Here is my Thursday column on Andre Iguodala and Bob Myers.
OAKLAND – Thursday afternoon in the Warriors’ practice facility, Bob Myers, the best general manager in the Bay Area, introduced his signature acquisition – Andre Iguodala.
Myers and Iguodala wore suits and ties and they smiled. Iguodala wore a blue vest and gray socks that matched his gray shirt. He was smart and thoughtful and funny and eloquent and mature. He was presidential. He answered questions for an hour with Myers. Their press conference felt like a town-hall meeting.
Myers campaigned for Iguodala: “He is the missing piece of the puzzle for this team. We’ve got a lot of players who can shoot the ball, catch the ball, two or three-dribble guys, but [Iguodala] can finish at the rim – he’s second only to LeBron James as far as finishing-around-the-basket percentage – and he’s a high-assist guy for a wing player. We’re going to play him at the backup point. He’s going to have room to create because of the space our shooters create. Defensively, he’s arguably one of the best 10 defenders in the NBA.”
Iguodala campaigned for his teammates: “Steph Curry is like the second coming of Jesus Christ. Klay Thompson, from guarding him, I know how lethally he can shoot the ball and spread the floor. The two smartest bigs in the league are David Lee and Andrew Bogut. And then Harrison Barnes, he’s going to be a great talent in this league for 10-plus years.”
And finally, Iguodala campaigned for himself: “My game kind of fits my personality. I kind of have a dry humor. One of my favorite shows is ‘Curb Your Enthusiasm.’ I like shows that sneak up on you with the humor. Same thing with my game. It may not show up on the stat sheet, but if you watch the game you’ll see my impact. Distributing to our great shooters, I should have a lot of 12-11-11 nights (points, rebounds and assists). And I can play defense in my sleep. We’re going to get stops in the last five minutes of games when it’s most important.”
He has my vote.
Trading for Iguodala is one of the best trades the Warriors have made in decades. With him, the Warriors can compete with any team in the Western Conference.
Iguodala essentially will replace Jarrett Jack as the Warriors’ point guard during crunch time. Mark Jackson wisely moves Curry, the starting point guard, to shooting guard when the game is on the line. Curry is careless with the ball – he turned it over 3.3 times per game in the playoffs – and he’s a better shooter than playmaker. So Jackson trusted Jack to handle the ball during important possessions.
But Jack turned over the ball 3.2 times per game in the playoffs. He was just as careless as Curry.
Iguodala turned the ball over 2.8 times per game in the playoffs. He’s a more responsible ball-handler than Curry and Jack.
But Iguodala’s biggest impact for the Warriors will be on defense.
He played for the 76ers two seasons ago, and that season the 76ers had the third-best defense in the NBA. Then they traded Iguodala to the Nuggets and their defense fell to 15th. On the other hand, the Nuggets’ defense improved from 20th to 11th after they got Iguodala.
The Nuggets also won 57 games last season, 21 more than they won the season before they got Iguodala. The Warriors won 47 games last season. With Iguodala, they conceivably could win 60 next season.
If Iguodala had been Myers’ only acquisition this offfseason, Myers wouldn’t be the best G.M. in the Bay Area.
Here’s why Myers’ is the best:
1. He didn’t sentimentally overpay Jack and Carl Landry – two role players.
2. He didn’t trade any of his core players for Iguodala.
3. Instead of signing Iguodala outright, Myers got him in a complex three-team sign-and-trade, which allowed Myers to sign other players to fill the rest of the holes on the Warriors’ roster.
4. Myers bought a draft pick and then traded down three times to get back most of the money he spent on the draft pick, an innovative and shrewd move.
None of the other Bay Area G.M.s can top that. Trent Baalke left glaring holes in his defensive backfield this offseason. Brian Sabean routinely has overpaid to re-sign role players like Aubrey Huff and Pat Burrell and Hunter Pence. Sabean probably would have re-signed Jack and Landry if he were in charge of the Warriors. Billy Beane might have traded Curry for two prospects.
Myers has his own style.
Beane is Hollywood. Beane is slick. Beane is charming. He was portrayed in a movie by Brad Pitt.
Sabean is unknowable. You could imagine him calling another G.M. to make him an offer he couldn’t refuse. If someone were to play Sabean in a movie, it would be Robert DeNiro.
Myers is like Owen Wilson selling lemonade. He has an earnest, innocent, gosh-golly-gee attitude. He’ll talk your ear off about how excited he is about his new lemons and how they’re going to mix together to make juice, but he wants no credit or praise.
“We haven’t done anything,” he said on Thursday, “All we did is sign one guy. I’m just happy that I think the team got better.”
Gosh golly gee.
Grant Cohn writes two sports columns per week for the Press Democrat’s website. He also writes the “Inside the 49ers” blog. Follow him on Twitter @grantcohn.