Andre Iguodala has recently been traded to Miami, and will reportedly sign a 2 year extension worth $30 million. The details are still being finalized, as sources say Miami is engaging in discussion for a 3 team trade, including Memphis and OKC. However, no matter how it all plays out, a clear enough outline is present to analyze how Miami changes with the addition of Iggy.
As of February 5th, the Miami Heat are tied for 3rd in the East and are 1.5 games behind the 2nd seed. Their unanticipated success can be credited to a variety of players and organizational leaders, but most will consider Jimmy Butler to be the leader of the squad. His departure from his last 2 teams was… unorthodox… but it looks like he finally found a group of guys willing to learn and work off the court, which shows its benefits on the court. At the age of 30, Butler is averaging 21 points, 7 rebounds, 6 assists, and 2 steals, while logging only 35 minutes a game.
However, what general stats don’t show, is Butler’s ability to lead and trust his teammates. Not many people realize that Butler has the ability to be a top scorer in the league. If he desires, Butler has the potential to survive every game through “iso” ball, which would improve his stats tremendously and increase his global popularity, but, Butler decided to choose the path of team success over individual achievement. He did this by indirectly stepping down as the primary ball-handler, which let the others, such as Adebayo, Nunn, and Herro to get more scoring opportunities. This increased exposure to different situations allowed Miami’s young players to maximize their potential and grow confidence, which will ultimately increase the long-term potential of a successful season, and more importantly, postseason.
Come playoff time, different assets contribute to success and longevity. Each team needs specific elements to their roster, and when analyzing Miami’s situation, the most important attribute is production. Everyone can count on Butler producing at a high level when the spotlight is on him, but that same expectation is questionable when the light goes to the other players. Because most of the bench’s success comes from young talent, the low level of experience can present certain detrimental experiences. How will the team know that these young, inexperienced players will produce at a high level? What will the coach do if these players can’t perform in crunch time moments?
This is where Iguodala comes in.
Although Iggy is well past his prime age, he can provide many physical and mental attributes to help the team succeed. Iguodala can stabilize a balance of production off the bench, while not interfering with the gameplan created for the young players. When Jimmy is off the floor, Iggy will continue to push the team to its same expectations both offensively and defensively.
Offensively, Iguodala is a solid ball-handler who can create and run plays for the team. Although he is a below-average perimeter shooter, the 2015 Finals MVP is an aggressive scorer who can finish through contact. Defensively, Iguodala is a polished perimeter defender who can guard positions 1-4. More importantly, the coach can rely on Iguodala to be able to guard the opponent’s best backcourt player, when necessary.
Moreover, having a player with these full attributes will allow Butler to play games with an easier state of mind. The league saw how Kawhi Leonard’s postseason success came from taking games off in the regular season, especially back to backs. While we know Jimmy doesn’t quite fit the persona to skip games for load management, it is clear that in order to avoid injury come playoff time, one must stay fresh and rested throughout the season. If Iguodala can retain the starting amount of production when Butler comes off the floor, Jimmy will be needed for fewer amounts of time per game, and he will thus be more prepared for the playoffs.
Last but not least, the presence of Iguodala will bring a championship mentality to the team and its players. Of the entire Miami roster, Udonis Haslem is the only player to have won a title in his career. Not only did Iguodala win the chip 3 times, but he was named the Finals MVP in 2015. Through his championship runs with the Warriors, he was a key role player who demonstrated high IQ by making the right decisions in crucial moments of the game. Having a guy with years of championship experience will give Miami and its players more knowledge in different assets of the game, specifically in the postseason. These elements can be seen through coaching, playcalling, defensive sets, or general mentality.
To summarize, Iguodala is an experienced role player who will retain production off the bench and give Miami the championship mentality they need to make it far. It will be a tough couple of matchups, but on paper, Miami outweighs Toronto, Philly, and Boston because of the completeness of their roster. After their trade, the Heat have a mixture of solid offense, tough defense, size, depth, and experience. And because of Miami’s success before the trade, the inclusion of Iguodala should establish them as undeniable contenders to compete for the Eastern Conference Finals, and ultimately, the 2020 championship.