The Iguodala Question

Is it time for the Sixers to trade Andre Iguodala? (Steven M. Falk / Staff Photographer )

No use ignoring the e-mails and the comments and the discussion stemming from last night's loss to the Washington Wizards. The main topic coming out of the overtime loss was the play of Andre Iguodala, his future with this team, whether there should be a future with this team, whether it's time to trade him (or past time to trade him), whether the team plays better without him, whether it's time to play Evan Turner and Thaddeus Young, etc.


Should the 76ers trade Andre Iguodala?

Thought we'd at least gather some statistics, make some observations, and just open up the forum. Through four games this season, Iguodala is averaging 15.3 points, 6.8 assists, 4.8 rebounds, and 3.5 turnovers in 38.3 minutes a game. Iguodala is shooting 44.4 percent from the field, 36.4 percent from three (4 for 11 from three), and 52.9 percent from the line (9 for 17 from the line). Let's look specifically at last night's game: Iguodala played 38 minutes, 18 seconds and finished with 12 points, 9 assists, 4 turnovers, 3 rebounds.
Now, we know the +/- statistic is not entirely indicative of impact on the floor, there are certainly other factors that alter a player's score, but it's at least a rough estimate of how things went while a player was in the game. On Tuesday night, of the team's starters, Iguodala (-6) was the only player with a negative +/-, with Elton Brand (+11) having the best on the team. But the interesting thing is that the players that many people are arguing should be on the floormore (Lou Williams, Evan Turner, Marreese Speights, to name a few)  had bad +/- scores as well. Turner (-15) was the worst. Williams (-9) scored at will in the fourth quarter, but put the Wizards back in the game in the first half by shooting 0 for 7 and allowing John Wall to get going. Speights (-6) scored 6 points in about 17 minutes of action. 
So those are the numbers. Objectively, Iguodala's numbers are not bad; he nearly posted a double-double and was a part of the starting unit that jumped out to a 20-6 lead. The issue -- and it's a big one -- is the play in the fourth quarter and overtime. Iguodala did not play down the stretch of regulation. He came out of the game with 10:19 left in the fourth quarter, his team trailing 77-68, and checked back in with 17.3 seconds left, his team ahead 102-99, as the Sixers attempted to preserve their lead and grab their first victory of the season. Until the final defensive play, Iguodala was basically a non-factor (excluding the "near turnover" when he tried to inbound it quickly with about 10 seconds left, but the ball stayed with the Sixers). The final play, with 3.1 seconds left, is tough to diagnose. If you watch the replay, there's really no excessive error made by Iguodala, but you can make a case that these things seem to always happen to him, so it becomes a case more than anything of just frustration by repetition. For more in-depth analysis on that play, you can read last night's post: 3.1 seconds.
Iguodala's overtime minutes are a little more suspect. He played all 5:00, finished 1 for 3 from the field, 1 for 2 from the line, wih 3 points and 1 steal. Nothing terribly disturbing about those numbers except for two reoccuring problems: the missed free throw and the missed shot at the end. In an overtime where the Wizards finished 6 for 6 from the line and the Sixers were 1 for 2, that missed free throw was obviously the difference. We've also seen Iguodala miss a lot of crucial free throws in the last year. During the 2008-09 season, Iguodala was actually quite effective in end-of-game situations, even nailing a jumper at the buzzer to give the Sixers a one-game lead over the Orlando Magic in that playoff series. But last year was a slew of missed jumpers and 1 for 2 performances at the free throw line. Because that's fresh on everyone's mind, last night's overtime becomes increasingly frustrating. A missed free throw and then, at the end of regulation, a very difficult missed jump shot.
Anyone who watched that overtime knows that Iguodala was not the option on that final play. The ball was in Lou's hands, he drove to the middle and decided against going up (afterwards Doug Collins said he assumed Lou saw a shot blocker coming over and didn't think he had a chance), kicking out to Iguodala, who was not really in a great position to make a play. At that point, you have to ask yourself whether fault lies entirely on Iguodala's shoulders: He tried to make something out of nothing, yes, but he also settled for a jumper rather than penetrating and getting to the rim. And it seems like this last point is what really frustrates Sixers' fans, because they've seen too much of the arching, low-percentage jumper at the end of games. 
All of this brings us to the conclusion: What's the solution to this problem? Nothing simple, that's for sure. It sounds as if many people want to trade Iguodala to increase minutes for Thaddeus Young and Evan Turner. The idea behind this thinking is clear: "We know what we have in Iguodala, his contract is hefty, and we don't feel it's worth the price," PLUS, "We don't really know what we have in Turner and Young, their contracts are entry-level, and we need to decide what those players are worth as we move forward in building a winner." Another line of thinking is that Iguodala unfairly bears the burden for this team. He's often given the ball with only a few seconds left on the shot clock, forced to take a difficult shot, and that includes end-of-game situations. He has no post presence allowing him to penetrate to the basket, so the first step for the Sixers should be to acquire a dependable, scoring center, which could highlight Iguodala's game (and the game's of all the remaining players).
The question: Should the Sixers trade away a known quantity (Iguodala) for an unknown?
The Sixers need to evaluate their entire roster and see what trades/moves can be made. Yes, that includes Iguodala. But it's not limited to him, either, because this combination of players is not a winning combination.

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