Monday , Mar , 28 , 2005 C.Y. Ellis

Points in the Paint

By Warren Blatt, Sports Network NBA Editor

Philadelphia, PA (Sports Network) – In case you haven’t noticed,
Philadelphia’s Andre Iguodala is having an excellent all-around rookie season.

The 20-year-old Iguodala had to impress everyone who was in attendance on
Sunday at the Staples Center, as the 76ers defeated the Los Angeles Lakers,
96-89, to improve to 35-34 and put them in a tie with the Indiana Pacers for
seventh place in the Eastern Conference. He played 40 minutes and
finished with 18 points, nine rebounds, two assists, three steals and two
blocked shots.

Not only did Iguodala, who can play shooting guard or small forward, have
solid numbers in the box score, he made sure the fans got their money’s worth.
The 6-6 swingman put down three thunderous dunks that had all in attendance at
the Staples Center watching in awe. Two of his highlight-reel slams were off
alley-oop passes from All-Star Allen Iverson, who finished with 20 points and
15 assists in the victory over the Lakers.

Anyone who was not familiar with Iguodala, who also shot an impressive 8-of-13
from the field in Sunday’s victory, and saw his performance against the Lakers
had to wonder, who is this guy?

Selected by the 76ers in the first round (9th overall) of the 2004 NBA Draft
after his sophomore season at Arizona, Iguodala has started all 69 of
Philadelphia’s games this season. He has proven to be a solid defensive player
who is effective in either a halfcourt game or an up-tempo style.

The high-flying Iguodala, who recorded the first triple-double of his career
during Philadelphia’s 107-84 win over the defending world champion Detroit
Pistons on March 23rd at the Wachovia Center, has scored in double-digits in
26 of the 76ers’ games this season. He has registered three double-doubles and
has played 30 minutes or more in 44 contests.

He does not put up big numbers on the stat sheet every game, as he is
averaging 8.9 points, 5.6 rebounds, three assists and 1.68 steals. However,
his real contribution comes from the energy he gives Philadelphia on
both ends of the court. There is one other major factor that cannot be
overlooked, the Arizona product defends the other team’s best scorer each and
every night.

Philadelphia’s head coach Jim O’Brien is able to utilize Iguodala, who starts
in the backcourt with Iverson, in many different lineups. O’Brien can cause
matchup problems for the opposition because of the all-around abilities of the
first year pro. Even though he is only 6-6, Iguodala is not afraid to play
down low and challenge the monsters of the NBA, and he is quick enough and has
the range to take his game outside which forces the Sixers’ opponents to have
to stretch the defense.

With Iverson playing point guard for the 76ers, the team is playing a fast-
paced style that allows the first-year phenom to shine in the open court. Even
though he can flourish in any kind of game, the former Wildcat excels in
transition. His athleticism allows him to get out on the break and help
Philadelphia rack up a lot of easy points.

His long arms, quick feet and all-around ability make Iguodala a very tough
opponent for some of the league’s best scorers. He is quick enough to defend
around the perimeter and has the strength to allow him to hold his own down
low.

O’Brien has shown a lot of confidence in Iguodala, who is averaging just over
32 minutes of court time per game, by playing him big minutes in his first
year in the league. Philadelphia’s general has allowed the versatile rookie to
learn on the court rather than from the bench, which has made the 76ers a
better team.

Iguodala makes the Sixers better defensively, more efficient on offense and an
exciting team to watch. The future is very bright for the athletic Sixer, who
is definitely a rising star in the NBA.