Seeing the inevitable “Kirilenko listed as OUT” tweet on the afternoon of Nets game day was becoming a frustrating sight.
As days turned into weeks turned into months, Kirilenko’s absence became just one more drop in the Nets’ ever-cresting wave of disappointment.
But back healthy (relatively) and in the lineup again, it’s easy to see why many teams were envious of the Nets inking the lanky Russian.
In one 4th quarter sequence, Kirilenko showed off the skills that made him the “steal” of the offseason.
On this particular possession, Kirilenko displays great effort on the defensive end and does what any effective NBA defender must do in today’s game – give multiple efforts.
First, Kirilenko fights over a screen to close out to one of the NBA’s most lethal scorers, Kevin Durant. He uses his long arms to harass Durant on the perimeter and, although beaten by a step, Kirilenko continues his pursuit into the paint, knocking the ball away from Durant on his foray to the hoop.
The loose ball is scooped up by the Thunder’s Steven Adams who kicks it back to out Reggie Jackson for what is seemingly a wide open three. In scramble mode, Kirilenko quickly sniffs out the pass and, although in difficult position, he’s able to contest Jackson’s shot hard enough to force a miss. A true act of effort and limbyness.
Finally, Kirilenko turns his contest into a run out and after Reggie Evans collects the rebound and fires a pass to the streaking Kirilenko. AK uses his long arms to snare the sailing pass and put home the easy dunk.
In what was seemingly a routine 30 seconds of NBA basketball, Kirilenko showed off necessary skills that the Nets have been lacking this season – speed, athleticism and length.
Stay healthy, AK.