OAKLAND -- Aches and pains took their toll on Andre Iguodala in his first season with the Warriors.
He needed months for his left hamstring strain to fully heal, robbing him of some aggressiveness and explosiveness. Right knee tendinitis caused coach Mark Jackson to rest him for entire games throughout March and April.
"I don't think he's 100 percent, and I don't think he will be," Jackson said this week. "That's unfortunate. But he's a gamer."
Iguodala, rather than make excuses, has designs on coming alive when the Warriors face the Los Angeles Clippers in their first-round playoff series beginning Saturday. With center Andrew Bogut all but certain to miss the series because of a fractured rib, it's Iguodala who emerges as Golden State's best defender while taking on the challenge of slowing the NBA's highest-scoring team.
"Take a couple painkillers, knock it out, numb it up, and that adrenaline gets going," said Iguodala, who heads into Game 1 at Staples Center with five days off since last playing. "It just kind of washes it away, and you kind of forget about it.
"The playoffs, that's where nicknames are built. You put a stamp on your legacy by performing in the playoffs."
Iguodala, 30, arrived with high expectations in a sign-and-trade that netted him a four-year, $48 million contract. He's a player the Warriors hoped would push them further in the postseason. "Solid" would be how he described a season in which he played in 63 games.
Iguodala's averages of 9.3 points, 4.7 rebounds and 4.2 assists per game were among the lowest of his 10-year career. But those aren't the numbers that matter as much to Iguodala or the Warriors, who feature arguably a top-three defense because of the former All-Star and Olympian.
"I had a lot of perfect games defensively," Iguodala said. "I may have had one mistake, and then offensively, it's just not getting in the way, but being effective at the same time. Back cut here, spreading the floor, making the extra pass, keeping one of our guys in a good rhythm. Just really solid. Not a bad year, not a great year, but really solid for our team."
One statistic that does measure the value of Iguodala is the plus-minus rating. When he's on the court, he leads the NBA in a team's positive points differential. How does he do it?
The 6-foot-6 Iguodala helps the offense hum, shooting 48 percent from the field, handling the ball and feeding Stephen Curry and Klay Thompson while ranking second on the team in assists. On defense, he is a savant who guards multiple positions. Iguodala said he can watch 10 clips of an opposing player in five minutes and be able to pick out tendencies to exploit.
Ask what part of his game is his favorite to accentuate, and Iguodala's answer reflects a team-first mentality.
"Being able to just kind of just pick the game apart defensively and turn it into a great transition play on the offensive end rather than getting a steal or a rebound," Iguodala said.
Said Jackson: "You can take for granted the things he does, absolutely. When it doesn't jump out, when you look up and see eight points or 10 points, it's not the 'wow' factor, but he's made 10 different plays to put us in position to have the lead. I believe we have educated fans, and I think they are well aware of how important he is for this basketball team and the things that he does."
Iguodala, who has long believed his game has been underappreciated, said he has enjoyed his time playing in front of fans at Oracle Arena and living in the Bay Area. Last week, he spoke at a conference at Stanford on the "Basketball Analytics and the Present/Future of Data" panel. He said he participated so he could gain whatever knowledge he could.
"Just being around those thinkers that think outside the box," Iguodala explained.
Do Warriors fans fully appreciate his game?
"I think so," Iguodala said. "Not all the way, though."
Iguodala smiled. He recalled how in Philadelphia, where his career began, he never did quite win over the fans who hoped for more from him after the 76ers traded away Allen Iverson. He was a part of five playoff teams there but only two winning seasons. Failing to see the nuances of his game, some Philadelphia fans cussed him out instead.
With the Warriors, he can comfortably stay out of the spotlight while Curry grabs the headlines. He has 41 games of playoff experience, and his presence is valued in the locker room.
"He gives the young guys a veteran to look to, and that's very important to have a guy who goes about everything the right way," second-year player Draymond Green said.
All the while, the fashion-conscious Iguodala looks good doing it.
Iguodala works with a New York-based stylist in order to collaborate on his wardrobe. While resting on the second game of a back-to-back Monday, he wore a tailor-made, salmon-colored blazer as he hugged Jackson after the Warriors notched their 50th win of the season.
"I always say it's like my game," Iguodala said of his style. "I think I can pull pretty much anything off."
Kawakami: All-Star point guard Stephen Curry
is ascending to the ranks of all-time Warriors greats, and we have the pleasure of watching it happen.
Game 1: Saturday, 12:30 p.m. at L.A., ABC
Game 2: Monday, 7:30 p.m., at L.A. TNT, CSNBA
Game 3: Thu., 7:30 p.m., at Warriors, TNT, CSNBA
Game 4: April 27, 12:30 p.m., at Warriors, ABC
Game 5*: April 29,
TBD at L.A.
Game 6*: May 1, TBD at Warriors
Game 7*: May 3, TBD at L.A., TNT, CSNBA
* -- IF NECESSARY