Top 50 NBA Players: #31-30 David Lee and Andre Iguodala

David Lee
Resume: 18.5 points, 11.2 rebounds (5th in league), 3.5 assists, 36.8 minutes, 56 double-doubles (1st in league), 52% FG, and 80% FT… Team record in games played: 46-33 (1-2 without)… Playoffs: 5.0 points, 4.7 rebounds, 10.8 minutes, 39% FG, 67% FT, 2-4 record (4-2 without)… All-Star, 12th in MVP Voting, 3rd Team All-NBA

Andre Iguodala
Resume: 13.0 points, 5.3 rebounds, 5.4 assists, 1.7 steals, 34.7 minutes, 45% FG, and 57% FT… Team record in games played: 57-23 (0-2 without)… Playoffs: 18.0 points, 8.0 rebounds (career best), 5.3 assists, 2.0 steals, 40.5 minutes, 50% FG (career best), 48% 3PT (career best), 72% FT, 2-4 record

Allow me to state the obvious really quickly before I dive into this section: The Golden State Warriors could be very, very good this season. Fifty plus wins good… NBA Title good. This of course depends on catching a few lucky breaks along the way, most importantly the ankles of star point guard Stephen Curry NOT breaking, rolling, spraining, straining or twisting. Pending all health concerns, we’re looking at a young team that may be primed to make a 2012 Oklahoma City Thunder like run to the NBA Finals. Remember, the Dubs overachieved in the postseason thanks to a raucous home crowd and budding superstar, and gave the eventual Western Conference champions a competitive series before greater talent and veteran guile prevailed. Sounds a little bit like the 2012 Thunder, doesn’t it? Now, with a year of postseason experience under their collective belt, it would be natural to expect to see a maturing team get better. The question is, how much better can they get in one year? It’s hard to figure out how high the ceiling might be for Golden State for multiple reasons, but for right now let’s focus on the two that don’t involve me gushing about Stephen Curry (That will come in about three weeks).

1: David Lee played only 29 healthy playoff minutes last season thanks to a complete tear of his right hip flexor, an unexpected and likely painful development that inadvertently allowed Golden State to tap into a small ball style of play that could very easily have been the catalyst of their extended playoff run. More on this in a quick minute.

May 2, 2013; Oakland, CA, USA; Denver Nuggets shooting guard Andre Iguodala (9) congratulates Golden State Warriors point guard Stephen Curry (30) game six of the first round of the 2013 NBA Playoffs at Oracle Arena. The Warriors defeated the Nuggets 92-88. Mandatory Credit: Kyle Terada-USA TODAY Sports

2: Over the summer the Warriors managed to make some cap savvy maneuvers that allowed for the signing of Andre Iguodala, a premier perimeter player that could certainly transform a franchise from fringe to legitimate title contenders given it is the right fit. In this particular instance, Iguodala and Golden State seemingly go together like peas and carrots (In case you hadn’t noticed, I have made references to Ocean’s Eleven, The Dark Knight, the James Bond series, Beverly Hills Cop, The Replacements, The Spectacular Now, The Great Gatsby, Major League, Slumdog Millionaire and now Forrest Gump in this countdown… We’re only twenty players in, there are plenty more to come). Take a look at the three things that by my account Iguodala does most effectively, and how that impacts the Warriors, and then try to tell me this isn’t a Forrest and Jenny fit.

-Iggy is among the most efficient scorers in the paint in the entire league—Grantland’s Kirk Goldsberry shows that Iggy is an average or below average shooter from everywhere else on the floor, but connects on 67.8% of his shots in the paint, narrowly trailing LeBron’s 72.1% as the best in the league—which not only benefits Iguodala’s box score, but also his teammates.

-Iguodala has experience facilitating an offense, and will see time doing so as a Warrior. The big reason why I wasn’t overly concerned about the loss of Jarrett Jack was because Iguodala can do everything the Warriors wanted Jack to do in his time relieving Curry as the architect of the Dubs offense. Iguodala is plenty capable of creating for himself and teammates and given how impressively Iguodala gets into the paint and scores, defenses will need to account for this. Do you know what that means? Open three’s for the Splash Brothers, and that is awfully exciting.

-Maybe the most important aspect to Iguodala’s game and his arrival in the Bay Area is his ability to defend three positions effectively. Coming to a middle of the road defensive team, Iguodala’s arrival should provide a boost and hide some shortcomings they had last year, one being their power forward. And now we’ve come full circle and once again arrived at David Lee, a talented offensive player, all-star (a dubious selection considering Stephen Curry was snubbed) and double-double machine whose only noticeable deficiencies are that he plays tragically uninspired defense and that his injury coincided with the Warriors third 2nd round postseason appearance since 1991. Are the Warriors better off without Lee? I don’t have that answer, and it’s something we’ll likely never know. With Iguodala in the picture Lee’s defensive inadequacies won’t be as blatant and the Warriors are a completely different team than they were five months ago. As a pseudo Warriors fan and longtime Stephen Curry fan, I hope they both bring out the best in each other… and Curry.