Here’s one sure way for a basketball player, at any level, to earn the head coach’s faith without scoring in bunches: Make smart passes, play tenacious defense and commit zero turnovers in four consecutive games. Warriors forward Andre Iguodala takes this uncommon streak into Thursday night’s game against Detroit. That’s no turnovers alongside 15 assists, while averaging more than 28 minutes in those four games. This helps explain coach Steve Kerr’s unrestrained praise Tuesday night, after Iguodala’s latest under-the-radar contribution (nine points, five rebounds, four assists) in his team’s win over Miami. “I think he’s in a good groove,” Kerr said. “The last couple of games, he’s played really well. He had a stretch there where he wasn’t in a good flow, but he does so much for us and the last couple of games are really indicative of who he is and what he does for us.
“A little bit of everything with great defense. ... He kind of gets us settled. He did a great job.” It’s easy for Iguodala to blend into the background on these Warriors, obscured by Stephen Curry, Kevin Durant, Klay Thompson and Draymond Green. Durant’s arrival this season turned Iguodala into even more of a facilitator than usual, reflected in his 5.6 scoring average, on track for a career low. But through Tuesday, he led the NBA in assist-to-turnover ratio (5-to-1), well ahead of Clippers point guard Chris Paul (4.38-to-1). Iguodala also ranked fourth in the league among reserve players in plus-minus at plus-5.7 per game, behind only Toronto’s Patrick Patterson (8.1), San Antonio’s Patty Mills (6.6) and Houston’s Eric Gordon (5.8).
This counts as no small thing for Golden State’s second-oldest player, behind David West. Iguodala turns 33 this month, a notable number on a team that favors an up-tempo pace.
Iguodala also has dealt with back, knee and hamstring issues in recent years, but he’s been feeling spry the past month or so — as evident by his play on the court. “Once we got to December, or mid-December, I started catching my stride,” he said. “It may not show up on the stat sheet some nights, but I’ve been in a really good rhythm and I’m trying to keep that up. “I think it’s just getting up and down the court pretty good, fluid. When I rebound the ball well, I’m really effective. ... It’s not just what’s on the stat sheet but how I’m moving on the floor, making the pass that leads to the assist.” Iguodala clearly is adapting to his evolving role. He and guard Shaun Livingston essentially anchored the second unit the past two season, which often left Iguodala as one of the chief scoring threats on the court at any given time. Now, with Durant in the fold, Kerr has tinkered with his rotation and typically plays two of his three big scorers (Durant, Curry and Thompson) with the reserves. That means fewer shots for Iguodala, but it also allows him to focus on more subtle chores — such as creating space for his sharpshooting teammates. This pattern momentarily changed Tuesday night, when Kerr started the second quarter with Green and four reserves (Iguodala, West, Livingston and Ian Clark). Iguodala helped make the strategy work; Kerr said the group “changed the game” with its defense. “It’s kind of a different look, a very defensive-minded group,” Kerr said. “A lot of length and versatility defensively. They turned the game in our favor with their play during that stretch.” Kerr regularly raves about Iguodala’s value, but his future with the Warriors remains murky. They are expected to give Curry the richest contract in NBA history in the offseason — upward of $200 million over five years — and Durant could land an annual salary of approximately $36 million. The Warriors would need to create salary-cap space to make this happen, potentially forcing them to choose between Iguodala and Livingston. Both players are eligible for free agency after the season. Ron Kroichick is a San Francisco Chronicle staff writer. Email: rkroichick@sfchronicle.com Twitter: @ronkroichick Pistons (18-22) vs. Warriors (33-6) 7:30 p.m. Oracle Arena CSNBA, TNT/95.7