OAKLAND -- He’s shooting 42.9 percent from the field, the lowest among the Warriors. His 22.7-percent shooting beyond the arc also is last on the team. His free-throw percentage, 63.6, is second lowest.
As much he would like to find some rhythm and consistency for his shot, Andre Iguodala is smart enough to know why he can’t be aggressive in his search.
He’s sharing the court with at least two, sometimes three, of the best shooters in NBA history.
Stephen Curry, Kevin Durant and Klay Thompson have to get shots because their scoring represents the bricks upon which the Warriors’ offense is built. How does Iguodala, not a volume shooter by nature, get the in-game repetitions required to develop rhythm and gain confidence?
Iguodala takes one shot for every 5.4 minutes he’s on the court, the lowest attempt rate on the team. In his last 48 minutes, against Boston and Utah, he took three shots. Total. It’s hard to find your shot when you don’t have many opportunities to search -- or when you’re so exasperated that you become reluctant.
When the subject shooting repetitions, from the field or the free throw line, was addressed in a recent conversation, Iguodala nodded affirmatively.
“You have to just get a rhythm and confidence, too, because you know the ball is coming,” Iguodala said in a recent conversation with NBC Sports Bay Area. “You know you’re going to get to the line. Other times, you may not know. And then your head gets in your way. It’s just part of the game.”
Said teammate Omri Casspi, sitting nearby: “Ask anybody, man. The more you shoot, the better you shoot. Can’t get one free throw a game always expect to make it.”
When Iguodala isn’t sharing the court with Draymond Green, Curry, Durant and Thompson in the “Hamptons 5,” group, he’s with David West and Thompson as part of a second-unit group. Thompson is the primary scoring threat and West is having a fabulous season; his 60.2-percent field goal percentage is the best on the team.
Iguodala is at best, the third shooter. And just as his minutes vary, so do the circumstances. His role is to adjust his game to fit the needs of the team.
“The guys that can weather that best end up playing the longest and end up figuring it out,” Iguodala said. “Everybody is going to come to that time when they’re not going to be that particular guy. You’re going to have to come off the bench, or be the third or fourth option. Or you just quit. So (I) figure it out and try to weather it. Figure out how to make impact plays in other ways and staying ready.”
It’s accepted that Iguodala’s primary role is to agitate the offense and be a disruptor on defense. Pile up primary assists and secondary assists on one end, while using anticipation and active hands to take opposing offenses out of rhythm on the other.
His scoring is a bonus, and bonus scorers are low on the shot priority chain.
“Andre is such a big part of what we try to do, at both ends, that he’s valuable even if he’s not scoring,” Warriors coach Steve Kerr said.
But there is definite benefit to Iguodala making shots insofar as it forces opponents to guard him, which creates more room for the team’s sharpshooters. An offense can operate only so well if a defense can disregard one of the players, and teams are visibly playoff off Iguodala.
Is Iguodala, who turned 34 last Sunday, a victim of age and mileage? That may be a factor, along with the assorted physical issues he takes onto the court. There are moments when he looks five years younger, and moments when he looks five years older.
Maybe it’s time to put Igoudala on a scheduled maintenance program, on which he would be rested at designated intervals, a strategy the Cavaliers have used for LeBron James and the Spurs employed over Tim Duncan’s final five seasons.
“If it comes to that, we would,” Kerr said. “But we haven’t had to think of doing that this year. But we did that last year. It was more of a routine rest. I don’t know how many games he missed (six), but I don’t remember him missing a lot from injury. But this is how it’s going to be.”
To determine player availability, Kerr consults with Iguodala as well as Chelsea Lane, the sports physiotherapist that facilitates the team’s physical performance and sports medicine. If Lane advises Kerr that a player should not play, that player sits, as was the case with Iguodala on Jan. 20 at Houston.
Iguodala, who in July signed a three-year contract worth $48 million, is lukewarm on the idea of regular rest.
“You want to keep what rhythm you have,” he said. “So I’m in the gym a lot, staying late, getting extra shots and sometimes I’m coming early in the morning. You want to get game pace, with a decent rhythm with your shot, because if you lose that, your confidence can waver a little bit. And you don’t want that happening in key moments late in the season.”
That’s the course the Warriors are trying to navigate. That’s the big picture. They want Iguodala healthy and whole for the postseason, when the mental elements of the game become more crucial, therefore adding to his value.
“The great thing with Andre is he’s such a great basketball player, and so smart, that his last few years are still going to be productive based on his brain,” Kerr said. “Our job is to keep his body as fresh as possible.”
That’s a challenging job, nearly as difficult as the task facing Iguodala.
He has to keep searching for a part of his game that will become increasingly important. He has to continue his search despite rarely being in position to look. He’s trying to regain confidence without benefit of the conditions that best create it.
And he has to do it all while continuing to contribute in the ways his teammates have grown accustomed to expect.