SAN FRANCISCO — Draymond Green often makes use of an expletive to convey the seniority of everybody’s favorite teammate. “Andre’s old as…” You can fill in the blank.
Iguodala, 37, joined exclusive company this week as one of only three active players to appear in 1,200 games — LeBron James and Carmelo Anthony are the others — but 10 games into his second Warriors tenure, he’s shown there is plenty of spring left in his sneakers. Sometimes literally, such as his three-dunk night Monday against Atlanta.
“Did he really?” chuckled Steph Curry when informed Monday night of the elder statesman’s high-flying performance. “He had a day off yesterday, so it worked.”
The Warriors reunited with Iguodala on a veteran minimum deal this offseason and are carefully monitoring his minutes to ensure he’s still fresh come the postseason. It’s a story as old as time. A beloved veteran signs a one-year deal to ride off into retirement where he won three championships. Only in this tale, Iguodala’s value is proving more than sentimental.
“We always talked about him it wasn’t just him coming back to do that, it was what he could do on the court, as well,” Curry continued. “He’s showing that when he’s out there. It’s huge having him back, for sure.”
After two seasons in Miami where, despite returning to the NBA Finals, Iguodala turned in the least productive years of his career, statistically, he told the New York Times that he planned to retire with Golden State.
The Warriors banked on adding his mentorship to the development of young players such as Jordan Poole, Jonathan Kuminga, Moses Moody and James Wiseman. What they didn’t count on was a reenergized Iguodala playing like he just turned 30, or at least 35.
“I’m just here having fun,” Iguodala said this week. “I don’t really have nothing to lose. I enjoy the atmosphere. I enjoy playing for Steve. It’s like Tiger (Woods)’ quote, ‘Everything from here is gravy.’”
Of the Warriors’ five most effective floor pairings (measured by plus-minus per 100 possessions), Iguodala is the only constant between them all.
With a lightened load — two DNPs in 10 games, while averaging only 20.4 minutes — Iguodala’s 13.1 player efficiency rating (PER) matches his last season with Golden State, and his output of rebounds and assists is its highest since the last time he wore a Warriors uniform.
More importantly, and harder to quantify, Iguodala’s presence on the court just makes the Warriors tick.
“The game just works when he’s on the floor,” coach Steve Kerr said recently. “Everything flows. The ball goes to the right person. The right cut is made. … Andre has always been the guy to tie it all together, and he’s back to doing that for us these days, which makes our job as a coaching staff way easier.”
Selected ninth overall in 2004, Iguodala has outlasted all but one other player from his draft class.
Dwight Howard, the No. 1 overall pick that year, will soon join Iguodala, James and Anthony in the 1,200-game club.
So it happens, three of them teamed up with the Lakers this season.
Anthony is enjoying a late-career resurgence, but James — still the King — has missed nearly as many games (5) as he’s played (6). Howard’s stats have regressed in his age-36 season.
Iguodala has settled into his new role with the Warriors, not far from his old one, and is just enjoying the journey.
“I enjoy playing. I’m still working hard,” he said, then took a pause and smiled. “Probably harder than I should be. But I’m having fun. I’m enjoying it. That’s something I’m trying to do all year. Make sure I’m helping the young guys get better.”