Tag Archives: Andre Igudola

Andre Iguodala: Everything You Didn’t Know

By now you’ve probably read or heard of the Iguodala story a thousand times over. This could possibly be a different take on Andre that you wouldn’t see from many other columns, blogs, or articles. I’m not unbiased when it comes to my man Iggy, and I will fully admit that. I am a Philadelphia 76ers fan before anything else. I grew up a fan of Allen Iverson and my love for the team stayed even after he left for the Nuggets. The Sixers needed someone to step up as the team’s best player and who better for the job than the young, extremely athletic wing with the same initials of A.I. ? Andre was never expected to be a star or the leading man for a team, but my Sixers threw all that responsibility on him pretty early.

Coming out of college, he was scouted as he could be a great defender, extremely athletic, but was very poor on the offensive end and nobody knew if he could translate his game to the NBA effectively. In college at Arizona, he won most valuable player on the team by votes from the rest of his teammates. He had 3 triple doubles in his sophomore season which is 2nd most in a single season of that conference (1st is Jason Kidd). Everyone knew he could effect many aspects of the game, but nonetheless looking back there were 7 guys picked over him that should not have been. Dwight Howard, Emeka Okafor, Ben Gordon, Shaun Livingston, Devin Harris, Josh Childress, Luol Deng, and (facepalm) Rafael Araujo were all picked over him. Obviously Howard is the one exception, but every single other guy mentioned doesn’t even start; hell 3 of them aren’t even in the league anymore.

During the Iggy era in Philadelphia, we went to the playoffs multiple times without much success because of the supreme lack of overall talent compared to our competition. Despite those multiple appearances without much surrounding talent, Iggy was only an allstar once. He never quite earned the respect he deserved from the coaches in the league. Even though Iggy was known to be an elite defender for many years, he only made all defensive teams twice. His best seasons went completely unnoticed when in the 06-07 season he averaged 18.2 points per game, 5.7 rebounds, 5.7 assists, and 2.0 steals all while shooting 44% from the field. In the 08-09 season, he averaged 18.8 points, 5.7 rebounds, 5.3 assists, and 1.6 steals while shooting 47%. Both of those seasons Iggy received 0 recognition, and they were easily his two best years. In the playoffs, the team as a whole couldn’t quite get it done, but Iggy more than did his part. In 2010, facing the defending eastern conference champions, the Sixers managed to push this series to 6. Notably, Iggy had a game winner in Orlando in this series. He’s always been a clutch player believe it or not. You can look it up on YouTube he has more than you would expect. Our one saving grace was the 2012 season. which ironically was Iggy’s last season, when we took down the 1st seeded Bulls after Rose went down and came VERY close to beating the Boston Celtics; which even to my own surprise took 7 games for us to go down.

That following offseason began a new chapter for Andre in the infamous trade that netted the 76ers Andrew Bynum, the Nuggets got Iggy and some picks, and the Magic received the 76ers young center Nikola Vucevic (facepalm). The Nuggets ascended that year with young Ty Lawson making a huge jump, Danilo Gallinari being the main scorer for more than half the season, and once again Andre being the glue that holds everything together as the playmaker, the 2nd best rebounder, and guarding the best guy on the other team every night. The Nuggets became the 3rd seed and became an underdog pick for many. Then that’s when we all got to meet a guy named Steph Curry. Steph dominated the Nuggets, completely dismantling them. That offseason Iggy chose not to resign with the Nuggets but instead went to join the Warriors.

It was the kind of move I said at the time that could push the Warriors over the hump 3-4 years down the road from that point. Andre’s first season with the Warriors started out very well. He hit a game winner against the Thunder after a ridiculous Westbrook shot, then had a 2nd game winner against the Hawks. Then a leg injury seemed to hamper him the rest of the season. He was still effective, but not playing up to his standards. Then came the 2014-15 season.  With a head coaching change that had many scratching their heads, and even though I was in favor of a scheme change for more ball movement; I still wasn’t expecting this much of an overhaul. Kerr came in and asked the former all-star before the regular season to come off the bench. Initially, Andre took the role reluctantly but then soon began to thrive leading the 2nd unit. There was a legitimate argument that Andre should have been 6th man this year even though the stats were not anything special. You could not quantify his overall impact when he came into games.

