Meet Andrei Kirilenko, a 6-9 forward from Russia, who last played in the NBA with the Utah Jazz. Kirilenko, or AK-47, is known for his versatility and his ability to play multiple positions. He is also well-known for his defensive toughness.
Kirilenko has been a member of the NBA All-Star Team (2004), First Team All-Defense (2006), Second Team All-Defense (2004, 2005) and First Team NBA All-Rookie (2002). Kirilenko was also the MVP and Defensive Player of the Year of the Euroleague this season, and MVP of EuroBasket in 2007. At 31, he still has the potential to add some more awards to his resume. For his career, Kirilenko posted 12.4 points per game, with 16.5 being his career high. He has also logged 5.6 boards and 2.0 blocks per game.
Kirilenko has been an off-the-radar free agent, as he has spent the last season playing in the Euroleague, where he signed a season-long contract during the NBA lockout with CSKA Moscow. Kirilenko tore it up, averaging 14.1 points, 7.5 rebounds, 1.9 blocks and shot 59.8% from the field. His MVP-level play showed that AK still has something to offer in the NBA, and specifically, something to the Nets.
AK has been rumored to Brooklyn for some time now, mainly due to his connection with Mikhail Prokhorov. The two are friends and Prokhorov has mentioned bringing his Russian heritage into Nets culture. Kirilenko would add that immediately as he is the only Russian-born player that would contribute to an NBA team.
Kirilenko would bring immediate depth to Brooklyn’s wing positions. The addition of Kirilenko to the rotation of Gerald Wallace and Gerald Green would give Brooklyn three high-energy, scoring hustle forwards. AK and Wallace would compliment each other because both are lock-down defenders who can run the floor. Kirilenko would give the Nets a very stable rotation at the wing, which, before the acquisition of Wallace, was embarrassingly weak.
A strong defender, Kirilenko normally mans the three, but with his size, speed, and ability to defend, he can fill in at multiple positions. This gives the Nets flexibility to get creative with their five-man sets, knowing that there is always a place for AK when he is needed.
If in Brooklyn, lineups with him and Wallace at the four and three respectively would add defensive toughness. The two of them would create a nightmare scenario for opposing forwards, especially going up against two guys who aren’t afraid to throw their body around the floor.
Like Wallace, Kirilenko is over 30 and his better days have passed him. However, this isn’t to say he no longer has anything left to offer. He is still a valuable asset to an NBA team and will be a sought-after free agent come July. Luckily for the Nets, it appears that he wants to be in Brooklyn (or at least playing for Prokhorov) and there have already been numerous reports which have linked him to signing with the Nets.