Before Sunday’s game against the Boston Celtics, the Denver Nuggets were on a roll, having won nine straight, and making believers out of intelligent yet skeptical NBA fans. However, all of that changed when Nuggets shooting guard Andre Iguodala sprained his right clavicle in a 118-114 triple overtime loss to the Celtics. Although Iguodala may not miss much time, if any, because of the injury, Denver will have to at least think about an emergency game plan that doesn’t involve its best player.
Now that last statement might be debated by some considering all of Iguodala’s numbers are below his career averages this year, his first with the Nuggets. However, to suggest that Iguodala’s presence isn’t vital to Denver’s success is simply ignorant.
Iguodala is still putting up over 13 points, roughly five boards and roughly five assists per game this year, which doesn’t lead the Nuggets on the stat sheet, but does on the floor. Iguodala is Denver’s best one-on-one defender and he’s thrived in that roll this season, especially over the past two weeks that included the Nuggets’ nine-game winning streak.
During the loss to Boston, we got a glimpse of what Denver would be like without Iguodala as Andre Miller, Corey Brewer and Wilson Chandler all saw extended minutes. All three players bring something solid to the table, but neither can replace Iguodala individually and though the three of them collectively can at least come close to matching Iguodala’s offensive presence (production combined with attention from opposing defenses), none even come close to matching his defensive production.
In short, the Nuggets need to know exactly how they’ll play if Iguodala were to miss time because although he says he’ll be ready for Denver’s game against the Toronto Raptors on Tuesday, that’s no guarantee.