Then the playoffs came where he played tremendous defense, in particular LeBron and Harden had a lot of trouble whenever Andre was standing in front of them. This Finals series became a story about Andre more than anything else. The Cavs plan was to double Steph any chance they got, keep a guy face guarding Klay, and have someone else drop down to protect the paint. The Cavs were doing their best to force Andre and Draymond to beat them. It took a few games for Draymond to step up, but Andre was answering the call from the very beginning. It just wasn’t enough and the Warriors were forcing a lot of unnecessary shots in the first 3 games. Out of those 3 games there was no doubt that through all of the struggles, Andre had performed head and shoulders above everyone else on his own team. He was playing like a veteran who’s been there before despite never reaching a conference finals before this season. His defense on LeBron, his timely buckets when the Cavs forced him to shoot, and the way he ran in transition is what earned himself the MVP.

This is a special time for me. In basketball, as a fan, I don’t seem to win when going for my teams or guys. I am a 76ers fan and the closest we’ve come to winning anything is when Iverson was trying to find a way to beat the best duo in history that was Shaq and Kobe (another argument for another day). Even though the 76ers are not holding up a trophy right now, it feels like a small victory for me. The guy I grew up with for a good portion of my life that was leading my team to playoff appearances has won a ring. But he didn’t just get on a good team to ride along for the ring. Andre Iguodala is the NBA Finals MVP. He has etched himself into history and possibly has a spot in the hall of fame waiting for him because of this. Although we’re suffering through one of the worst stretches in franchise history, the rest of my 76er fans should feel a small victory for the guy who tried to carry us for so long; that now has a Finals MVP.

Advertisements

Warriors (1) vs. Pelicans (8) Preview : Something to Prove

Golden State Warriors (67-15) vs. New Orleans Pelicans (45-37)

90c5b970-e419-11e4-8db2-51025badac32_USATSI_8514452_221257_lowres

Ever since he was drafted Steph Curry has been proving doubters wrong. His first couple of seasons in the league were filled with ankle injuries, thus sparking the ”what if he was healthy,” line. We’re seeing right now what the answer to that quote would be as Curry is tearing the league up. He’s already in the debate for best shooter ever and he’s arguably the best point guard in basketball. This season alone has seen Curry put the Warriors in elite category. They’re arguably the best team on both ends of the court and only seem to be getting better in each game.

In just his third year being a pro Anthony Davis has already led a team to the playoffs. Playing in a small market Davis hasn’t really gotten the recognition he deserves in regards to him being deemed an elite player. He’s in the conversation for MVP as well as Defensive Player of The Year.

Starters:

PG: S.Curry vs. J.Holiday

SG: K.Thompson vs. E.Gordon

SF: H.Barnes vs. T.Evans

PF: D.Green vs. A.Davis

C: A.Bogut vs. O.Asik

Both teams have been a surprise this season. No expected the Warriors to make the huge leap they did going from Mark Jackson to Steve Kerr as coach. Not too many outside of the city of New Orleans saw Anthony Davis leading a Pelicans team to nearly 50wins and a playoff berth with Monty Williams as head coach.

The Warriors won the season series 3-1 winning the games played at home by an average margin of 21.5 points. When playing in New Orleans the Warriors won a game by six points (OT was needed) and lost by three points in the other game.

Keys:

Golden State

The Warriors have to continue playing the way they have been. Thompson and Curry should be able to light up the Pelicans back court and stifle Anthony Davis down low (Bogut must remain healthy). G’State also has arguably the best bench in basketball having guys like Igudola, David Lee, Barbosa and Shaun Livingston coming in and maintaining/expanding leads of their own. This team is ultra deep and they should be able to use that to their advantage.

