Tuesday, May 17, 2011
Posted: 9:15 p.m.
By Dei Lynam
This is the third part of Sizing up the Sixers, a position-by-position look at the team. Part two took a look at shooting guard. Up next: Power forward on Thursday.
Andre Iguodala has logged more than 21,000 regular season minutes in 553 games, all as a starter for the 76ers. Iguodala began his career at small forward, but two seasons ago Eddie Jordan dabbled with him as a shooting guard.
A slasher and finisher with a shaky outside shot, Iguodala is best suited to be a three.
Earlier this year I characterized No. 9 as a conundrum. After seven NBA seasons you would think you would know a guy, but Iguodala remains a difficult puzzle to solve.
For his career, Iguodala is averaging 15.6 points, 5.8 rebounds, 4.8 assists and 1.8 steals. Iguodala and LeBron James are the only two active players to average at least those points, rebounds and assists while averaging a minimum of 1.7 steals. Michael Jordan, Jerry West, Magic Johnson, Larry Bird, Clyde Drexler, Scottie Pippen, Walt Frazier and Rick Barry round out the 10 all-time.
Iguodala's statistics are closest across the board to that of Pippen (17.5, 7.6, 5.0 and 1.9). But Pippen spent the bulk of his career playing alongside Jordan, and the duo won six championships. Iguodala played alongside Allen Iverson for two full seasons and 15 games of a third, but the Sixers rebuilding process was already underway.
The other part of Iguodala that is difficult to digest is his non-committal attitude about playing in Philadelphia. He says he has never asked to be traded, but he doesnt say he loves the City of Brotherly Love or his teammates.
Warm and fuzzy has never been his style.
His cold persona coupled with his six-year, 82 million contract bring criticism his way. He is the eighth-highest paid small forward in the league behind Rashard Lewis, Andrei Kirilenko, James, Carmelo Anthony, Paul Pierce, Rudy Gay and Brandon Roy. Luol Deng, Tayshun Prince and Danny Granger are the three right behind him.
Lesser paid small forwards considered at a higher level than Iguodala would be Kevin Durant, Manu Ginobili and possibly Gerald Wallace. Durants salary doubles next season as a result of his max contract extension.
Iguodala made second All-Defensive team this year, a first in his career. Nightly he guarded the oppositions best offensive player. Doug Collins was touting him for first team because his defensive numbers were worthy. When Kobe Bryant came to town Iguodala held him to nine points on 3-for-11 shooting. On opening night, James had a modest 5-for-12 shooting performance and committed nine turnovers.
Grangers first encounter this year with Iguodala guarding him resulted in a 2-for-14 shooting night. They are examples and they are not the exception Iguodalas best asset is his defense. Unfortunately, he plays in a league where the best scorers and shooters are glorified before those who make those guys miss.
If not Iguodala, then who is the Sixers starting small forward? For this team and this coach, Thaddeus Young is not the choice. He is a hybrid power forward who causes nightmare mismatches. Occasionally, Young finds himself playing the small forward position, but it is not a steady diet. Most times when Young enters the game he replaces Elton Brand at power forward, and Brand slides to center. Brand and Young will be our focus on Thursday.
Andres Nocioni, who was acquired last summer in a trade with Sacramento, is a small forward. Collins loved the Argentinians toughness, but the soon to be 32-year-olds most productive NBA seasons appear to be behind him. Nocioni did start 17 games of the 54 he played, but his three-point percentage (35.6) was the second-lowest of his seven years in the NBA.
In the playoffs Nocioni got the nod ahead of Evan Turner in Game 1, but after that Collins realized Turner needed the experience, and what the rookie could offer was more than Nocioni at this stage of his game. Nocioni is on the books for 6.6 million next season, and the team has a option for the following year. If he does not go elsewhere as piece in a significant trade, his minutes likely will decrease next season.
Thursday we examine the power forward position. Brand arguably was the Sixers most consistent player this past season. Young is a restricted free agent coming off a very productive season, but what is his future with the Sixers?
E-mail Dei Lynam at email@example.com.
Related: Sizing up the Sixers: Power forward Sizing up the Sixers: Shooting guard