In a recent podcast conversation, NBA legend Andre Iguodala candidly discussed the evolution of the league’s playing style, giving notable credit to LeBron James’ tenure with the Miami Heat for starting the small-ball revolution. At 39, Iguodala’s insider knowledge holds weight, having himself been a part of this transformation.
He emphasized how the pivotal point came after Miami’s loss to Dallas when specific tweaks started to take place. One standout observation was Chris Bosh, traditionally a power forward, shifting to play the center position. However, it didn’t seem like a small-ball lineup, especially with LeBron’s towering presence.
“Bron does well with shooters or guys diving to the basket,” Iguodala said. “And so, he doesn’t do well with midrange guys. It’s either you’re a stretch or you’re at the basket for a lob. And when he played with Miami and they lost to Dallas, they made subtle tweaks. It’s interesting — you started seeing certain tweaks where Chris Bosh would be at the 5. It didn’t look small ’cause LeBron’s got the ball, and he’s a big human being with the rock a lot…but they tweaked it against San Antonio, and I think that’s when you started seeing smaller basketball.”
Andre Iguodala on the LeBron Heatles changing basketball👇
“Bron does well shooters or guys diving to the basket. When he played and they lost to Dallas, they made subtle tweaks where Chris Bosh would be at the 5. It didn’t look small because LeBron is a big human being with the… pic.twitter.com/wyuDMMHctR
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Iguodala added, “Nobody really talks about it,” but it was these subtle strategic shifts, especially during their matches against the San Antonio Spurs, that began to shape the league’s trend towards smaller, faster, and more dynamic basketball.
Andre Iguodala’s own role in the small-ball era
The success tales of the small-ball strategy are well documented in NBA history, so it is more than just a theory. One of the most iconic instances dates back to the 2015 NBA Finals when the Golden State Warriors opted for a smaller lineup. Choosing the 6-foot-6 Iguodala over traditional big man Andrew Bogut. Iguodala’s outstanding performance, averaging 20.3 points, 7.0 rebounds, and 4.0 assists in the games he started, earned him the series MVP as the Warriors clinched the title.
While the Warriors’ success is widely acknowledged, Miami’s experimentation with this format might have started earlier. Their unexpected 2011 Finals loss to the Dallas Mavericks can be seen as a trigger for innovation. This loss opened the door for a change in strategies, which resulted in back-to-back championships against the Oklahoma City Thunder in 2012 and the San Antonio Spurs in 2013.
The Heat’s “Big 3” era, featuring LeBron James, Dwyane Wade, and Chris Bosh, undeniably changed the NBA’s landscape. Iguodala’s remarks spotlight the tactical details that contributed to that transformation.
Currently, at 39 and without an NBA team, Iguodala’s reflections aren’t just those of an observer. Having played two seasons with the Miami Heat, he witnessed firsthand the genius of head coach Erik Spoelstra and his game-changing tactics.