When the Golden State Warriors got the okay from Kevin Durant and were forced to throw salary overboard in order to land their whale, they had to make some decisions. Who do they retain, and who becomes expendable on a Durant-infused Warriors squad?
They ended up parting with Harrison Barnes, Leandro Barbosa, Brandon Rush and Marreese Speights. Those were easy cap casualties. They also parted with both Andrew Bogut and Festus Ezeli, creating a gigantic hole at center.
The Warriors could have traded Andre Iguodala in order to keep one of their rim protectors. With so many capable perimeter players, it could have been a defensible decision. Instead, the Warriors doubled down on the small-ball approach they helped make so popular in today’s NBA.
For what the Warriors want to do, a player like Iguodala — a lockdown perimeter defender, willing passer and off-ball cutter and capable shooter who can take whatever shape his team needs — is indispensable. He willingly comes off the bench, unlocking lineups for the Warriors that have torched the league for two seasons. That was the team Durant decided to join, and so the Warriors sacrificed some of their bigs for Iguodala and the versatility he provides.
The Warriors replaced Bogut and Ezeli with Zaza Pachulia who, while not as good, is a replacement-level player they can live with. Golden State knows players like Iguodala don’t grow on trees. With NBA teams trying to mimic what the Warriors are doing, those kinds of players will be in high demand.
So who are the next Andre Iguodalas? Let’s take a look at some of the NBA’s current prospects.
Oladipo is going from a situation in Orlando — where he was asked to be a facilitator and No. 1 scoring option — to the Thunder, where he may not even be one of the team’s top three scoring options. He can score, topping out at nearly 18 points per game in his second NBA season, but the Thunder won’t need him to do that.
Instead he’ll be asked to do what he does best: defend perimeter players at a high level. Beyond that, Oladipo will be able to pick his spots on offense, cutting off the ball and taking open jumpers created by his All-NBA point guard.
As a shooter, Oladipo has made progress every season and made 35 percent of his three-pointers since last season’s All-Star break. He’s respectable from distance, which is all you need to be an Iggy (Iguodala has hovered around 35 percent shooting from deep ever since he joined the Warriors).
He’ll give the Thunder another drive-and-kick option that, with Russell Westbrook leading the offense, will be a key cog in the offense:
Running the fastbreak for easy baskets will be Oklahoma City’s bread and butter:
And finding space on the weak-side to give Westbrook an outlet will be another way Oladipo can find steady points:
Oladipo can play anywhere between the 1 and 3, which should help the Thunder go small. A lineup with Westbrook, Cameron Payne, Oladipo, Ersan Ilyasova and Steven Adams has just enough shooting and just enough defensive versatility to develop into something interesting for Oklahoma City.
If the Thunder can find one more bona fide two-way player in the wake of Durant’s departure, they can really unlock Oladipo’s Iggy-ness.
Turner gets a bad rap by some NBA types, but his last season in Boston offered a sample of what Turner’s future in Portland could look like.
There is a common theme here: Like Iguodala and Oladipo, Turner was asked to perhaps do too much in his previous stops in Philadelphia and Indiana. Turner came off the bench for the Celtics the last two seasons and his main contribution was being an additional ball handler and facilitator. His assist percentage leaped from the high teens in his first four seasons to 27 percent in his two years in Boston while his usage rate was down to a career low.
They used him less, and Turner was able to pick his spots. His true shooting percentage reached a career high 51.3 percent last season. By not having to carry the load on offense, Turner was able to take his defense to the next level, and he finished with a positive Defensive Box Plus-Minus in each of his seasons in Boston.
Turner showed out as an efficient offensive player and plus defender. His size, 6-foot-7 and 220 pounds, allows him to play multiple positions like Iguodala, and should help his Portland Trail Blazers unlock some interesting lineups.
Portland struggled when it didn’t have another ball handler on the court outside of Lillard and McCollum, and Turner will help the ball keep moving and could be the kindle this offense needs to keep a consistent burn:
He also has a nice mid-range game that should provide some depth to this offense:
He’ll be playing alongside a superstar in Damian Lillard and a potential All-Star in C.J. McCollum on a team that will utilize space to take another leap in the Western Conference. Turner is going to be a big part of that.
While both Oladipo and Turner have a few years of experience in the NBA, Normal Powell is coming off his rookie season after being picked in the second round in the 2015 draft. His per game stats were modest — 5.6 points, 2.3 rebounds and an assist in 14.8 minutes per game — but that was enough to show that Powell has a future in this league.
In the playoffs, the Toronto Raptors used Powell as a swingman, playing both shooting guard and small forward. Having to guard guys like Paul George, Monta Ellis, Dwyane Wade, Joe Johnson, J.R. Smith and LeBron James one-on-one at various points throughout the playoffs, Powell held his own, finishing the postseason with a Defensive Box Plus-Minus of 1.5:
He still has work to do as a scorer, but did shoot above the league average from the corners — a very important part of the floor in today’s pace-and-space game.
Powell didn’t get many chances to facilitate, but he has a good feel for running the pick-and-roll, showing patience and touch getting the ball to his roll man. The Raptors should be able to utilize this more in certain lineups and give Lowry and DeRozan more time off the ball:
At 6-foot-4, 215 pounds, Powell has a strong frame and the positional versatility that will allow the Raptors to utilize him off the bench and trigger new lineups. A lineup of Kyle Lowry, DeMar DeRozan, Powell, DeMarre Carroll (sliding over to the 4) and Patrick Patterson could be used in small doses to space the floor and change the pace.
The Warriors have been the taste-makers of the NBA. Teams want to load up on three-point shooters, play fast and find power forwards who can both space the floor and protect the rim. Without Iguodala, however, a lot of what the Warriors do isn’t possible. That’s why they wouldn’t part with him even with Durant on board, and that’s why teams around the NBA are searching for their own Iguodala. These guys are a good start.