Brook’s out. Now what?

Brook Lopez

Andrei Kirilenko at PF, Kevin Garnett at C

Andrei Kirilenko
Is the injured Kirilenko the solution to Brooklyn’s woes? (AP)

Together in 2013-14: N/A
Highest rank: 1st
Lowest rank: 4th
Most common rank: 1st, 2nd (T)
Devin’s rank: 1st
Average rank: 2.3

Devin’s take: YES! Well, potentially.

You know I love funky lineups that force opponents to make a decision they might not be able to react to, and this is the definition of that.

This is exactly what some of us were talking about before the season. Kirilenko is this team’s magic slipper. They can throw him on at any position at any time, sit back, and watch the NBA get confused. He’s also not confused by this: Kirilenko played nearly half of his minutes last season as a power forward, according to Basketball-Reference. That’s the difference between him and Pierce: with Pierce playing power forward, he’d be out of position. Kirilenko has no position. He’s an amorphous basketball savant.

When he’s healthy.

And that’s the caveat. For everything I espouse about Kirilenko’s pure basketball IQ and abilities, he’s barely seen the floor this season. He’s fought back spasms he calls the worst of his career, and every time it seems like he’s a little closer he suffers another setback. He’s in and out of practices more frequently than Andray Blatche is in and out of the paint. Even if he’s back Monday night, the Nets shouldn’t rush him back into the starting lineup right away.

But if he strings together a few games? Do it. Kirilenko’s one of the best, most versatile defenders in the league, equally comfortable playing bigger post players and shooters. We’ve already spoken at length about how much better he is on the floor when he’s playing with Deron Williams, and his game predicated on constant motion and misdirection can confound even the best power forwards.

So this lineup was my choice, but of the people we asked, it was a close second. I’m a diplomat, so I won’t fudge the numbers. Here’s what the people want.

The Choice: #1