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The Iguodala Effect

As the Sixers limp toward the end of the regular season, there has been quite a bit of discussion as to whether their play of late is more reflective of their true identity (slightly below-average team) than their great 20-9 stretch from January to early March.  However you want to answer that question (and I believe most of us have pre-conceived biases in answering it), there is one factor that must be considered:  Andre Iguodala's play has dropped off lately.  Truth in advertising: I am in the camp that believes Iguodala is the Sixers' best player and that their fortunes depend on his playing and playing well.  But do the numbers support this?

We can try to answer that question partially, because we now have 67 games where Iguodala has played and 14 where he has not.  The 14 games isn't a huge sample size, but it's enough to spot trends.  By going through the game logs for those 14 games, I was able to derive Sixer stats with and without Iguodala in the lineup.  Offensive team stats are in green; defensive team stats are in yellow.  League average values are in the 3rd column (and listed with defensive stats, but they apply to both offensive and defensive stats).

w/AI9 w/o AI9 LG Avg
Games 67 14
2P FG% 48.5 48.6
OPP 2P FG% 47.8 49.1 48.7
3P FG% 35.7 34.5
OPP 3P FG% 33.7 35.7 35.8
FG% 46.2 45.9
OPP FG% 44.9 46.2 45.9
FGA/G 84.3 80.0
OPP FGA/G 81.4 79.3 81.0
FT% 76.7 78.2
OPP FT% 76.9 78.8 76.3
FTA/G 22.7 24.4
OPP FTA 23.8 26.0 24.3
EFG% 49.4 49.2
OPP EFG% 48.3 50.0 49.8
TS% 53.4 53.9
OPP TS% 52.8 53.9 54.1
ORB% 24.8 23.8 26.4
DRB% 74.5 73.8 73.6
TOV/G 13.24 12.85
OPP TOV/G 14.66 12.50 14.23
A:TO 1.76 1.63
OPP A:TO 1.43 1.88 1.51
ST/G 7.84 6.92
OPP ST/G 7.15 7.07 7.31
BL/G 4.73 2.46
OPP BL/G 4.48 5.07 4.85
PPG 100.7 97.8
OPP PPG 96.9 99.9 99.3
PER 15.6 13.6
OPP PER 14.4 15.7 (15.0)
W 36 5
L 31 9

  • When Iguodala is in the lineup, the team is better offensively, with a higher 2-point FG%, 3-point FG%, EFG%, assist/turnover ratio, and PPG.  The differences are mostly marginal but accumulate to nearly 3 PPG difference.
  • When Iguodala is in the lineup, the team is much better defensively.  With Iguodala, the Sixers are above average in opponent 2-point FG%, opponent 3-point FG%, opponent effective FG%, opponent free throw attempts per game, opponent turnovers per game, opponent assist/turnover ratio, opponent PER, and opponent PPG.  Without Iguodala, the Sixers are below average in every one of the above categories.
But what about the wing players that Iguodala guards specifically?  I compiled the stats for the 14 starting small forwards in the games that Iguodala missed, making two exceptions:  Maggette played the majority of minutes coming off the bench in the Bucks game and Kobe would have been the player Iguodala guarded instead of Artest in the Lakers game.  I then compared these stats to Iguodala's season-to-date opponent stats listed on 82games.com, which was updated on 4/6.  This comparison is only an approximation, because Iguodala doesn't always guard the opposing starting small forward minute-for-minute, and I'm also not entirely sure how 82games.com comes up with their stats.  But the numbers are revealing nonetheless:

w/AI9 w/o AI9
PTS/48 15.4 27.1
EFG 46.5 56.0
FGA/48 13.3 18.3
FTA/48 3.6 8.1
REB/48 6.2 7.7
AST/48 2.8 3.5
TOV/48 2.9 2.4
PER 10.3 20.1

Now, there were a couple stars among the 14 wing players in the "without" column (Durant, Kobe) but also several "decent" wings (Dorell Wright, Deng, Prince) and several marginal players (Moon, Weems, etc.).  Without question, when Iguodala plays he guards the toughest assignment on the other team.  But when Iguodala doesn't play, his assignment goes from well-below-average (PER of 10) to superstar (PER above 20).  There isn't a single category where "without" is better than "with" in the above table.

My conclusion: for the Sixers to have any chance in their upcoming playoff series, Iguodala needs to be playing and playing at his best.  If he is playing at his best, they have a better chance than most people give them.  If he isn't playing at his best, they have no shot at all.  The tougher question is what the Sixers should do if he is able to play less than his best (as has been the case the past several games).  Your thoughts in the comments.

by Statman on Apr 13 2011
Tags: Andre Iguodala | Basketball | Sixers | Statman |