When you hear something repeated time after time after time, a little part of you starts to believe it just might be true. I've resisted the temptation when announcers like Jon Barry try to pound the following point home, "Andre Iguodala is not a number one," and I think it's time to take a look at whether or not this particular piece of propaganda is true.
Before we can refute the theory, we need to understand it. When people talk about Iguodala's shortcomings, I can only assume they mean he can't be a number one because he doesn't score enough. I mean, there's absolutely no way you can argue with his rebounding or playmaking stats. I don't think you can really make an argument that Iguodala isn't clutch either. He's hit big shots down the stretch all season long for this team. No, it must be pure scoring numbers that convince so many he isn't a number one.
Granted, 18.5 points/game isn't an earth-shattering number. Currently, he's the 28th-best scorer in the league. Personally, I don't think any argument should begin and end with points per game, but if that's the criteria you want to use to define a number one, let's run with it. Only, instead of looking at season averages in a vacuum, let's provide some context.
In the chart below, I've taken a look at the Sixers past 30 games (17 wins, 13 losses). Specifically, I've tried to single out the guy Andre Iguodala has guarded, for the most part, in each of those 30 games. Usually, it's the opposing SF, but if the team's star is a SG, I took that guy (Dwyane Wade and Kobe are two examples). Now, what we're looking at is how that player shot the ball, how many points he scored, how many points Iguodala scored, and the season averages for that player. Take a look and we'll discuss afterward.
* A pink background means the player outscored Iguodala (8 out of 30 games)
** Bolded and italicized means the player scored more points than his season average (7 out of 30 games)
If you take a look at the list of names above, you're going to see a whole slew of guys who people will wholeheartedly tell you are legit number ones. Dwyane Wade, Kobe Bryant, Joe Johnson, Kevin Martin, Danny Granger and Brandon Roy to name a few. In head-to-head matchups, Andre Iguodala and the rest of the Sixers held every single one of them under their season averages in scoring. Against each one of them, Iguodala scored better than his season average.
In this 30-game sample, Iguodala's man averaged 3.8 points/game below his season average. Iguodala outscored his opponent by an average of 4.6 points. This doesn't even begin to take into account the rest of his game. Take today for example, he scored 31, grabbed 9 boards and completely handcuffed Tayshaun Prince for the entire game. Or how about his game against Atlanta on Tuesday? 19 points, 8 assists and held Joe Johnson to 9 shots attempted and only 11 points.
Honestly, I find this whole "number one" argument to be tedious and simplistic beyond belief. The next time an announcer like Jon Barry chuckles when he sees that Iguodala's season high is "only" 30 points, break out this stat. In 75 games, an opposing small forward or shooting guard has scored 30 points against Andre Iguodala and the 76ers exactly twice. Two times. On November 1st, Joe Johnson had 35 points. On December 3rd, Kobe Bryant had 32. That's it. Show me another team, and another player who can boast that stat.
So, is Andre Iguodala a number one? By my definition, absolutely. Call me crazy, but I'll take a guy who consistently locks down the opposing team's best wing, scores 18+ efficiently, grabs almost a half dozen rebounds per game and sets up his teammate with 5.3 assists over just about anyone. In fact, I'll go as far as to say Andre Iguodala isn't high enough on this list, and I'll also say that $11,300,000 is a downright bargain price to pay for the services of Andre Iguodala. In terms of winning and losing games, there aren't a whole lot of guys I'd take over him. In my mind, he's a top-ten player in this league right now.