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Andre Iguodala has been given much more responsibility than most NBA rookies, especially on the defensive end.

The 76ers' first-round draft pick draws the assignment of guarding the toughest player on every team except the center. Last week, he guarded the Los Angeles Lakers' Kobe Bryant and Cleveland's LeBron James in successive games. The two all-stars shot a combined 9 for 35. The Sixers won both games.

Sixers assistant Dick Harter has been coaching in the NBA for two decades, and he says that no rookie has had as much defensive responsibility in that time as Iguodala, the ninth pick in last June's draft.

"Back when Joe Dumars was a rookie [with Detroit], he guarded the top players, but he didn't play the minutes Andre is playing," Harter, a former Pistons assistant, said before the Sixers' 94-88 loss to the Chicago Bulls on Saturday night at the Wachovia Center.

"In my 20 years, [Iguodala] is getting as much thrown at him as any rookie, and he's done a really nice job."

Dumars, now the Pistons' president of basketball operations, started 45 of 82 games as a rookie guard in 1985-86 and averaged 9.4 points in 23.8 minutes per game.

Iguodala has started all 66 games for the Sixers this season. He is averaging 8.7 points and 5.5 rebounds in 32.1 minutes. He has already played more games than he did in his two-year college career at the University of Arizona, where he appeared in 62.

Among rookies, only Charlotte's Emeka Okafor is playing more minutes per game than Iguodala. Okafor, chosen second in the draft, is averaging 35.6 minutes. Orlando's Dwight Howard, the top pick, is just behind Iguodala at 32.0. Iguodala leads all rookies with 1.62 steals per game.

The 6-foot-6 Iguodala came up with a block for the ages during Friday's 93-81 victory in Cleveland when he chased down 7-foot-3 Zydrunas Ilgauskas and snuffed what looked like a sure layup. He said it was only the second-best block of his young NBA career.

"I had one our first home game against [Phoenix's] Amare Stoudemire that I would say was my best," he said.

Iguodala conceded that guarding prolific scorers on a nightly basis has been difficult.

"It's really tough night in and night out, but it's a great experience," he said.

That feeling was amplified by a conversation Iguodala had with the Sixers' other A.I. - Allen Iverson.

"He told me that when he was a rookie, in games when he didn't have to guard somebody tough, he didn't bear down as much defensively," Iguodala said. "With the assignments I'm getting, it makes you bear down every night."

Harter said the Sixers have put so much defensive responsibility on a rookie for a simple reason.

"We don't have a lot of other great perimeter defenders, and he has to do it," he said.

Not every night has been a slam dunk on the defensive end for Iguodala. In Saturday's loss, he had to guard both Kirk Hinrich, the Bulls' starting point guard, and Ben Gordon, their super sub at shooting guard. Gordon scored eight of his 22 points in the fourth quarter with Iguodala on him, including two three-pointers.

"I'm learning every game," Iguodala said. "This has been quite an education."

Sixers coach Jim O'Brien said he couldn't be happier with the progress of Iguodala.

"He has really taken his game to a nice level," O'Brien said. "Early in the season, he got the starting nod because we thought he could guard the other team's best players, and to be able to get that experience has been great for his development."
 

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This kid has a great attitude and I'm glad we took him. I can't believe some teams (like Atlanta) passed on him. I think in a few years he will become a legitimate scoring threat as well, he has the tools to be that right now, but he's humble and takes a backseat to Iverson and Webber.
 

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Kunlun said:
This kid has a great attitude and I'm glad we took him. I can't believe some teams (like Atlanta) passed on him. I think in a few years he will become a legitimate scoring threat as well, he has the tools to be that right now, but he's humble and takes a backseat to Iverson and Webber.
Hey, weren't you the same guy talking about trading him for Nikoloz Tskitishvili? ;)
 

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PhillyPhanatic said:
Hey, weren't you the same guy talking about trading him for Nikoloz Tskitishvili? ;)
speaking of Tskitishvili...the Warriors are looking good. I haven't seen them play like this since they had Gilbert Arenas.

But Iggy's the man!
 
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alleninsf said:
speaking of Tskitishvili...the Warriors are looking good. I haven't seen them play like this since they had Gilbert Arenas.

But Iggy's the man!
Yeah that GState turn around has a lot to do with them acquiring another dynamic PG. Next year they should challenge for a spot in the playoffs.

