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This debate has taken place in the comments for a while, so I thought a visual would add some quality fuel to the fire. After the jump we'll take a look at the shooting percentages from different spots on the floor for both players. A couple things should stand out.
Let's start with Thad. This first graphic shows his shooting stats for the regular season, broken down by spots on the floor...

ThadReg0428.jpgObviously, the first thing that jumps out at you is the overwhelming percentage of his shots which came in the paint. This isn't really much of a shocker, Thad scored most of his points on breaks, put-backs and work in the low post during the season. On jumpers inside the three-point line, Thad shot a respectable 37.5%. His numbers from deep were less thrilling, 31.5%. Again, until late in the season, Thad rarely strayed from the paint area. His playoff numbers tell a different story altogether...

ThadPlayoffs0428.jpgFor me, this is the most telling graphic. Usually when the playoffs start, and the pressure rises, players have one of two reactions. Either they thrive on the pressure and raise their level of concentration and become better, or they shrink from the challenge. Thad is a riser. Not only is he shooting an amazing percentage from the floor, 57.6%, but he's moved his game away from the basket and kept his FG% consistent. He's attempted 14 of his shots from outside the paint, hitting 8 of them (57.1%).

Now, one thing to keep in mind when we talk about Thad is that most, if not all, of his jumpers come when he's wide open. This isn't a negative, he moves without the ball, plays off his teammates, and generally either drives to the hole if there's a defender near him or passes off to someone else. He does not force shots.

Let's take a look at Iguodala's numbers now, first for the season...

IguodalaReg0428.jpgWhile Andre's shooting percentage is also buoyed by points in the paint, he actually did a representative job on his 2-point jumpers as well. He was 238/625 on those shots, 38%. His three-point shooting brought down his total number a great deal, but the fact that he took such a large percentage of his shots outside of the paint and converted a decent percentage of them does bode well. Especially since a decent percentage of these shots were taken under duress. One troubling thing to take away from this graphic is Iguodala's extremely low percentage on the short jumpers. If I had to guess, I'd say this is mostly due to playing under control, or not, as the case may be. Those shots should be gimmes, short little pull ups you take when a defender stops a drive to the hoop. My guess is that most of these were bad attempts taken when the path to the hoop was cut off and Andre threw up a prayer hoping to draw contact and head to the line. If you take the short jumpers out, his shooting percentage on intermediate jumpers is actually pretty good, 167/403, or 41.4%.

And now, the one no one really wants to break down. Iguodala in this playoff series...

IguodalaPlay0428.jpgAlright, we all know he's being blanketed by Tayshaun Prince, and doubled whenever he puts the ball on the floor. He's forcing way too many jumpers, and he's rarely gotten an open look from the perimeter. Under those circumstances, you'd expect a lot of blue on this chart from the outside, the thing that I can't get over is the low percentage at the cup. Even if he can't shake loose for open jumpers, he absolutely has to make better decisions once he gets in the paint. Converting only 6/16 at the rim is just atrocious.

Obviously, a limited view of each player's offensive game, but I think it's telling on a couple of levels. First, the fact that Thad's percentages are higher doesn't necessarily mean he's a better shooter. In fact, his high percentages are probably a direct result of the doubles Iguodala is seeing and the open looks the doubles create. I will say this, however. If you put the shoe on the other foot and run the offense through Thad, I think you'd see much fewer forced shots. In fact, I think that's probably the future of this team. If we saw the offense flowing through Thad with Iguodala getting open looks on jumpers inside the three point line we'd see Iguodala's percentages soar.

Being a team's number one option isn't always about being able to score when you have the ball, sometimes it also has to be about being able to recognize when you don't have the match-up. When the opportunity to score just doesn't exist or the percentages are against you and you either find a way to increase the percentages in your favor or you find an open teammate who has a higher percentage shot. It's not really that surprising that Andre Iguodala has been able to do that in two games so far this series, games 1 and 3, both wins. And unable to do it in the other two, both losses.

Do I think Thad's going to be better in that role as early as next year? Yes. I think he's a more natural shooter than Iguodala, I think his moves toward the basket are done with finishing in mind, rather than drawing contact, although Iguodala made great strides in this area over the past couple of months, playoffs excluded obviously. I think the number one thing that I take away from this exercise is that Iguodala as the team's number two option, at the shooting guard, is not a bad idea. His percentages as the number one, with the added defensive attention and offensive responsibility that brings with it, were still representative. Move him off the ball, out of the spotlight, with less defensive pressure and he's going to be more efficient. Add a power forward to the mix who can command a double sometimes and you've got a formula for success.

No surprise here, Iguodala should be a big part of the future in Philadelphia, as far as I'm concerned. Now, do I still think he's worth $70M? That's open for debate. Fortunately, I don't think it's a question the Sixers will have to answer this Summer. I highly doubt anyone is going to offer him a crazy contract, so the Sixers will be able to decide what they think he's worth, if he signs for it, that's the end of the story, he's a Sixer for 5 more years, at least. If he doesn't like the number they come up with, well, he can always sign the qualifying offer and come back next year and try to prove he's worth that max deal. This might be the best-case scenario at this point, especially if Mo Cheeks and Ed Stefanski have seen the same things in Thad that we have. It would give the Sixers essentially a free season to evaluate Iguodala at the shooting guard position and the number 2 options on offense before deciding if he's the long-term solution.
by Brian on Apr 28 2008
Tags: Andre Iguodala | Basketball | Pistons | Playoffs | Sixers | Thaddeus Young |