Iguodala Setting Tone For Team USA
If Kevin Durant is Team USA’s dagger and Tyson Chandler is its hammer, forward Andre Iguodala is the Swiss Army Knife.
With the eight other perimeter players on the 2012 American roster having posted an average of 23.7 points a night during the 2011-12 NBA season, Iguodala has a clearly defined role – defend, distribute, and take whatever the defense gives him.
“My job is to be a basketball player,” the All-Star forward told Steve Carp of the Las Vegas Review-Journal. “I have to be ready to contribute offensively as well as defensively; make sure I run the floor, be in position to score when they need me to, knock down open shots and hold my man on defense.”
Iguodala, who models his game after Hall of Fame swingman Scottie Pippen, has benefitted greatly from having a deadly scorer (or eight) by his side in international play for the United States. Much like his idol, who played alongside Michael Jordan for 10 seasons, the Sixer All-Star is at his best when he can play a complimentary role on offense and focus his attention on the other end of the floor.
But the advantages are not one-sided; the All-World players that surround Iguodala couldn’t be happier with this symbiotic relationship.
“He’s great for our team, he can do everything,” said three-time NBA MVP LeBron James. “We need a guy who’s not afraid to do the little things. He’s going to be huge for us.”
Head coach Mike Krzyzewski has developed a gameplan in which his team uses its superior length and athleticism to wreak havoc on the defensive end and create and convert transition opportunities on the other. One of the best man-to-man defenders and transition players in the league, 6-6 Iguodala will, indeed, play an integral role for Team USA, even in limited minutes.
“When I coached Andre (at the 2010 FIBA World Championship), I tried to use him in a variety of spots and situations and I envision that doing the same with this team,” said Coach K. “He does so many things well and his basketball IQ is so high, I feel very comfortable wherever we decide to use him."
Iguodala relishes that role. Even at the high school level, where elite prospects all too often coast on athleticism and raw talent, he always did the little things asked of him by his coaches. As a senior, he filled the stat sheet with 23.5 points, 7.9 rebounds, and 4.2 assists per game and led Lanphier High School (IL) to a 32-2 overall record and a runner-up finish in the state tournament.
That mindset hasn’t diminished with age. In each of the last four seasons, only two non-guards have averaged 10 or more points, five or more rebounds, and five or more assists; LeBron James and Andre Iguodala.
“If you just analyze what he does for your team and don’t go off of (offensive) stats, Andre was third in the league in terms of (defensive win shares for perimeter players),” said Sixer head coach Doug Collins. “He’s in such a good spot right now. I think next year he’s going to come in and be the best leader that he’s ever been.”
Collins’ son Chris, who is associate coach for Coach K at Duke and an assistant for Team USA, sees Iguodala stepping into that role already, setting the tone defensively.
“(Andre has) really stepped up vocally and his body language has been great. Even with these other great players on the team, he's been a leader on the court,” he said. “This Olympic experience is going to be a huge advantage for him going into next season with the Sixers.”
The Philly faithful can expect to see that same intensity and focus every night number nine steps out on the floor in Sixer red, white, and blue.
Note: Iguodala and Team USA begin their pursuit of gold Sunday, July 29, at 9:30 AM when they take on France.