Wednesday, September 25, 2013

Player Introduction: Andrei Kirilenko

If there was one player that you could add to a team that makes a significant impact on every part of a basketball game, Andrei Kirilenko is that player. Whether he's chasing down loose balls, blocking shots, or putting the ball in the hoop, Kirilenko truly does do it all.

When the Nets made the big trade for Garnett, Pierce, and Terry, it was thought that they would not have the kind of cap space to add more significant pieces to the roster, specifically the bench. Mikhail Prokhorov, Billy King, and Jason Kidd worked their magic and convinced AK47 to join the new-look Brooklyn Nets for an opportunity to win.

Kirilenko isn't even close to the end of his career, and would have gotten more money than he got from the Nets. The only difference is that most of those teams probably wouldn't be contenders after he signed his deal.

Adding Kirilenko to the mix is special. He instantly gives the Nets one of the deepest benches in the NBA, and the fact that he would be a starter on almost every other team is mind-blowing. The Nets' backup for both Pierce and sometimes Garnett is a starter anywhere else.

With this signing came a lot of discriminatory speculation among other owners that Prokhorov was slipping Kirilenko more money under the table. The NBA would investigate it, but they found nothing dirty going on. This was a simple case of a veteran looking for a chance to win now that he had previously collected a lot of money earlier in his career.

Just who is Andrei Kirilenko? Let's start with his versatility. Kirilenko is a 6'9" small forward who also has the tools to play power forward. This fits in with Billy King's vision of having a team of guys who can play multiple positions. As a natural small forward, Kirilenko right now places seventh on the list of active leaders in blocked shots.

Last season, Kirilenko signed a deal with the Minnesota Timberwolves with a player option for the second year. He averaged 12.4 points, 5.7 rebounds, 2.8 assists, 1.5 steals, and 1.0 blocks per game. These all match up pretty equally with his career numbers, besides his decrease in blocked shots.

Kirilenko makes the Nets a much more complete team than they would be without him. The fact that they got him for the MINI-mid level exception takes the cake.

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