Are the 76ers Winning Without a Superstar?
Andre Iguodala doesn’t think so.
by Tracy Weissenberg | @basketballista
The Sixers haven’t lost two games in a row this season. When forward Andre Iguodala was asked about the team’s resiliency, his answer revealed far more than his thoughts on the Sixers’ ability to bounce back.
“That says a lot about our team,” the eight-year NBA veteran said. “We don’t have a so-called superstar. I think we do, but you know, [critics] say we don’t have a so-called superstar—but we’re getting it done. And we’re finding a way to do it. Defensively we’re doing a really good job. I think that gets overlooked. A lot of people are talking about scorers—25-point scorer, 30-point scorer—there’s only five guys [scoring] over 20 in the league I think. We’re just finding ways to get it done and it’s been a lot of fun. We’ve been able to stay positive, that’s the biggest thing. You could get hit with that negative bug I think, sometimes. Every team could get hit with it every year—attitudes and this is not happening, that’s not happening—and that’s how losing streaks start. But we’ve been positive, everybody’s been upbeat and it’s helped us.”
I asked Iguodala to clarify that when he says he thinks the team has a superstar, he is referring to himself. “Definitely,” he replied. “Just my numbers alone, being a triple-double threat every single night. I just try to be a complete player and playing with some young guys, keeping them focused night in, night out, it’s a tough job but it’s a lot of fun because we’ve got some really good talent. I love Jrue Holiday. I love Lou Williams. Thaddeus Young is playing really well. Spencer’s playing really well. I think the oldest guy is like 24, 25 out of all those guys. It’s just a lot of fun leading these guys and continuing to win and surprising people.”
The Sixers, who started 3-13 last season, got off to an impressive start this year, although many attributed it to a favorable early schedule. The Sixers have recently notched impressive wins over the Bulls at home and the Hawks on the road, and are about to face a stretch of several Playoff-bound teams. Asked about the schedule, Iguodala said: “People just doubting us, especially people talking about if we should make the All-Star team because of our schedule, if we should have anybody make the All-Star team and it’s like we’ve just taken care of business. It’s not our fault who we’ve played, but we’ve done a good job taking care of business. And then we proved it this week playing against some top teams in the League and we’ve got W’s.”
Iguodala, who won a world championship with USA Basketball in 2010 and was named one of 20 finalists for the 2012 Olympic team, has never been an All-Star. Entering Monday, he is one of three players with at least 300 points, 100 assists, 100 rebounds and 40 steals this season. The other two happen to be point guards Russell Westbrook and Kyle Lowry.
I mentioned that after the Hawks game, the Sixers remained the League leader in points allowed at 86.5. That’s a pretty big defensive statement. Does he believe that gets overlooked? “I think it gets overlooked because teams with the scorers, per se, get a little bit more respect, especially with the whistle. We don’t get as many foul calls, we don’t have a guy who’s constantly at the line, but we got to continue to work at that. In that aspect, I think it does get overlooked.”
The 76ers rank 29th in free throw attempts per game with 19.0. The Denver Nuggets, who lead the League in scoring, rank first with 28.0. Lou Williams leads the Sixers with 4.3 free throw attempts per game, which ranks 36th in the League among qualified players.
Iguodala and the Sixers are hoping to continue gaining momentum in order to build off of last season’s first round Playoff exit. While the team has had a successful start to the season, in the NBA, it seems the more you win, the more you have to prove.