How does Iguodala upgrade Warriors?
In nine seasons, Andre Iguodala averaged 15.1 points, 5.8 rebounds, 4.9 assists and 1.7 steals per game. (USA TODAY IMAGES)
Andre Iguodala is, unlike Dwight Howard, not a lightning bolt for rampant comment. His motivations are not questioned, his desire to be somewhere else is not in the background, his ability to play with Stephen Curry is not an issue...
...and the Warriors’ roster didn’t have to be gutted to get him. This, in and of itself, is a delightful bit of business, if it stops there.
[RELATED: Warriors agree to deal with Andre Iguodala]
Losing Andris Biedrins in the deal with Utah is, well, not a loss, and neither is Richard Jefferson. Brandon Rush could be, his 25 minutes of Warrior basketball created nary a scratch, let alone a dent, in team annals. And draft picks are draft picks, dependent upon whom is doing the drafting. Even in a rich draft like 2014, mistakes can and will be made.
But the best news for Golden State came when Howard decided to (a) leave the Los Angeles Lakers and (b) go to the Houston Rockets, thereby eliminating the temptation for the Warriors to turn to Howard at all. They took a good trade, resisted the notion of risking it all for the hope of the Howard of four years ago, and end up upgrading the roster without gutting it a minute later.
(It should be noted that Howard's decision to go to the Rockets is still in question.)
Put another way, Iguodala would have made them better, period. Howard is a coin flip at best, as the Rockets are about to discover. Remember, he lost interest in Orlando because he wanted to go to Brooklyn, “settled” for the Lakers despite a back problem, and became more load than lodestone in a season the Lakers will hate for years. Now he is a Rocket, mostly because he didn’t want to be lectured by Kobe Bryant anymore, and that’s not exactly a stirring endorsement.
Thus, Golden State escaped the fear that came with wondering if Howard was truly sold on Oakland. And at the cost of three spare parts, two draft picks and the impetus to chase Jarrett Jack or Carl Landry, they become at least arguably better.
Iguodala, you see, has nothing but experience playing on teams not laden down by one superstar, both in Philadelphia and more recently in Denver. Yes, he had his time with Allen Iverson in Philadelphia and coped quite nicely, but also thrived without him and was a key component in Denver’s superstar-free team. Thus, he can live cheerfully and rewardingly on Stephen Curry’s team – and yes, this is absolutely and utterly Curry’s team, without question, qualification or hypotheticals.
In that way, the Warriors have assured themselves benefit if they get nothing else. This, in fact, only turns weird of the Lakers, who have less than $10 million in salary committed for 2014-'15, get LeBron James and change the nature of the conference again – and that is something about which the Warriors can do nothing.
Howard was, in short, an overreach for Golden State once they got Iguodala. And Iguodala’s price tag was not a modest one, between the draft choice and the salary absorption. But best of all for the Goldens, it must have felt very cool to look toward the rest of the league as they walked away without Howard and said, “No thanks. We’re good."