Once the Nuggets got on the other side of the All-Star Game last year and the chemistry started coming together, they were one of the toughest teams to beat in the NBA. They closed out the regular season with a 23-3 record, and their defense started to make progress to catch up with their offense.
Iguodala was a big part of that. Along with his 13 points, 5.4 assists and 5.3 rebounds per game, Iggy led Denver with 1.74 steals and finished ninth in Defensive Player of the Year voting.
There's one year left on Andre's contract for just over $16 million (via HoopsWorld.com), but it comes with a player option and it makes sense for him to opt out and test free agency. This will be the 10th season for Iguodala and having a deal for the next three or four seasons, even if it means taking a small pay cut annually, is beneficial to him according to Chris Tomasson of Fox Sports.
The Nuggets need to keep their starting shooting guard.
Iguodala Connects the Dots
While Iguodala had solid numbers last season, he was on the same page with his teammates and that's what made this Nuggets team function at a high level.
Denver crushed the rest of the NBA in fast-break points, having scored 19.7 per game, and Iguodala's versatility was vital to that success. With Ty Lawson, the defense has to worry about his speed and getting to the rim. With Kenneth Faried and JaVale McGee, going over the top is the main concern. With Iguodala, the opposition has to be concerned about both of those skills along with his passing.
Some of those transition opportunities were also created by Iggy's defense.
It's clear that Iguodala knows how to find gaps in the defense. He makes the players around him better, whether it's drawing the defense toward him or giving his teammates easy passing lanes.
In the half-court offense, he's a great second or third option in the pick-and-roll. When Faried comes to set the high-ball screen for Lawson, Iguodala can sit in the corner and force his defender to make a choice on whether to help or stay put. 6
Sure, there are several shooting guards that are solid from behind the arc and can penetrate the lane. However, you don't see many that have those assets along with having good vision, passing and defensive skills.
At 6'6", Iguodala is nearly a complete package at the 2.
He's a Go-to-Scorer
(clutch is defined as under two minutes with a five-point differential or less)
We know how clutch Iggy can be in the final seconds. There was the game-winning three-pointer over Joakim Noah in overtime to beat Chicago. Just two weeks later he converted the game-winning layup against Dallas and overcame Danilo Gallinari's ACL injury earlier in the contest.
Although, it goes further than that. He makes them on the big stage.
Back in 2009 in the first round of the playoffs when Iguodala was on Philadelphia, he nailed a ridiculously contested jumper to win Game 1 over Orlando (not to mention his defense on the possession after). In 2012, down one point in Game 6 of the first round against Chicago, Iguodala grabbed the defensive rebound, went coast-to-coast and drew the foul before swishing both free throws to send the 76ers to the second round.
He sent the 76ers to the second round? Isn't that what the Nuggets are trying to accomplish?
Iguodala has a method on how he's able to knock down clutch free throws.
Andre did struggle last season at the line, shooting 57.4 percent. However, he's only spent one season in Denver and that number should go back up with more experience in the Pepsi Center. He's a 72.4 percent free-throw shooter in his career.
Iggy Can Keep Denver From a Setback Next Season
There is a huge list of questions to be answered for the Nuggets next season. Who's going to be the general manager? Who's going to be the head coach? Who should they draft? Will Danilo Gallinari actually be ready by February? Is Corey Brewer coming back? Are the offensive and defensive philosophies going to change? The list goes on.
This makes Iguodala's presence that much more valuable going forward. There will be some unfamiliar faces in the organization and the Nuggets already have a solid core of players. They need to keep the roster that set a franchise-record 57 wins as intact as possible.
If there's no Iguodala and Gallinari is out for the first 50 or 60 games, what is the starting lineup going to look like? Is Evan Fournier and Wilson Chandler going to be full-time starters? Will they start their 27th-overall draft pick? Do they have to bring someone in through free agency? Is there anyone even available that would fit the starting spot at shooting guard?
Without Iggy, the best offense in the NBA last season could be in huge trouble.
According to Christopher Dempsey of The Denver Post, Lawson is a major advocate of getting Iguodala to return to Denver. There's no doubt Andre helps Ty dictate the tempo of the game and takes some of the pressure off of him.
Denver will probably have to sign Iguodala to a three or four-year deal worth at least $10 million per year. He's worth it.