Two of Andre Iguodala's former Warriors teammates will make their long-awaited returns to the court next month, and he has high hopes for both of them.
Days after Iguodala said he expects Steph Curry to have "a big year," the Miami Heat forward said Friday on "The Match: Champions for Change" that Brooklyn Nets superstar Kevin Durant is his MVP pick for next season.
"Both guys will be great next year," Iguodala said, referring to a tweet posted by "No Laying Up" featuring an animated GIF of Durant and Draymond Green. "I'm looking forward to seeing KD. My preseason MVP [pick]."
After leaving the Warriors in free agency last summer, Durant missed the entirety of the 2019-20 season while rehabilitating a ruptured Achilles' tendon he sustained in Game 5 of the 2019 NBA Finals. Durant sustained the injury in his first game back after picking up a calf injury in the Warriors' second-round series with the Houston Rockets that postseason.
Up until that first injury, Durant was playing some of the best basketball of his career. Durant averaged 34.9 points, 5.2 rebounds and 4.9 assists through first 11 games of the 2019 playoffs. The two-time NBA Finals MVP was shooting 51.3 percent from the field, 41.6 percent from beyond the 3-point line and 90.1 percent from the free-throw line. Durant will be 32 when he takes the court next month, but Iguodala believes his former teammate can hit the ground running.
Golden State Warriors
Curry is coming off a significant layoff, too, as he played just one game after breaking his hand last October and before the previous season was suspended due to the coronavirus pandemic. The Warriors finished 15-50 due to Curry and Klay Thompson's absences, leaving Green as Golden State's most accomplished and experienced player practically every night. Iguodala told The Athletic's Richard Deitsch earlier this week that he's confident in his former teammates bouncing back.
"I think they will be motivated from last year," Iguodala told Deitsch. "I think it was good for them to have that time off. Going to that many Finals takes a toll on a body, especially what is expected from [Curry]. It was good for him to just be able to let the brain settle down from the last five years. I think Steph is in his bag right now in terms of the prep he’s been putting to get ready for the upcoming season. I’m really, really excited to see what he comes out and does."
Iguodala's path back to the NBA Finals likely runs through Durant. The Heat's appearance in the Finals this fall was Iguodala's sixth straight, but Durant's Nets are considered to be the favorites in the Eastern Conference.
If Miami and Brooklyn do match up in the playoffs and Durant is as good as Iguodala predicted Friday, Iguodala's streak could come to an end.