DENVER - Say what you want about Andre Iguodala.

Most 76ers fans do.

"Overrated. Overpaid. Underskilled. Can't shoot. No position."

These labels trail Iguodala like a bad high-school rumor: He can't shake them.

Even after Friday night's last-second loss to the Denver Nuggets, even after he scored 24 points and had his team running as smoothly as a new Mercedes, Iguodala still had questions to answer.

And in his reply to the question he hears more than any other - "What's up with your outside shot?" - he sounded resigned. As if now, nothing he does can change the perception.

If you hear something enough, you might start to assume it's true.

So Iguodala responded, "It's off. . . . I know."

Maybe it's because Iguodala has started much of the season at shooting guard, even though he never has been a potent threat from outside. Because of the word "shooting" before guard, folks expect Iguodala to provide what other 2-guards across the NBA provide: an outside shot.

For the season, he is shooting 23.7 percent from the three-point line.

But that's not Iguodala's game. Even though he has spent summers shooting hundreds of outside shots a day, working on his release, it shouldn't be the way he is measured.

"I get a lot of repetitions up every summer," Iguodala said.

Sixers coach Tony DiLeo said Iguodala's shot has improved.

"He works hard, and it has gotten better," DiLeo said. "But that is not his strength; his strength is more creating for himself and for others. But that's an area he's been working on, and he'll continue to work on, and when he's open we expect him to shoot it.

"We're trying to get him better looks. A lot of times in the past . . . the shot clock's running down and he has to take a shot off balance with guys in his face. And that's a difficult shot for anyone, even the best."

"I don't think Andre has ever been a shooting guard," Nuggets coach George Karl said. "In basketball situations, he's best served with the basketball in his hands. The games I watch, Andre is making the vast majority of the decisions for the Sixers. I think he's great for the Sixers because he makes young guys play the right way."

Part of the frustration with Iguodala can be found in the numbers. After averaging 19.9 points a game last season, Iguodala started this season slow and now is averaging 15.2 a game.

But the most glaring number is the contract Iguodala signed in the off-season: $80 million over six years.

To whom much is given, much is expected. And perhaps more than Iguodala is capable of delivering.

"Is LeBron James a shooter?" Iguodala asked rhetorically. "You can ask that question, too.

"The thing with shooting is, it's all about confidence more than anything. Sometimes you can't make anything, sometimes you throw up the craziest shots and they go in.

"I don't think I have one thing - I think I can do everything," Iguodala continued. "I think I'm a basketball player. I don't think this team relies on me to be a shooter; I think this team relies on me to do everything."

DiLeo said Iguodala's value does not always translate to consumable numbers.

"He makes players better," the coach said. "He has a great instinct for passing the ball - seeing guys, creating and seeing open people. I think that one of his major assets is making people around him better."

Contact staff writer Kate Fagan at 856-779-3844

or kfagan@phillynews.com.