This Grantland profile on Andre Iguodala is probably the best thing you'll read today

This Grantland profile on Andre Iguodala is probably the best thing you'll read today

Well, the best thing not on this website, anyway. Master profiler Jonathan Abrams has taken on longtime NBA enigma (and Philadelphia 76er of nearly a decade) Andre Iguodala with his latest opus, and the article paints a typically complete, compelling and complex portrait of the oft-misunderstood baller.

You should really go to Grantland and read the whole thing yourself, but in case you're on a schedule at the moment, here's some highlights before you can get a full lunch break's worth of reading in:

  • 'Dre always wanted to be Pippen. "Llike every basketball-dribbling Illinois kid growing up in the 1990s, he practiced his fadeaway like MJ. But Iguodala really wanted to be like Scottie. And the more he watched, the more he realized that Jordan's teammate Scottie Pippen influenced the game in profound ways, often without scoring...Iguodala studied how Pippen defended Indiana's point guard, Mark Jackson, in the 1998 conference finals. Guarding the shorter Jackson, Pippen almost single-handedly denied ball movement on his side of the court."
  • Even in high school, he was a second banana. "[Richard] McBride leapfrogged Iguodala and everyone else, starting on the team's varsity squad from the moment he arrived on campus. 'We've had a lot of great players, but Rich McBride coming out his eighth-grade year was the best player I've ever seen in Springfield, by far,' said Pat McGuire, a former Lanphier assistant. 'Talentwise, he was ahead of the game. Andre was in his shadow.'"
  • He never considered the NBA until the year before he was drafted. "One day, [teammate Hassan] Adams presented Iguodala with a printout of an online mock draft. An analyst had projected Iguodala as a first-round selection. Iguodala said he hadn't considered himself an NBA prospect before reading the mock draft. It changed him. 'I wasn't a college student [anymore],' Iguodala said. 'Everything was basketball. It was all about 'How do I get to a place I hadn't even dreamed about?' I didn't have fun in college because I was so focused on basketball.'"
  • He might not have had fun in college, but at least he had a potentially Three's Company-esque living situation. "Iguodala moved in with two female soccer players, and their crisscrossed schedules worked to perfection. They were hardly home when Iguodala was. He was hardly home when they were. His solitary life paid off."
  • Elton Brand and company used to call him "Malcolm X". "'He loves his friends,' Brand continued. 'But if you're not — we used to call him Malcolm X. He'd just give you his attitude if you were against him. It's a positive thing — if you're his friend or you're on his team, he'll do anything for you.'"
  • He still smarts over the timing of his trade from Philly. "'I spoke to Doug damn near every day throughout the Olympics. The day before the trade, he was like, 'Great job with the game last night.' I think we beat Nigeria by 80 or something crazy like that. He was like, 'Can't wait to take the energy from the Olympics and take it to the season'....I wasn't upset about the trade, it was the timing. It was like, 'I'm in the Olympics, I'm playing some meaningful minutes, and you're trading me in the medal round.''"
  • He still doesn't get why Philadelphia didn't appreciate his Sixers teams. "'They're saying the team hasn't had much success since Iverson's team went to the Finals,' Iguodala said. 'We only missed the playoffs twice. They were talking like we were just this bum squad the whole time I was there.'"
  • He gets Jerry West's seal of approval. "[West] then told Iguodala, 'You would have loved playing with me. And I would have loved playing with you. 'Compliments like that from the Logo don't come often. 'Don't let it go to your head,' he said before departing."

Nerlens Noel to get one-on-one experience while Sixers on road

Nerlens Noel to get one-on-one experience while Sixers on road

Being immersed in the team is important for Nerlens Noel, and so is continuing his rehab. 

While the Sixers are on the road for three days to play the Grizzlies and Pelicans, Noel will remain in Philadelphia to work out at the training complex in Camden, New Jersey. The team is not scheduled to practice in between games, so staying back allows Noel another day to get on the court.

“[I want him to] just start playing more and have a ball in his hands, get hit, physical, feel people, play one-on-one,” head coach Brett Brown said.

Noel has yet to play this season because of elective arthroscopic left knee surgery in October. He rejoined the Sixers after completing the first phase of his rehab in Birmingham, Alabama. There still is no timetable for his return. 

Brown has said there is a “classroom” element to Noel’s return. He has to learn a roster with new players and schemes. 

The on-the-court side of it is a reacclimation to the intensity of the league. Regardless of how many games Noel already has played in the NBA, there is an adjustment period getting back into the grind of the competition. Brown believes the time in the gym this week will help Noel prepare for the level of intensity he will face in his return. 

“It’s such fool’s gold to think somebody’s going to jump back into NBA basketball after you haven’t played for so long. I don’t care how athletic he is,” Brown said. “It’s a man’s world, this league, and there’s a physicality and there’s a real-time reaction you have to have to play in the game. You can’t make that up in practice, you can’t make that up playing one-on-one, but you can better position him instead of just going out to get shots. I want him to feel a body, get hit, hit back, play one-on-one, those types of things.”

Noel had been assigned to the Sixers’ Development League affiliate, the Delaware 87ers, to get in practice time when the Sixers had a game. The Sixers may forego another assignment and keep Noel at their facility as the Sevens also have two games in the next three days. 

Joel Embiid finally struggles in Sixers' loss to Nuggets

Joel Embiid finally struggles in Sixers' loss to Nuggets

BOX SCORE

Joel Embiid has been making the NBA look easy. Rookie of the Month honors, five double-doubles in 13 games, seven performances of 20 points or more … all having missed the last two years rehabbing from foot injuries.

Embiid, though, still is a player learning the league. Night’s like Monday’s lackluster showing are going to happen, even if it seemed unexpected against the struggling Denver Nuggets. 

“We’ve been used to seeing Jo have superhuman nights,” Brett Brown said after the Sixers’ 106-98 loss (see Instant Replay). “I thought Joel was down tonight.” 

Embiid tallied a total 16 points (5 for 15 from the field, 1 for 3 from three, 5 for 6 from the line) with four rebounds, one assist, a career-high five blocks, three turnovers and three fouls in 25:32. 

He had a quiet first half with six points (2 for 5 from the field) and one rebound in 9:21. The biggest struggle came in the third quarter. Embiid scored a single point off a free throw and shot 0 for 6 from the floor. By the end of three, he was shooting 18.2 percent. 

The big man said he needed to be better at passing out of the double team. He committed two turnovers in the third. 

“I wasn’t getting to my spot and I wasn’t getting what I’m used to getting,” Embiid said of the first three quarters. “I’m going to go back and watch the tape and see what I did wrong.” 

Embiid bounced back for another Embiid-like offensive effort in the fourth. He dropped nine points off an efficient 3 for 4 shooting in 7:31. Still, it wasn’t enough. 

“I made a couple shots,” Embiid said. “It didn’t help us win, so I don’t think it matters.”

Brown noticed Embiid rushing his game. He also thought Embiid’s balance was off, something the big man has been dealing with all season as he continues to find his legs. 

Embiid will not play in Tuesday's game against the Grizzlies. It is part of his workload management in which he does not play both games of a back-to-back. Expect him to hone in on game film until his next matchup, and get back on the roller coaster that can be a first year in the NBA. 

“It's just part of a young man's growth,” Brown said. “It just happens. I don't think we need to read too deeply into it. I think, in many ways, to expect from time to time not as good of a performance as we have been used to is fair enough.”