Iguodala is great, he's even better than I thought he'd be, we've already heard a ton about his work ethic now I'm looking forward to seeing his improvement from this year to next year.
 

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PhillyPhanatic said:
Hey, weren't you the same guy talking about trading him for Nikoloz Tskitishvili? ;)
Haha, yeah that was me. I've always liked Iggy, but I always thought that Skita would develop into something really rare and special in this league like Dirk Nowitkzki. Maybe after another year I'll give up on that thought.
 

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Well next year is really going to be the year for him to prove it, but it'll be rough since it might be even harder for him to crack the rotation in Golden State than it was in Denver.
 

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I too am extremely impressed with Iguodala, I knew he was good on defense, but early this season, I didn't even think he would be doing this good already. Once Iverson starts to age a bit more, and Webber's knee finishes it's dissolving process, I see him developing that killer offensive edge (maybe not to the point of someone like Iverson, but enough to be a offensive threat in the 20 ppg range). I am very excited to see Iguodala and Dalembert (hopefully) in the future, two great defensive players. We could develop into a great defensive team with these two as the corner pieces, something like Detroit, because Iggy won't be a franchise player in the sense of an Iverson or Kobe (he could, but I don't think it is so likely), more like Ben Wallace, where everything will be team oriented and he will be the best player on the team.
 
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I didn't know he could pass like this. He has 7 assists at halftime of the Pistons game. Damn, he's got it all. Maybe I was too quick to say trade him for Tskitishvilli.
 

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Kunlun said:
I didn't know he could pass like this. He has 7 assists at halftime of the Pistons game. Damn, he's got it all. Maybe I was too quick to say trade him for Tskitishvilli.
Hes playing some unselfish basketball tonight against the Pistons.
 

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RoyWilliams said:
Hes playing some unselfish basketball tonight against the Pistons.
He's always playing unselfish basketball, but I've just never seen his assists numbers so high before and it's only halftime. Maybe if we win this game and he is doing well like this for the second half we could have him play point forward for us in the future.
 

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Kunlun said:
He's always playing unselfish basketball, but I've just never seen his assists numbers so high before and it's only halftime. Maybe if we win this game and he is doing well like this for the second half we could have him play point forward for us in the future.
True, my friend loves having Iggy on his fantasy team because he consistantly gets numbers in every category.
 

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Kunlun said:
He's always playing unselfish basketball, but I've just never seen his assists numbers so high before and it's only halftime. Maybe if we win this game and he is doing well like this for the second half we could have him play point forward for us in the future.

Clever idea. Iguodala handling the ball more often isn't such a bad idea, the more versatile this team is, the better. This would help have Iverson run off from screens and get more "designed" shots drawn up for him.

Iggy, once again, found a way to impress me. This time, he proved to me that he was much more mature, and complete of a basketball player that I thought he ever was. To my defense, I don't get to watch the Sixers play as often as you guys, but I had no clue he had half the basketball IQ or fundamentals. O'Brien should really start calling some plays his way, added with his athleticism, all he's got to work on his his mid-range jumper and shooting in general.

Iggy for All-Rookie Team.
 

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I've thought for a while that Iggy's been able to handle the ball more and I'd love to see him play the point guard/forward.

His development into Scottie Pippen has begun :biggrin:
 

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The box score might not suggest it, but rookie Andre Iguodala produced a fine defensive effort against Paul Pierce, a four-time all-star, yesterday in the 76ers' 97-93 win over the Boston Celtics at the FleetCenter.

Pierce hit 9 of 20 shots from the field and scored 26 points. But he had to make many difficult shots over the Sixers' stopper to get those points.

"I'm starting to understand about a lot of scorers, that they are going to make shots and the key is to make them make tough shots," said Iguodala, who scored 10 points himself and added five steals.

"In the first half, I saw what he was doing before he made the move and got a couple of steals that way. But he adjusted in the second half and started to get to the foul line."

Pierce missed 5 of 11 free throws, which was a key to the outcome of the game. After the game, he wasn't in a mood to throw any bouquets Iguodala's way.

Pierce's response when asked about Iguodala's defense?

"No comment."

One of Iguodala's best plays came when he fought through two screens and stole a pass intended for Pierce. He finished the sequence with a double-pump dunk to give the Sixers an 81-72 lead with 7 minutes, 24 seconds left.

"Andre continues to make big plays," Sixers coach Jim O'Brien said.
 
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