Weight: 235 lbs.
Date of Birth: February 18, 1981
Years Pro: 12
Before NBA: CSKA Moscow (Russia)
Drafted: 24th overall, 1999 NBA Draft
– Full Stats –
Hey, remember when the league grew suspicious over Andrei Kirilenko’s decision to opt out of his $10.2 million deal with the T-Wolves and sign a two-year, $6.5 million contract with the Nets? Me neither.
Even after a league investigation, Kirilenko played (or didn’t play) at a level that wasn’t able to match the value of his discounted contract.
It’s a damn shame Kirilenko wasn’t healthy for more games: the Nets went 30-15 with Kirilenko in and 14-23 when he sat. This summer, AK-47 opted in to the second (and final) year of his deal which will pay him about $3.3 million for the ‘14-’15 season with Brooklyn. Will he be worth it?
Kirilenko’s numbers shot down across the board last season, averaging just five points in under 20 minutes per game. What’s also completely unexplainable was his sharp decline in free throw shooting. AK-47 made just 61 of 119 (51.3%) free throws last season, a drop of about 25 percentage points from the previous year. It was clear that it got to his head.
But his box scores don’t do him justice the way they used to.
Kirilenko has his flaws. He can’t hit a jumper outside of 8 feet. He struggled with on-ball defense much of last season. Opposing guards and forwards routinely attacked him off the dribble and got a step or two. I’d like to think his lack of consistency is more due to his lingering back problems he faced as opposed to his declining abilities. A definitive answer to that question probably comes within the first couple weeks.
His basketball IQ is off the charts, his constant effort is palpable, and he makes situationally sound plays. He’s 33 years old, but his contributions in limited time should be enough to get excited to see what a healthy Kirilenko can do over a full season.
He’s not a talented scorer, but he’s a ton of fun to watch. He sees the game in ways other guys don’t. He’s often in the right spot at the right time.
The Nets’ roster last season was very long, with Kirilenko, Shaun Livingston, and Kevin Garnett. With Livingston gone via free agency, Kirilenko’s length becomes that much more important.
Hollins will likely use Kirilenko much more than Kidd. In his minutes, he won’t be asked to score. He’ll provide those “odds-and-ends” type plays that gets the crowd going, frustrates opponents, and wins games.
Andrei Kirilenko (and his hair) was phenomenal at times last season. Some examples:
Will the Nets have that Andrei Kirilenko for 82 games?