Andre Iguodala (David Zalubowski/AP)
Andre Iguodala hasn't made a lot of noise on the national level this season, but he is quietly bringing the Philadelphia 76ers into playoff contention in the Eastern Conference.
Philadelphia had a stretch in which they won just two of 13 games a little over a month ago, and they were left for dead, but Iguodala has helped revive the 76ers, who have won nine out of their last eleven.
Although Iguodala isn't spectacular at any specific aspect of the game, few players are as well rounded as him. Standing at 6'6, 205 lbs, he is an ideal shooting guard in terms of size, and he also poses excellent athleticism, quickness, and energy.
This combination of talent and desire enabled Iguodala to average an extremely well-balanced stat line on the season, as he is putting up 19.4 points, 5.6 rebounds, 4.6 assists, two steals and a little under a block.
On offense, Philadelphia's new "A.I" regularly displays the ability to take the ball to the rack and finish plays off in spectacular fashion. His quickness allows him to blow by defenders and he has amazing elevation, which makes it easy for him to rise above the rim with regularity. While he doesn't have a pure jump-shot, Iguodala can keep defenses honest by knocking down enough outside jump-shots and three pointers when open.
Because of his speed and explosiveness, defenses collapse on him and Iguodala has learned over the past several seasons how to distribute the ball into the right hands, a rarity for most young shooting guards. His 4.6 assists per game are down from last year's total (5.7) but he still displays the wherewithal to pass out of trouble and find the open man.
What sets Iguodala apart from other young players is the attention he pays to the defensive side of his game. Averaging over two steals per contest, Iguodala brings passion and energy on D and combines it with a high defensive I.Q. His ability to put himself in the right position to pick off passes makes him a constant threat to opponents, and with solid man-to-man defense, Iguodala is highly regarded amongst the NBA community as one of the better defenders in the league.
The one negative aspect about Iguodala has been in his inability to replace the original A.I, Allen Iverson. Iverson was a dynamic offensive player for the 76ers and was always amongst the league leaders in points, and since he was traded, Iguodala hasn't been able to fill the void. Iguodala has a decent offensive game, but he pales in comparison to Iverson in that category and for a player demanding the salary of an elite player, he doesn't have the constant explosiveness on offense to be a legit franchise leader.
Iguodala can score, but he is streaky and can be taken out of rhythm if the pace of the game is off. He's scored as many as 33 points in a game this season, but has also been held to five points in a contest, even though he played for 40 minutes. Lacking a consistently great offensive game has kept the 24 year-old guard from becoming one of the game's best, but his ability to do it all still makes him a very dangerous player. During the 76ers' hot-streak, A.I has displayed his well-balanced game, and because of it, Philadelphia is starting to play as an effective and cohesive unit. If the 76ers are able to dictate the tempo and get Orlando out of its rhythm, Iguodala just might fill up his stat sheet with steals, assist, rebounds and points; that's not out of the ordinary for this upcoming star.