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Thursday (Five things about Andrei Kirilenko) edition: Wha' Happened?

  • Blog Post by: Michael Rand
  • July 26, 2012 - 9:24 AM

Andrei Kirilenko, who has reportedly agreed to a two-year, $20 million deal with the Wolves, is the perfect (likely) end to an offseason of moves for your local NBA team. He is the big piece the team had to get after failing to land Nicolas Batum. He also pairs nicely with Brandon Roy to give Minnesota the most intriguing, wild-card offseason of any NBA team.

If Ricky Rubio can return to form … if Roy can give the Wolves 20-25 minutes a game, many of them in the fourth quarter … if Chase Budinger provides needed depth … if Kirilenko is at least 80 percent of what he was in his prime (and he’s still only 31, so he should be) … if Kevin Love is convinced that this all constitutes greatness surrounding greatness … well, then, this team is a playoff team. This could be a 50-plus-win team. We are serious. If the majority of the aforementioned things do not happen, this is a 30 to 35-win team.

For now, though, let’s focus on Kirilenko. We’re not going to go too deep on advanced stats – Talk Hoops did that quite nicely already -- but we will pick out a few things on and off the court.
 
1) At his best, he is a terrific defensive player from many standpoints – something the Wolves can desperately use after falling off quite a bit on that end of the floor post-Rubio injury. Kirilenko can guard the screen-and-roll, he is smart in overall team defensive settings and he is a fantastic shot blocker. Those block numbers have trailed off in recent years, but he still owns two seasons with at least three blocks per game. The Wolves had nobody with more than one block per game last season.
 
2) On a personal level, he appears to be quite colorful. He has that back tattoo you see pictured. We don’t quite have the words for it, but maybe we’ll use the generic “awesome.” He is a man of 1,000 hair styles, as you will find from a simple Google image search. And, as many folks have reminded us already on Twitter, he is married to a Russian pop singer who once said during an interview that she allows Kirilenko to have one extra-marital affair per year. "If I know about it," she once said, "it's not cheating." (Note: This is the only time in known history this will ever work, fellas).
 
3) He has been given the nickname AK47 because of his initials and number he wore in Utah. We don't even know what would have happened if Kirilenko played for the Wolves during KG's infamous playoff speech about guns and war. The universe might have collapsed into a singularity.
 
4) This is reportedly a two-year contract. As such, even with the dollar amount, it is low-risk. As noted before, Kirilenko is 31. That's hardly ancient. He was the Euroleague MVP last year after playing overseas by choice.
 
5) Yes, this offseason has largely been about David Kahn fixing his own mistakes. The search for wing players has largely been a result of the inadequacies or outright failures of Wes Johnson, Martell Webester and Michael Beasley, all acquired by Kahn in different ways and now gone in different ways. They needed Greg Stiemsma because Darko Milicic, once dubbed Manna From Heaven by Kahn, was so bad that he was amnestied. (And no, we most certainly don't consider Derrick Williams a mistake after a 66-game lockout season). That said, would it have been better if Kahn had remained stubborn and insisted upon compounding his own mistakes or cut bait quickly? We'll definitely take the latter.

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