A lighter, more fit Iguodala looks forward to a better season
The best things about 76ers forward Andre Iguodala are the things he's without. Gone are 10 pounds from last season's body. The achy knees that bothered him last season? They, too, are fine.
This is the second part of the Inquirer's on-going Sixers' season preview.
The best things about 76ers forward Andre Iguodala are the things he's without.
Gone are 10 pounds from last season's body. The achy knees that bothered him last season? They, too, are fine.
Coach Doug Collins has been particularly effusive about what he's seen from Iguodala from the beginning of training camp, saying multiple times that Iguodala has been the most impressive player in camp.
Even after going scoreless on 0-for-6 shooting in a 103-78 preseason romp over Washington, Collins continued to pile on the praise.
"The one thing about it is, Dre has really come back ready for a great season," Collins said. "I think he wants to have a great, great year. I love his voice and what he's saying. I think he's doing a great job out on the floor leading. And on every night he's going to guard the other team's best perimeter player."
Said team president Rod Thorn about the second-team all-defensive forward: "He's a terrific player, and I think he's ready for a great season. I'm very excited about how he's come back."
This is in stark contrast to where things ended last season.
Iguodala, who came within a shade of averaging 20 points per game (19.9) in the 2007-08 season, saw his scoring average fall for the third consecutive season (14.1 in 2010-11). And while he had a nice showing against the Heat in Game 5 (finishing with 22 points on 10-of-14 shooting and 10 rebounds), it was the 8.8 points he averaged and the 31.5 percent he shot from the field in the previous four games that had the vast majority of Sixers fans wanting him shipped out of town.
Like another Illinois-born star athlete, former Eagles quarterback Donovan McNabb, Philadelphia has been lukewarm toward Iguodala. And if the fan base wants him moved - easier said than done when a player is still owed $44 million over the next three seasons - Iguodala understands the sentiment.
"The fans really want their team to be successful," said the 6-foot-6 ninth overall pick in the 2004 draft. "I think it's important for me to keep that in the back of my mind instead of looking at it as someone attacking me.
"You can look at it a lot of different ways," he continued. "I feel like I'm a special player in this league, and a lot of teams want my services. It's not like I'm not wanted. I think there are a lot of teams that do want me."
In a Philly.com poll last spring, 70 percent of the respondents wanted Iguodala moved. He believes, however, that management wants him here.
"I hear that a lot, and if they wanted to trade me they could," Iguodala said. "But I think they understand my value, and that's why they haven't."
Generally regarded as the team's best all-around player, Iguodala has struggled with his offense in the lockout-shortened preseason, averaging just 6.5 points and making only 4 of 16 field goals in two games.
As he dressed following the team's victory over Washington earlier this week, Iguodala spoke much more temperately about the upcoming season than did his bosses.
"I'm not where I want to be, but I'm trying to get there," said Iguodala, who appeared in a career-low 67 games last season. "Physically, I'm fine. I can play all day. But I'm just trying to find my rhythm offensively and play the right way at the same time. I'm trying to be selfish because my team needs me to do that, but I'm also trying to be the ultimate team guy like I have been, which has been overlooked. I'm just trying to figure it all out."