Andre Iguodala’s potential impact on the Cavs

John Krolik of Cavs: The Blog posted a detailed analysis of Andre Iguodala’s potential impact on the Cavaliers.

Danny Ferry has done an absolutely masterful job of surrounding LeBron James with high-quality role players during his tenure as GM. That being said, thanks to LeBron getting too good too fast, Luke Jackson’s back, DaJuan Wagner’s intestines, Ricky Davis’ head, Larry Hughes’ everything, and the sins of Jim Paxson, LeBron’s never gotten a young potential superstar to grow with. (Mo Williams is great for what he is, but he’s no superstar.) This might be the Cavs’ chance to get LeBron a true running mate.

There’s also something else. Iguodala’s a lock-down perimeter defender, both on the ball and providing weak-side help. He’s got off-the-charts athleticism and a Gumby wingspan. He’s not a natural shooter, but he can make shots when they’re open. He’s a good decision-maker and can make plays. This is borderline heresy, but it’s hard not to see more than a little bit of Scottie Pippen in Iguodala.

I’m sure that the Pippen comparison is going to raise more than a few eyebrows, but Krolik isn’t saying that Iggy is as good as Pippen or really even in the same league, but the potential is there. His numbers are comparable and Pippen had the luxury of playing with an alpha dog from day one. Iguodala played with Allen Iverson for a couple of seasons (posting 50% shooting from the field and 35% from long range in 2005-06) but has otherwise been the offensive focal point of a pretty mediocre Sixers squad. If he were to join the Cavs, there is reason to believe that he would become a far more efficient player since he could exercise much better shot selection.

Krolik goes on to discuss Iggy’s defense:

First of all, Iguodala’s impact on the defensive end would be immediate. By the numbers, Iguodala may have been the best perimeter defender in basketball last season. What’s more, the numbers seem to make sense. Iguodala is a freak athlete with a 6-11 wingspan, and has been regarded as a nightmare defender ever since he came into the league. He’s also active on the weak side, as his block and steal numbers demonstrate.

His defensive prowess is confirmed by John Hollinger:

Iguodala is one of the most underrated players in the league. He’s not a great shooter or scorer, which muddies the first impression, but he’s consistent, durable, and fills out the box score. He also is one of the few stars who guards the opponent’s best player every night.

That’s probably the first place to start with Iguodala — he’s an All-Defense caliber player who can guard wings of just about any size and shape, and this fact has mostly slipped under the radar. Last season the Sixers gave up 7.4 points per 100 possessions fewer with him on the court according to Moreover, his ability to defend without fouling was phenomenal — only four shooting guards beat his rate of 1.86 personals per 40 minutes.

All right, so he’s a great defensive player and a capable offensive player who is likely to become more efficient playing alongside a generous alpha dog like LeBron. What’s not to like? Well, his salary (four-years, $56 million remaining) is pretty steep, though it’s tough to put a dollar value on his defense.

I’m not worried about that end of the court. Iguodala would make the Cavs a better defensive team. The concern is on the offensive end, where head coach Mike Brown really struggles to take advantage of his players’ strengths. How quickly can the Cavs get Iggy into the flow of things?

Though a lot can change in a few months, with Kevin Garnett’s knee, Paul Pierce’s ankle, and Vince Carter’s inconsistency, I’m not too worried about the Cavs getting out of the East come June. It would be nice to have Iguodala to throw at Kobe Bryant in a potential Finals matchup with the Lakers, and if the Sixers are insisting that Samuel Dalembert be part of the deal, he could be useful against Pau Gasol and Andrew Bynum.

More and more, it’s looking the Iguodala would be the best overall fit for the Cavs. Whatever struggles he may have on offense should be offset on the defensive end. And if LeBron leaves in the summer, the Cavs would have a good all-around player in his prime to keep the team competitive.

The issue might be Dalembert. Here’s what Krolik had to say:

There’s also the issue of what the Cavs would have to give up. If it’s just Z with a buyout and JJ, that’s one thing. However, the word is that the 76ers are looking to use Iguodala to offload Dalembert’s contract. A commenter made that work with the Cavs giving up Z, Hickson, Boobie, and Parker. That’s a lot to give up. Say what you will about all of those guys, but you’re talking about shipping out four rotation players from the league’s best team, including two starters. And as much as Z has struggled with his shot, the team still plays very well with him on the floor, and he’s the only true 4 or 5 on the team able to stretch the floor.

Assuming the Cavs can get Ilgauskas back via a buyout and re-sign, they’d be giving up Hickson, Gibson and Parker for Iguodala and Dalembert. Iggy would make Gibson and Parker expendable while Dalembert would offset the loss of Hickson. If Dan Gilbert is willing to spend the money, the Cavs should pull the trigger. At this point, it’s all about winning a title and keeping LeBron. You can’t put a price tag on that.

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