Andre Iguodala has been working behind the scenes to get back on the floor for Year 19 of his NBA career.
The Warriors are taking a cautious approach with the 38-year-old after he overexerted himself last season and dealt with hip, knee and back issues that limited him to just 38 games (seven postseason games) in 2021-22.
Iguodala said he’s close to returning to team scrimmages and working toward an undisclosed “target date.” He also said that travel days have led to more inflammation.
“We ramp it up, we got real good days and got days where they take it back,” Iguodala said Thursday morning. “We’re on the right path.”
Pressed again about his target date, Iguodala said, “Nah, because then if you’re not there then you’re doing something wrong and its noise that is not helpful to everybody else. Soon.”
Iguodala said he’s in the process of getting the kinks out, but he’s happy with his shot. The media got a glimpse of him working out at a practice in San Francisco a couple weeks ago and he looked spry.
“Just getting out all the turnovers,” Iguodala said. “That’s always my thing. Get out the turnovers. Shooting the ball better than I thought I would be. I guess the older you get, I guess that stays there. Shooting the ball better than I thought, that’s a good thing.”
Iguodala profiles as a ball-handling playmaker and versatile defender for Warriors coach Steve Kerr, who isn’t hesitant to use him in the closing moments of tight games. Iguodala said he doesn’t want to be on any restrictions when he returns.
"Once we playin', we playin'," Iguodala said.
Golden State is off to a 2-2 start and trying to figure out its second-unit situation. When he returns, Iguodala will join an already crowded bench that doesn’t have enough minutes to go around for everyone, though guard Donte DiVincenzo (hamstring) will be out for a few more days at least. DiVincenzo's injury has opened up some minutes for Ty Jerome, who played 12 minutes in his Warriors on Tuesday against the Phoenix Suns.
Second-year Warriors forward Jonathan Kuminga is averaging just 10.8 minutes per game so far this season – down from his 16.9 average as a rookie – while third-year center James Wiseman (17.8 minutes per game) has vaulted up higher into the rotation. Second-year forward Moses Moody’s playing time (15.8 minutes per game) is also noticeably higher than Kuminga’s, but Iguodala is preaching patience to the young fella.
“The biggest thing with (Kuminga) is making sure that he’s confident and in good spirits,” Iguodala said. “If he’s not in good spirits, then understanding it’s not a bad attitude. It’s actually a good thing. You would want a guy upset if he’s not playing.”
Iguodala said he’s been working out with Kuminga and trying to make sure he keeps his head up.
Likewise, Iguodala said Wiseman needs to get through some growing pains as he assimilates to the NBA game following one-and-a-half missed seasons.
“I think he’s done a really good job of going back to the basics, being a true big,” Iguodala said. “He’s already got that other skillset. But it’s kinda like JK, learning how to play winning basketball and being locked in on fundamentals, then you’ll be able to expand your game from there.”
While players like Kuminga, Wiseman and Moody might be getting 30-plus minutes per night on weaker teams, Iguodala thinks this learning curve and bided time will ultimately pay long-term dividends for the young Dubs.
“On bad teams, you develop losing habits and get comfortable with losing,” Iguodala said. “You’re just putting up a bunch of empty stats, then you have that problem. On a losing team, are those real stats or are they empty stats? …
“It’s just about them being patient and understanding, like, when you’re learning winning basketball and then you get into your prime – they’re still only like 20 years old. You’re 24 years old, you still got 10 years you can be dominant, playing at a high level with winning ways of basketball. I think that’s the making of a true champion.”