With the start of the new NBA season now only a few weeks away, it is clear that this is a big year for many teams and individuals.
Can the Miami Heat prove they were no flash in the pan? Can the Los Angeles Lakers reclaim the crown with their revamped roster? Will Kevin Durant finally lead his team to the promised land?
All this and more will begin to unfold as the months progress, but one person not getting enough time and consideration is Andre Iguodala. Make no mistake, this is a big year for him too, and perhaps he may surprise a few people.
To find out exactly why Iguodala is being overlooked, it is necessary to look at the circumstances he finds himself in. Sent to the Denver Nuggets from the Philadelphia 76ers as part of that monstrous four team Dwight Howard deal, he was not even the most important player who switched hands, despite being an All-Star and gold medal winner at this summer’s Olympic games, and so the glare of the media was not on him during the trade.
On top of that, the Nuggets have become known now as a team that generates a bit of preseason buzz because of the potential they have, before ultimately wheezing across the finish line and exiting the postseason fairly swiftly. So Iguodala is a product both of the situation which landed him in Denver, and because of the identity of the team he is now on. However, it is to some people’s detriment that they sleep on ‘Iggy’ as there is reason for optimism once more in the Mile High City, and Iguodala may be the perfect player to bring the team together.
Let’s look at the facts. Last year for the 76ers, who made it to the Eastern Conference semis having knocked off the top seeded, although Derrick Rose-less Chicago Bulls, Iguodala averaged 12.4 points and 6.1 rebounds. Throw in 5.5 assists, and it is clear these are not mind blowing numbers by any stretch. But the 28-year-old brings more than just numbers to this Nuggets team.
On a decent 76ers roster he was very much the man, and he did deliver sometimes on that title.
But now in Denver, where each position is arguably two deep with quality talent, Iguodala doesn’t have to be the go-to guy all of the time.
Indeed, Danilo Gallinari is probably the better shooter of the two and may command the ball in clutch moments, and Ty Lawson can do some wonderful things as well.
In other words, the workload is spread.
Iguodala is a top quality defender and is very selfless for somebody who made the All-Star team last year, choosing to include his teammates wherever possible. Make no mistake, he can take over a game when he needs to, but just by integrating into the Denver system with all of the talent he possesses, Iguodala can make a huge difference. He is the type of player Nuggets coach George Karl likes, tough, determined, willing to fit into the team and work hard.
Say it quietly, but Iguodala is exactly the opposite of the last All-Star Denver boasted and lost, Carmelo Anthony. However, this may be what the franchise needs to get over that breakup, a new direction. There is no doubt Anthony is an incredible talent, but his attitude of trying to make plays happen on his own wnet against George Karl's philosphy. This is not Iguodala’s game, at least not naturally, and so there is every reason to believe he will bring the best out of the Nuggets franchise, and they will get the best out of him. He is entering the prime of his career as well it should be noted.
The Denver Nuggets are not going to win an NBA title this year. They should, however, be counted as dark horses and a team to approach with caution. After all, who saw the Dallas Mavericks winning it all in 2011?
This Nuggets team has a lot of talent at their disposal, spearheaded by Iguodala, who’s style of play may fit perfectly in Denver. He likely won’t be a "20-10" guy on a nightly basis, although he certainly could be if he wanted to, but he is more likely to do what the team asks of him, whatever that may be. Getting that sort of attitude and commitment from an All-Star is infectious to a team, and may spur them on to greater heights.
The Nuggets have been here before and lived through some hype before ultimately failing, but this year something feels different. Yes, when it’s all said and done we’ll be talking about the Heat and Kobe and Durant, but we’ll also be murmuring about the Nuggets and Iguodala too, and how they were the unlikely pair who came together at the perfect time to become a factor in the NBA.