Wednesday, August 13, 2008

Inky Iggy Do

A quick note about the Sixers locking up swingman Andre Iguodala before someone else says it out loud... yes, by all means, it's too much money for a guy who should be the third-best player on a championship team and I almost fell asleep typing that.

Now, quick question time... who was the best player on the 2004 Pistons championship team? Your starters were Rasheed and Ben Wallace, Prince, Hamilton and Billups. Let's say, for argument's sake, that it's Hamilton (and that Iggy is better than Andre Miller and Sam Dalembert, and worse than new guy Elton Brand).

So, is Iggy better than Rip?

AI, age 23 -- 19.9 ppg on 45.6% from the floor, 72.1% from the line. 5.4 boards, 4.8 assists, 2.1 steals, 0.6 blocks per game. 32.9% from 3-point range, playing 39 minutes a game.

Rip, age 23 (with Washington) -- 20.0 ppg on 43.5% from the floor, 89% from the line. 3.4 boards, 2.7 assists, 0.6 steals, 0.2 blocks per game. 38.1% from 3-point range, playing 35 minutes a game.

Well, maybe yes, maybe no -- they are dramatically different players, and Rip's real value is undercut by the fact that high percentage scorers always look like empty calories. Besides, steals can be a misleading defensive statistic, since they frequently come from bad positional defense. But it seems to be that Iggy is well within the Rip range at this point in his career.

So, given his age, durability (he's missed six games in four years), the fact that he's never gotten in trouble with the law or his coach, and is three flaws away (handle, three point shot, free throw percentage) from being a plus player in every aspect of the game... well, isn't that worth the risk?

If the Sixers are going to become a traditional championship team, they need Thaddeus Young or Lou Williams to become one of the ten best players in the Association. If they are going to become a simply tolerable team, the kind that's always in the second round of the playoffs with a puncher's chance at sneaking a title in a year when other teams have injuries, they needed to sign Iguodala to this contract.

So, um, they did.

That doesn't make them stupid, clueless, short-sighted or limited. It just makes them what they are -- a franchise without a true superstar, but with a more than reasonable chance at playing good basketball for many years to come.

Considering what Sixers Fans have had to watch for most of my adult life (i.e., terrible basketball interrupted by one great player against the world acts in Barkley and Iverson), we'll take it. Gladly.

Oh, and we'll take his ability to do this, too.

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