Andrew Wiggins has just cracked the top ten in All Star voting for the west and funnily enough, it’s not totally wrong.
The pointy end of the NBA season is here, and while this means a smorgasbord of first round matches to sink our teeth into, it also means the announcement of the various NBA Awards are upon us.
Jamal Crawford was announced as the sixth man of the year, a prize awarded to the best bench contributor as assessed by the voting NBA Media. This is in keeping with the tradition of the award going to a high-volume bench scorer.
Crawford’s stat line reads as follows:
He fits the bill, with 14.2 points per game, as the kind of guy who comes off the bench and makes shots. Crawford has certainly excelled at this his entire career, but has never been known for his efficiency – this continued with a pedestrian 40.4% shooting percentage.
Crawford is also an absolute turnstile on defence and doesn’t contribute in other areas of the game (as shown by his rebounds, assists, blocks and steals per game).
In the modern world of analytics and advanced stats, it’s time for the NBA media to look past the surface of a high scorer off the bench as the league’s best sixth man.
Enter Andre Iguodala. A versatile player, Iguodala was the Finals MVP last year for his superb blend of offence, defence and teamwork. A top-10 defensive player (he received votes for defensive player of the year) Iggy also has the capability to handle the ball and run the historically-great Golden State Warriors offence, which generates so many open looks for Steph Curry.
The problem? Iguodala only averages a shade over 7 points per game – not good if you want to be the sixth man of the year.
The answer? Iguodala’s team just went 73-9, they are other-worldly good, and he is an absolutely vital cog in allowing players in that team to play their roles to perfection. His wing defence and ball handling unlock the capabilities of the ‘death line-up’ (with Draymond Green at centre), while his shooting is sound enough to keep the floor spaced for Curry and Klay Thompson to get into the paint.
Virtually all of the advanced stats make a case for Iguodala:
– True shooting % 56.5 versus Crawford’s 52.9
– Rebounding % 8.2 versus 3.7
– Assist % 16.3 versus 14
– Win Shares 4.4 versus 3.3
– Block/Steal % 0.8/2 versus 0.4/1.2
This all comes from a usage rate that is less than half that of Crawford’s. And after all of this, the guy’s team had 73 wins for the year. It is a simply astonishing achievement in the modern NBA, and the play of Andre Iguodala goes a long way to allowing this team to be the unstoppable juggernaut that they are.
Come on, NBA media, it’s time to get out from behind points per game and look at the big picture of what actually makes a player a key contributor to a team being great.