Stephen Curry and the Golden State Warriors hope to become championship contenders again during the 2021-22 NBA season. They have an excellent opportunity to do so, too, with Klay Thompson coming back and star rookies Jonathan Kuminga and Moses Moody joining the team.
However, they are also welcoming back an old friend who helped them win their three titles during their five years of dominance.
That old friend is Andre Iguodala.
Andre Iguodala helped Stephen Curry and the Warriors win three titles
After spending eight seasons with the Philadelphia 76ers and one with the Denver Nuggets, Andre Iguodala teamed up with Stephen Curry and the Warriors in 2013-14.
The next year in 2014-15, Iguodala helped Golden State become one of the best teams in the NBA and was ultimately a valuable player off the bench. He was fourth on the team in defensive box plus-minus, which estimates the defensive points (above a league-average player) that someone contributes per 100 possessions. He also averaged 7.8 points and 1.2 steals.
However, in the NBA Finals that year, Iguodala was arguably Golden State’s best player. He posted 16.3 points, 5.8 rebounds, and 4.0 assists per game while also playing elite defense on LeBron James. The Warriors won the series 4-2 over the Cleveland Cavaliers and he won Finals MVP.
Throughout the next four seasons, Iguodala then continued giving the Warriors solid minutes, helping them make the finals five years in a row overall and win three titles.
After Golden State fell in the 2019 NBA Finals due to Kevin Durant and Klay Thompson injuries, though, Durant went to the Brooklyn Nets while Thompson sat out the entire next season. The Warriors then traded Iguodala to the Memphis Grizzlies and Memphis traded him to the Miami Heat.
Iguodala played with Miami the last two seasons and appeared in his sixth straight finals in 2020. But the Heat declined the team option on Iguodala’s contract this offseason, which made him a free agent.
Andre Iguodala plans to sign with Golden State
With Iguodala being a free agent, he now reportedly plans to return to the Warriors as the two sides have agreed to a deal, according to ESPN.
“Who would have thought I’d have the opportunity to go back to the place where I was able to have, whatever you want to call it, legacy years, in terms of the accomplishments, winning multiple championships, the relationships that I was able to build with some of my closest friends and teammates?” Iguodala said to The New York Times, per ESPN.
He continued: “The relationship with the fans, the relationship with the Bay, the opportunity to end it (his career) here, was just something special.”
Iguodala won’t be the difference in the Warriors going on a finals run or losing early in the playoffs. He only averaged 4.4 points for Miami last season. But the two-time All-Defensive team honoree will still bring significant leadership to his former squad and a great defensive presence off the bench.
Iguodala could ultimately become an underrated addition for the Warriors.
Can Stephen Curry and the Warriors contend for a title in 2021-22?
Stephen Curry was one of the best players in the league last season for the Warriors, as he led the NBA in scoring with 32.0 points per game. Golden State, though, didn’t have Klay Thomson for the second straight year due to another injury, so they lost in the play-in tournament and failed to go on a postseason run.
However, in 2021-22, they will not only have Curry, who recently signed a new four-year extension, Iguodala, and 2016-17 Defensive Player of the Year Draymond Green, but Thompson should also be back on the floor. They will also have Andrew Wiggins, the 2020 No. 2 overall pick James Wiseman — who has a chance to take a big step in 2021 — and their two top-14 2021 draft picks, Jonathan Kuminga and Moses Moody.
Curry, Green, and Thompson alone make Golden State a playoff contender. But if Wiseman can develop into the dominant big many people expect him to be, and Kuminga and Moody can just contribute in any way at all, the Warriors should certainly have enough talent to become one of the top teams in the Western Conference.
Golden State has a chance to accomplish a lot in 2021-22, and Iguodala will be there for it yet again.
Stats courtesy of Basketball Reference