Denver Nuggets Player Review: Andre Iguodala

Versatile swingman brought a defensive edge in first season at Pepsi Center
by Aaron Lopez

When the Nuggets acquired Andre Iguodala in a four-team trade on Aug. 10, 2012, they did so in hopes of adding a defensive edge missing from previous years.

Iguodala didn’t disappoint.

Guarding point guards, shooting guards, small forwards and power forwards, the versatile swingman gave the Nuggets everything they hoped for as he anchored a defense that finished in second in steals and third in blocked shots in 2012-13.

Denver’s effectiveness against Houston Rockets guard James Harden illustrated Iguodala’s value.

Harden averaged 25.9 points during the regular season, which ranked fifth in the NBA. In four games against the Nuggets, he averaged 18.3 points on .382 shooting, including 3-for-16 from 3-point range.

The list goes on. Stephen Curry, Tony Parker, Chris Paul and Mike Conley – the top playmakers for Western Conference playoff teams – all scored below their season averages against Denver.

Despite the evidence, Iguodala was not among the 11 players selected to the NBA All-Defensive first and second teams.

“He has our respect and that’s what matters,” Nuggets coach George Karl said.

Though elite defensively, Iguodala was hardly one-dimensional.

Often operating as a point-forward, he averaged 13 points, 5.4 assists and 5.3 rebounds. Iguodala was one of only four NBA players to average at least 10 points, five rebounds and five assists while playing more than 40 games in 2012-13. LeBron James, Russell Westbrook and Kobe Bryant were the others.

Iguodala credited his comfort level in Denver to his success, particularly his chemistry with Nuggets point guard Ty Lawson.

“I never had such a great camaraderie with my teammates that quickly,” Iguodala said. “We really came together and gelled and it showed throughout the year.”

The Nuggets would like to the process to continue. Iguodala can opt out of the final year of his contract and test free agency this summer, but Denver executive vice president of basketball operations Masai Ujiri said last week that he is optimistic about re-signing the former All-Star and Olympian.

Feb. 27, 2013 at Portland Trail Blazers
With the Nuggets seeking their first win in Portland since 2009, Iguodala put together a complete game. He had 29 points, eight assists, seven rebounds and five steals in Denver’s 111-109 victory. No other player in the NBA reached those statistical marks in a single game during the 2012-13 season.

Iguodala’s consistency is as impressive as his athleticism and versatility. He has averaged at least 12.4 points, 5.3 rebounds and 5.3 assists in each of his past five seasons. The string would be seven if not for a 4.8-assist season in 2007-08.

2013-14 OUTLOOK
At 29 years old, Iguodala is the midst of his prime. The biggest question is which team will have his services for the next few years. During his introductory press conference last summer, he said he didn't view his move to Denver as a “quick stop.” The Nuggets have made a priority of re-signing him, which would be a big step toward remaining in the top half of the Western Conference standings.