Sixers, Andre Iguodala. From the coverage he's gotten in the press you'd think he's an average player. After the jump, the numbers will tell you a much different story. Click here for the complete Looking Ahead archive.
First, the stats. Again, using per game numbers, Andre averaged 39.5 minutes/game, so you can do the math if you're into per minute or per 36 stats. All stats are from basketball-reference.com.

2007-2008
Minutes/game: 39.5
Points/game: 19.9
Rebounds/game: 5.4
Assists/game: 4.8
Steals/game: 2.1
Blocks/game: 0.6
Turnovers/game: 2.6
FG %: 45.6
3pt %: 32.9
FT %: 72.1

A few things jump out at me from those numbers, especially when you compare them to his numbers from the season before. First, he shouldered a bigger portion of the load (15.6 fg/g vs. 13.0), and he improved his shooting percentage (45.6% vs. 44.7%). Second, he took almost twice as many threes, and hit for a higher percentage (32.9% vs. 31%). And finally, even though he was the focal point of the offense, he reduced his turnovers by 0.8 per game (2.6 vs. 3.4). All very, very good signs that Iguodala will continue to progress.

Now, some perspective for the season Iguodala just turned in. The first comp will be of any player who averaged 19 points, 5 boards, 4.5 assists and 2.0 steals while playing more than 75 games in the past 20 years.

  • Michael Jordan - 7 times
  • Clyde Drexler - 3 times
  • Kobe Byrant - 1 time
  • Chris Mullin - 1 time
  • LeBron James - 1 time
  • Scottie Pippen - 1 time
  • Jeff Hornacek - 1 time
  • Alvin Robertson - 1 time
  • Andre Iguodala - 1 time
Pretty impressive company. But let's take it a step further. How many players have averaged 18 points, 5 boards, 4.5 assists and 2 steals while playing in over 75 games two years in a row?

  • Michael Jordan - Did it for 7 consecutive seasons
  • Clyde Drexler - Did it for 3 consecuvite seasons
  • Fat Lever - Did it for 4 consecutive seasons
  • Scottie Pippen - Did it for 2 consecutive seasons (only played 72 games in the second year, though)
  • Andre Iguodala - Did it for 2 consecutive seasons, and counting.
Of the players listed above, only Michael Jordan accomplished this at the same age as Iguodala.

Personally, I think these stats give you a pretty good view of a player, but there are plenty of people who would rather use the newer stats, so let's use them for another comp. Let's see how many players have accumulated more win shares in their first four seasons in the league than Iguodala (he had 31.5). The answer is 29 players accumulated more win shares in their first four years in the league. Take a look at the list, he's in good company.

The biggest complaint/question about Iguodala has been his outside shooting. With the impending move to shooting guard, his three-point shooting has been called into question. With this in mind, I wanted to take a look at how some of the other players on this list shot the three, and how their percentages from downtown progressed after their fourth season in the league.

  • Michael Jordan - Shot 13.2% from three in his fourth season in the league. He improved to 37.6% in his 6th season, career high was 42.6% in his 11th.
  • Clyde Drexler - Shot 23.4% in his fourth season. Never improved further than 33.7%.
  • Michael Redd - Shot 35% in his fourth season. Improved to 39% in his 6th, a career high (as a starter)
  • Kobe Bryant - Shot 32% in his fourth season. Improved to 38% in his 7th, shooting 34% for his career.
  • LeBron James - Shot 31.9% in his fourth season. 31.5% in his fifth.
Sticking with the 3-point shot, let's take a look at all the guys who shot comparably from three in their 4th season in the league. The following is a list of all the players who shot between 30% and 34% from three with over 200 attempts in their 4th year in the league. In parens after the name is the 3pt% in 4th season/career 3pt % of the player.

  • Stephen Jackson (34.0% / 34.1%)
  • Austin Croshere (33.8% / 34.0%)
  • Jason Richardson (33.8% / 36.3%)
  • Ron Artest (33.6% / 32.9%)
  • Todd Day (33.1% / 34.5%)
  • Kenny Anderson (33% / 34.6%)
  • Tim Hardaway (33% / 35.5%)
  • Steve Smith (32.9% / 35.8%)
  • Andre Iguodala (32.9% / 33.1%)
  • Jamal Mashburn (32.5% / 34.5%)
  • Antawn Jamison (32.4% / 34.7%)
  • Latrell Sprewell (32.3% / 33.7%)
  • Steve Blake (32.2% / 38.1%)
  • John Starks (32.1% / 34%)
  • Anfernee Hardaway (31.8% / 31.6%)
  • Jamal Crawford (31.7% / 34.5%)
  • Jason Kidd (31.3% / 33.7%)
  • Donyell Marshall (31.3% / 34.8%)
  • James Posey (30.6% / 35.1%)
This number probably doesn't mean that much statistically, but I'll throw it out there anyway. The average improvement for the players on this list is 1.87%. If you figure an average improvent for Iguodala, that would be 34.7% career number from three. Obviously not something you can bank on, but I think it is safe to assume that he'll raise his three-point percentage. The range among these players is -0.2% to 5.9%. More importantly, how many guys from this list would you consider above average to good shooters? I'd say Stephen Jackson, Jason Richardson, James Posey, Tim Hardaway, Steve Smith, Steve Blake, Donyell Marshall. My point being, every one of those shooters was Iguodala's statistical equal at the same point in their careers and they developed into something more. Given Andre's work ethic, I think he's in store for the same type of improvement.

Looking Ahead

It goes without saying that Iguodala's role will change this season. Gone are the days where he's asked, or expected, to carry this team offensively. That doesn't necessarily mean his FGA will be down, or his points, but it does mean that he won't be relied upon to carry the team on a nightly basis. More importantly, it means he won't be the focus of the opposing team's defense any longer, he won't have to work as hard for his shots. The changes don't end there. Not only will the teams not be focused on Andre, they'll be intent on stopping Elton Brand in the post. This means that at times Iguodala will go from having two guys on him to zero. I'm expecting Iguodala's efficiency ratings to go through the roof. He'll be back to playing a role that's more comfortable to him.

Which leads directly into why I think the move to shooting guard will be a huge bonus for Andre, and for the team. As the third option on the team for his first 2.5 seasons, Iguodala was able to facilitate offense from the wing, and pick and choose his spots. OK, he cleaned up the scraps for his shots. This year, he'll get back to handling the ball on the outside and feeding the post. He'll be able to move without the ball on the outside, and slash through the lane for easy opportunities under the hoop. He'll get wide open jumpers, and he'll have a big who can handle the tough pass down low and convert it into points. The fact that he drastically cut down his turnovers last year with Sammy and Reggie Evans down low "catching" his passes is nothing short of a miracle. Iguodala is a gifted passer and he'll be able to showcase those skills at the shooting guard.

One last thing, how many two guards in the league will be able to handle Iguodala's size? Two or three? If all else fails, Andre can and will take guys like Ray Allen down on the blocks and abuse them.

Taking all of this into account, here is my early prediction for Andre's stat line for 2008-09:

Minutes/game: 39
Points/game: 22.0
Rebounds/game: 5.0
Assists/game: 5.8
Steals/game: 2.5
Blocks/game: 0.7
Turnovers/game: 2.8
FG %: 48.5
3pt %: 34.5
FT %: 78

Thoughts in the comments, as usual. 
by Brian on Sep 18 2008
Tags: Andre Iguodala | Basketball | Looking Ahead | Offseason | Sixers |