Andre Iguodala Cements His All Star Spot

It can be tough for defensive-minded players to get accolades, especially if they aren’t accumulating blocks and steals at a league leading pace.  However, Andre Iguodala has gained some All-Star momentum this season on the strength of his defensive play.  This year, any small forward going against Iguodala has turned into Devin Ebanks.  By shutting down Kobe Bryant in crunch time on Monday night, Iguodala strengthened his All Star candidacy with a signature moment.  Let’s take a look at three minutes of hell for Kobe Bryant…

In the first sequence, we see Iguodala’s isolation defense put to work.  Surprisingly, Iguodala isn’t an elite isolation defender, giving up 0.86 points per isolation possession according to Synergy Sports.  Iguodala initially fights over Pau Gasol’s screen to remain attached to Kobe. After getting the ball, Kobe isn’t quick enough to get his shoulders past Iguodala, and he is forced to settle for a well-contested fadeaway jumper.  Iguodala stays attached to Kobe after the offensive rebound, and the Lakers try to force the ball back to Kobe.  Iguodala’s ball denial leads to an offensive foul when Kobe pushes off to gain possession.

The next time down the floor, Iguodala again fights over an off the ball screen to stick to Kobe.  Here we see Iguodala’s pick and roll defense on display.  Iguodala’s pick and roll defense has been excellent this year; he ranks as the 20th best pick and roll defender in the league by points per possession.  Kobe chooses to go away from the screen, but again isn’t quick enough to beat Iguodala.  Another contested fadeaway, another miss.

The Lakers change things up by getting Iguodala away from Kobe.  Derek Fisher sets the screen and forces a switch as Jrue Holliday ends up guarding Kobe. One might expect a dribble drive and pullup jumper here, as Kobe would no longer have to deal with Iguodala’s wingspan.  Instead, he settles for a three from the Wells Fargo logo.

On this play, Iguodala finds himself in the post.  Kobe is among the best post players in the league, averaging 0.92 points per post-up possession.  However, Iguodala’s post defense is elite, giving up only 0.52 points per post-up possession, and Iguodala completely stifles Kobe’s attempt here.  Iguodala nearly creates a jump ball and/or travel on the ground before contesting Kobe’s shot in the air.  Great anticipation and quick leaping ability.

Kobe’s only made basket of the quarter came on a broken play.  The Lakers again run a Fisher down screen on Iguodala, perhaps hoping for another switch.  Lou Williams stays on Kobe for a beat, ignoring Fisher, while Iguodala recovers.  Iguodala then plays great off-ball defense, denying the pass with his off-hand.  It’s the kind of “ball-you-man” defense that you learn as a kid.  However, Iguodala comes up short, and Kobe creates something out of nothing to get the bucket.

Again we see Kobe in the post as Iguodala shows off his elite post defense.  Kobe tries to drive into the lane, but yet again can’t get his body past Iguodala who is playing sound positional defense.  Kobe settles for a fadeaway/runner that is contested by three Sixers.

Andre Iguodala put on a defensive clinic, which is something he’s been doing all year.  But doing it against Kobe Bryant in the clutch brings the kind of attention that results in All Star berths and All-Defensive teams.


One response to “Andre Iguodala Cements His All Star Spot

  1. Pingback: The Point Forward » Posts Court Vision: Latest news in the NBA «

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