New Orleans

The Pelicans are nice young feisty team that possesses a ton of talent. (A coaching change could bring out the best in Holiday, Evans and potentially Gordon.) They can run the floor and they have floor spacers in Ryan Anderson & Quincy Pondexter who come off the bench. To have a chance against Golden State the Pelicans have control the tempo of the game and they have to make things rough on Stephen Curry. If Davis can dominate down low and Holiday contains Curry to an extent the Pelicans have a shot. Tyreke Evans also has to be productive as well.

Prediction Warriors beat the Pelicans 4-2. G’State will win a couple of games by a large margin, but with that being said I’m expecting Anthony Davis to have a Curry like coming out party (few years back against Denver) and dominate one to two games. Tyreke Evans will also be essential in the Pelicans claiming a 2nd victory in this series. The talent gap isn’t too far apart when describing the starting lineups. It’s the bench that’ll kill N.O.

Defying Father Time

image

For the last couple of years Kobe and his play has put fans and analysts in a bad mind frame. Before this season started there was talk of Kobe Bryant showing his age and slowly becoming a second tier player.
         The talk first started two seasons ago after Kobe and his Lakers got swept by the Dallas Mavericks. In that series against Dallas, Kobe wasn’t able to carry his team to victories. In the first two games of that series Kobe got out played by Dirk in crunch time. Kobe was also getting beat by J.J Barea and Jason Terry whenever he guarded them. And last but not least, Kobe couldn’t get the looks he wanted because of the tough defense being played by Shawn Marion, Jason Kidd and Deshawn Stevenson. After the series concluded we found out Kobe was playing on one knee and messed up his ankle. So not only was he showing his age, his body was deteriorating.
        During that offseason Kobe went to Germany and had knee surgery on his ailing knee. After the surgery there was talk of Kobe showing some spark and playing younger. After hearing that fans of Kobe ,and others, became excited about the upcoming season. But during the pre-season Kobe tore a ligament in his wrist that happened to be on his shooting hand. Despite the injury Kobe played and turned some heads. During that season Kobe averaged: 28pts 5reb 5ast 30% 3pt 43% FGP 84% FT in 39mpg. Compared to the 25pts 5reb 5ast 32% 3PT 45% FGP 83% FT in 34mpg Yes his scoring went up but his efficiency went down; which meant he wasn’t getting easy looks. So instead of raving about the scoring he was doing people knocked him for being slower and inefficient.
         During the Playoffs last season Kobe’s age got to him. In the series against OKC Kobe got out played by Durant, James Harden and Westbrook. During the 4th Quarters Kobe couldn’t close like he used to; Kobe couldn’t defend; Kobe couldn’t get the looks he wanted; Kobe couldn’t make the plays that needed to be made. As a result Kobe and the Lakers went home in five games. After that series there were talks of Kobe running out of gas. Kobe showing his age. Kobe’s body is done. Kobe would be lucky to average 20+ points next season. And other ignorant claims. During the Olympics Kobe looked out of place at times when playing with Chris Paul, Kevin Durant, LeBron, Melo, Igudola and others. He couldn’t run the floor like they were doing. He couldn’t score like they could. He couldn’t defend like them. And after hearing and witnessing those type of things there was only one thing that could be said: Father Time Has Finally Caught Up With Him. People stuck with that until the start of the season.
       Once the season started we saw a younger, quicker, stronger, faster, efficient Kobe Bryant. Despite him being hampered by injuries this season ( Hip, Foot, Ankle, Ankle, Hand, Knee, Flu etc,) he averages 27ppg 6reb 6ast 33% 3pt 46% FGP 83% FT in 38mpg. Compared to the past two seasons all of his numbers are up and he’s playing better defensively. 
         After 16 (17 if you count now,) seasons in the NBA players usually become shells of themselves. Hell after 13+ season players’ productions drop off because of their ages and the wear and tear their bodies have consumed thru the duration of their career. But not Kobe Bean Bryant.
At age 34 with 16 1/2 seasons under his belt, numerous injuries and plenty of excuses to live off on, Kobe continues to defy the odds and fight Father Time. Instead of getting worse he’s getting better. Instead of aging he’s getting younger. Instead of giving up he keeps fighting. In cases of him losing to Father Time he keeps rewriting.

image