OAKLAND – The star and the starter, Stephen Curry, sat out with a concussion. One of the backups, Toney Douglas, was sidelined by a leg injury and another, Nemanja Nedovic, was a rookie in no position to face the Grizzlies, even playing for a coach with a history of trusting first-year players in tough situations. So it was settled.
Point guard Andre Iguodala.
Getting the title and the ball Wednesday night against Memphis made it official. Iguodala spent most of his 47 minutes of the overtime loss handling the ball as well as defending Mike Conley and Jarryd Bayless as Curry’s injury pushed the plan to use Iguodala at the point from occasional look to wide-angle view.
The results were mixed – Iguodala had 14 assists against four turnovers with three makes in 14 shots as the Grizzlies capitalized on the Curry absence to hold the Warriors to just 81 points, shockingly low for Golden State in regulation or with an extra period. Now coach Mark Jackson may be in the same situation tonight, with Curry’s availability a question mark as the game against the Lakers approaches and Iguodala looking at the possibility of another night of full-time duty at point guard.
The starting small forward and occasional shooting guard sometime running the point was part of the plan all along, ever since the Warriors signed him in July as one of the league’s offseason coups. Not like this, but definitely some backup minutes. They liked the idea of the 6-foot-6, 205-pound Iguodala there as a chance to put opponents in mismatch hell, feeling, with recent years of supporting evidence, he would be versatile enough to defend the position in many cases. There would even be times where he would initiate the offense with the starter still on the court, allowing Curry to play off the ball and get open in new ways, speaking of opponents in hell.
“It’s natural to me,” Iguodala said. “I played point guard my whole life up until my senior year of high school. Most people don’t know that. It’s just in my game. I’m the type of guy (who is) kind of a jack of all trades. Just be effective on the court.”
He played the point some with the 76ers. There weren’t the same opportunities last season in Denver, with Ty Lawson and Andre Miller in house and Iguodala new and trying, often without success, to feel comfortable in his one season on the team. The Warriors, though, said from the beginning they envisioned him in that role, with and in place of Curry.
Iguodala got spot duty there the first 11 games and was already seeing ways, on film and in practice, to build on the look in time to make a thumping impact when it would really matter, in the playoffs. The game experience while still getting in a flow with the new team, has convinced him what that unique lineup could be by April. Then Curry suffered the concussion Monday at Utah and Iguodala, and all the Warriors, got the chance for an extended test drive.
“He’s going to get opportunities there,” Jackson said. “I won’t sit here and tell you that he’ll be the backup point guard. I’ll figure it out as we go along. I believe in Kent Bazemore. I believe in (Nedovic). I believe in their ability to give us quality minutes. (Wednesday against Memphis), we were playing against an outstanding basketball team, and this is a team that you don’t want to give any life to because if you do, it can be a long night. I thought it was important to have a veteran presence on the floor making sure we got good possessions offensively because turnovers could kill you against them.”
Iguodala kept the turnovers down, but the Warriors struggled to find an offensive rhythm in the second half, an effect the Grizzlies can have on teams even when star defender Tony Allen is serving a suspension. Tonight against the Lakers may provide another test for point guard Andre Iguodala.