HANG TIME NEW JERSEY — A day after Andrew Bynum talked about staying long-term in Philadelphia, the other All-Star in the Dwight Howard trade did the same in Denver.
“We aren’t coming in to this thinking this is just a one year deal,” Andre Iguodala said at his introductory news conference on Thursday. “We are looking to the future and definitely looking ahead looking to see how we can go forward so this isn’t a quick stop for me.
“This would be a great place for me to have some great years ahead of me and possibly ending my career here.”
Iguodala is under contract for the next two years, but with an early termination option that can make him a free agent next summer. Contract extension talks don’t need to take place for a while, but there’s reason for Denver to be excited about some continuity with a young and talented core, as Benjamin Hochman of the Denver Post writes…
Ujiri already has said he wants to sign point guard Ty Lawson to a long-term deal, and Lawson told The Denver Post last May that he was excited about that possibility. If Ujiri and team president Josh Kroenke can re-sign their backcourt, that will give Denver a thrilling nucleus going forward, knowing small forwards Danilo Gallinari and Wilson Chandler and center JaVale McGee are already signed for years to come. Meanwhile, power forward Kenneth Faried is entering the second season of his rookie contract.
“My focus,” Iguodala said, “is to help our team, not only to go out there and to play at the best of our abilities, but to believe that we’re going to make ourselves in contention to be at the top of the West. No matter what anybody else says, we are going to go out there and play for one thing and that is a championship.”
Come November, we’ll see just how well Iguodala fits with his new team. But given his strengths and the Nuggets’ weaknesses, he’ll clearly help.
The Nuggets were a poor defensive team last season, ranking 19th by allowing 103.4 points per 100 possessions. Iguodala, of course, is maybe the best perimeter defender in the league. Over the last two seasons, the Sixers were much better defensively when he was on the floor…
Sixers efficiency, last two seasons
Pace = Possessions per 48 minutes
OffRtg = Points scored per 100 possessions
DefRtg = Points allowed per 100 possessions
NetRtg = Point differential per 100 possessions
When Iguodala was on the floor, the Sixers were a better defensive team in every aspect. Their opponents shot worse from 2-point range and 3-point range, while turning the ball more often, getting to the free throw line less, and grabbing fewer offensive rebounds.
The Nuggets did a decent job of forcing turnovers, rebounding and keeping their opponents off the line last season. But they ranked 20th in opponent 2-point percentage and dead last in opponent 3-point percentage. In fact, they allowed 276 more points (4.2 per game) from beyond the arc than any other team in the league.
Iguodala’s length (especially at the shooting guard position), athleticism and willingness to work defensively will certainly help the Nuggets defend the 3-point line. And they could be one of the most improved defensive teams in the league next season.
Offensively, the Nuggets’ biggest weakness was also at the 3-point line, ranking 24th at 33.2 percent from beyond the arc last season. Iguodala had his best 3-point shooting season last year, connecting on 39.4 percent of his shots from beyond the arc. But the guy he’s replacing, Arron Afflalo, had his worst 3-point shooting season since his rookie year, and still shot better (39.8 percent) than Iguodala.
Iguodala should also flourish in transition with the Nuggets, who led the league with 20.2 fast break points per 100 possessions last season. Afflalo ranked ninth in the league with 244 fast-break points (43 more than Iguodala), but Iguodala is a better finisher at the rim. In fact, among 213 players who attempted at least 100 shots from the restricted area last season, Iguodala ranked fifth, shooting them at 71.8 percent. Afflalo ranked 56th at 63.6 percent.
So we’ll have to see just how well Iguodala fits in offensively. Improvement from the free throw line would certainly help. But there’s no doubt that he’ll make a big difference the other end of the floor, where the Nuggets needed help most.