Two months ago I wrote a post titled 'Andre Iguodala is the Best Perimeter Defender in the NBA', prompted by the annual NBA GM survey, in which Iguodala failed to receive one vote as the league's best perimeter defender.
I stand by that statement, but wouldn't argue if you countered with LeBron James – who I think it the best defensive player and overall player, period. But the bottom line is, Andre Iguodala should be considered at least a top 3 perimeter defender, regardless of who you ask.
Defense remains hard to quantify in the NBA and advanced stats, in general, should always be taken with a grain of salt. Variables such as the varying difficulty between individual match-ups, coaching systems, different lineups and different teammates make it difficult to compare players using advanced stats, especially on defense.
Like anyone who watches the Sixers and Andre Iguodala on a consistent basis, I know Andre Iguodala is a great defender. I don't need stats to tell me that. But it's always fun when stats reinforce what your eyes have been telling you.
Early Monday morning one of my favorite basketball writers on ESPN tweeted this:
Imperfect stat, but Iggy holds lineup opponent to NBA-low 6.9 PER. Battier/LeBron round out top-3. bit.ly/y6Cgmy— Tom Haberstroh (@tomhaberstroh) March 12, 2012
The average PER in the NBA is 15.0; opposing small forwards have a PER of 5.9 against Iguodala this season, which is absurdly good.
As Haberstroh pointed out, the stat is imperfect, like any defensive metric, and you may scoff when you see Jodie Meeks so high on the leader board, holding opponents to a PER of 9.8, but it's easily explainable.
When Jodie Meeks was sandwiched between Jrue Holiday and Andre Iguodala in the starting lineup, he drew the easiest defensive assignment on a nightly basis. For example, when the Sixers played the Bulls, Jrue guarded Rose (25.0 PER) and Iguodala defended Deng (15.0). Meanwhile, Meeks checked Rip, who's PER is 12.1 on the season. Obviously, holding a player of Rose's quality (25 PER) to a 15 PER is more impressive than holding Rip (12 PER) to a PER of 9. And that's just one example.
Even though the average PER is 15 in the NBA, the guys Iguodala defends night in, night out probably average a PER near 20, which makes his league leading PER-against wildly impressive.
Haberstroh followed up his original tweet with this:
Cross-matching qualifiers apply with these guys, but if you're looking for DPOY support for Iggy and LeBron, that's something.— Tom Haberstroh (@tomhaberstroh) March 12, 2012
If Iguodala can't even garner a vote from 30 GMs as 'best perimeter defender' I doubt he has any chance to win Defensive Player of the Year, but he clearly deserves consideration.