As the reaction here at Roundball Mining Company and towards me on Twitter has trickled in surrounding the loss of Andre Iguodala a general consensus seems to be forming that the move isn’t that big a deal for the Nuggets in the 2014 season.
The explanations seem to be centering around two things, that Iguodala didn’t shoot well last season, and that he turned the ball over a lot.
Now both of those things are true and they both hurt the Nuggets at points this season but Iguodala did plenty this season to help the Nuggets, and those things are going to be very difficult to replace.
First of all Iguodala was the best Nugget on the floor defensively every single time he played. The Nuggets gave up almost 5 points per 100 possessions more when Iggy was not on the floor then when he was going from 104.9 points when he played to 109.6 points, a number that would have been last in the league, when he sat.
A player that dynamic isn’t easy to find normally and with the little bit of money that the Nuggets now have to sign players it just won’t happen. Combine this move with the trade of Kosta Koufos, the best defender of the Nuggets bigs last season and it is hard to see how the Nuggets already mediocre defense won’t plummet towards the bottom of the league.
Offensively while Iguodala struggled to space the floor and had some turnover problems the offense was still almost a full point per 100 possessions better with him on the floor then when he sat.
What Iguodala did well was incredibly important for Denver as he finished a spectacular 76 percent of his 206 shots in the restricted area and finished third on the team in assist rate at 22.4, behind only Ty Lawson’s 30.2 and Andre Miller’s 32.2 marks.
The next highest mark for a player who played significant minutes was Danilo Gallinari’s 11.2 mark, followed by Wilson Chandler’s 8.3. The mark of Evan Fournier, someone now expected to see a dramatic increase in minutes, was a bit better at 15.5 but still fell well short of Iggy’s.
So now Denver must find someone to replace not only Iguodala’s finishing at the rim (for comparison Kenneth Faried who many will probably point too finished just 62 percent of his shots there), but also his passing.
Finally Denver will have to find a way to replace 2779 minutes, a number that led the team by 266 minutes over Lawson and ranked just outside of the top 20 in the league. Fournier will pick up some of those minutes but Iguodala also played a lot at small forward where Gallinari now will moss most of the season.
Yes Andre Iguodala did some things that hurt the Nuggets but his loss is a big one.
His loss will matter on both sides of the ball and it will matter a lot.
Denver now has to pick itself up and try and replace not just fantastic wing and team defense but also find a new secondary creator to share the floor with Miller and Lawson, and someone to soak up a lot of minutes, all with a very little amount of money.
The rest of the offseason is setting up to be very interesting in Denver.