BASKETBALL

Making USA roster could help Iguodala raise overall game

2010-07-27T00:00:00Z 2014-07-24T09:46:20Z Making USA roster could help Iguodala raise overall gameBruce Pascoe Arizona Daily Star Arizona Daily Star
July 27, 2010 12:00 am  • 

LAS VEGAS - Six years after he left Arizona as the No. 9 pick in the NBA Draft, Andre Iguodala may be known mostly for his $80 million contract, his off-court charity work and his on-court versatility.

He's not known as an NBA All-Star. Not yet, anyway.

Iguodala could change that soon, especially if he can parlay an impressive performance so far with Team USA into a more significant role under new 76ers coach Doug Collins.

With many of Team USA's 2008 Olympic stars opting to take the summer off rather than play in the World Championships, Iguodala was given an invitation to not just make the national team but become a significant presence.

The 6-foot-6-inch guard-forward is taking advantage of the opportunity.

Iguodala capped a strong week of training camp by cramming 17 points on just 5-of-6 shooting, with five assists and six rebounds, into 23 minutes of an intrasquad scrimmage Saturday night at the Thomas & Mack Center.

"I told him right after the ballgame that he was beautifully efficient," USA coach Mike Krzyzewski said. "He can defend. You need guys out there who don't have to touch the ball. He's a fun guy to play. … He'll be one of the keys for our basketball team."

Despite his contract in Philadelphia, Iguodala arrived in training camp without a guarantee of making the USA team. He was brought in to play defense, guard multiple positions and be unselfish offensively - not to be a star.

"He's an incredible defender," said Jerry Colangelo, USA Basketball's chairman. "Andre can really guard anyone on the court. And if we're going to become the kind of team we might become, which is small, we want to pressure - and defense is going to be a real important part of it. So he brings a lot to the table. He may be the most athletic guy that we have."

Coming into the week, that's exactly what Iguodala was hoping. He wasn't thinking so much about having to make the team as much as how he could help.

"I don't look at it like that," Iguodala said. "I just look at it as what they need from me, and making that my focal point. Like I know they need me to cover on the perimeter. And from that, show them other areas. It's sort of like when I came into the league my rookie year. I have the same mindset."

If Iguodala does make the team, playing for the world championship next month in Turkey, a successful run won't necessarily change his NBA career. But, Colangelo said, it could change Iguodala.

"We told the players that if you buy in and do what your asked to do, you'll win," Colangelo said. "It's not just winning - it's how we win and you're going to be better for it. I would say they're better people after the experience. They bring a different culture back to their franchises, so the franchises benefited as does the NBA ultimately."

No doubt the 76ers could use a few more benefits. Philadelphia hasn't won a playoff series in seven years and hit bottom last season, going 27-55. Since then, the 76ers have hired Collins and are working in versatile wing Evan Turner, the No. 2 overall pick of this year's draft out of Ohio State.

Collins arranged his first one-on-one off-season talk with Iguodala in the Los Angeles office of Iguodala's agent back in May, and came to Las Vegas last week to watch him play for Team USA.

"I told him he hasn't scratched the surface of the player he can become, but we have to tighten up his game," Collins told the Philadelphia Daily News. "He can't live on long jump shots. I've coached wing players like Michael Jordan, Scottie Pippen, Grant Hill, Jerry Stackhouse, Rip Hamilton and Allan Houston, and they've all played well.

"That's exactly what I want to do with Andre," Collins added. "He can become a first-team All-Defense guy, a very good all-around player. If he plays to his strengths, it can make the game easy for him."

Iguodala said he was excited about the new leadership, too.

"Coach Collins has a good track record and he's passionate about the game," Iguodala said. "His best players have been wing players with Scottie and Grant. So I really can't argue with too much. He's had the type of player who can do it. I'm ready for the challenge of the season."

Iguodala has nothing to lose. Already, he's been dealing with the expectations and high pressure that came with the huge six-year contact he signed two years ago - and he's doing it in a city famous for being unforgiving.

"It's a tough town," Iguodala said. "They're really passionate. But that's something you've gotta be prepared for. Philly's kind of like an acquired taste. You've got to adjust to it; it won't adjust to you. I think that's helped me out.

"You're always going to have doubters wherever you are. You've just got to work hard to prove them wrong."

Copyright 2014 Arizona Daily Star. All rights reserved. This material may not be published, broadcast, rewritten or redistributed.


AP Top 25


Free Wildcats Sports Newsletter

University of Arizona sports news and blog headlines, delivered daily

Follow the Arizona Daily Star