Andre Iguodala’s hands are some of the quickest and strongest in the league.
And it is because of his ability to rip the ball away from defenders with ease that Iguodala was one of the most important players for the Golden State Warriors when they went to five straight NBA Finals from 2015-19.
Now, though, Iguodala is in a state of transition in his career. With the Warriors having to shed salary to complete the D’Angelo Russell sign-and-trade, Iguodala was sent to the Memphis Grizzlies, along with a protected future first-round pick.
Still, the Warriors haven’t forgotten what Iguodala, the 2015 Finals MVP, has done for the franchise.
Warriors co-chairman Joe Lacob announced in a statement Sunday that Iguodala’s No. 9 would be retired and hang in the rafters at Chase Center, the Warriors’ new arena.
“He has been absolutely vital to our success during five consecutive appearances in the NBA Finals and three championships,” Lacob said, per NBA.com. “We thank Andre for all of his contributions and look forward to seeing his number in the rafters at Chase Center.”
Iguodala, 35, is coming off his 15th NBA season. He is on the last year of his contract, and he is owed $17.2 million for the 2019-20 season. The Grizzlies have no plans of buying him out, though, and they’re reportedly exploring trade options, per ESPN’s Tim McMahon.
With Iguodala’s career in flux, it’s going to be interesting to see where he plays to begin the next season. The Houston Rockets and Dallas Mavericks are two teams that are interested, per McMahon.
Throughout their Finals’ runs, the Warriors routinely had one of the best defenses in the league, and Iguodala was an important factor in why the Warriors’ defense was so dominant.
He’d put pressure on opposing offenses by playing stifling defense on the perimeter. He would play passing lanes, and he wouldn’t let opposing players get shots they wanted. During each of his six seasons with the Warriors, Iguodala ranked in the top five on the team for steals per game.
Though Iguodala is at the back end of his career, he is still valuable, especially for a team aspiring to win a title.
Iguodala isn’t the high flyer he used to be, nor does he score as much as he did when he played with the Philadelphia 76ers early in his career. But what Iguodala is still productive at is locking down the perimeter. That’s important for any team with title hopes to have, particularly in an era where shooting three-pointers are emphasized.
Defending the perimeter is a team effort, and one person’s efforts won’t keep teams from making easy baskets. But having someone like Iguodala does help, particularly if a team has other good perimeter defenders. The Warriors had that in place, with Draymond Green and Klay Thompson being two of the best defenders in the league.
For Iguodala, it’s great that the Warriors are retiring his number, acknowledging how important he was for the team. And even though Iguodala is heading into his 16th season, he still has a good deal to offer any team.