Andrei Kirilenko the game-changer

In a weird way, Andrei Kirilenko may be this Brooklyn Nets team’s best player.

Kirilenko isn’t a prolific scorer. He doesn’t rack up assists like Deron Williams or rebounds like Reggie Evans. But Kirilenko’s impact comes in all the little things: deflections, smart cuts, and quick passes that throw defenses completely out of whack.

With Lopez sidelined for the season and Deron Williams fighting another ankle injury, Kirilenko was an important “disruptive force,” as Ian Eagle called it, doing a little bit of everything.

The 6’9″ forward’s impact was felt throughout the team’s 91-86 victory over the Atlanta Hawks, particularly in the first half. Eight points, four assists, and three rebounds in 21 minutes aren’t eye-popping numbers, but Kirilenko did a little bit of everything: deflecting passes, finding teammates in unique spots, hitting the floor defensively, and cutting backdoor at just the right times:

Back spasms kept Kirilenko off the floor for most of the first two months, and with Kirilenko’s kinetic style, he wasn’t comfortable returning until he had his full range of motion. That motion was on display against the Hawks Monday night, as you can see above.

Kidd stretched Kirilenko’s minutes beyond his expectations, and in Kidd’s oft-used words, we’ll see how he feels tomorrow. But he looked great tonight.

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