SF Prospect: Andrei Kirilenko

*Photo by Jordan Johnson/NBAE via Getty Images

The Basics
Height: 6’9
Weight: 235
Wingspan: 7’4
Age: 32

Quick Hits
Super long for position
Excellent Defender
High Basketball IQ
Runs floor very well
Smart cutter
Good passer
Limited Shooter

His Offensive Game
Kirilenko is not a superb offensive player and is best served playing a complementary role in an offense. He isn’t a great shooter either, as he made just 32% of his spot-up 3s last year. However, he has a high basketball IQ and makes plays working off of the strengths of other players.

AK is excellent cutting to the basket, and this facet of the game accounted for 18.5% of his offense last year, according to mysynergysports. He ranked as the 28th most efficient cutter in the NBA, shooting a ridiculous 70% on his cuts. He is savvy and understands when to make cuts, and he finishes very well because of his athleticism and length.

He is very good in transition, ranking as the 12th most efficient player in the NBA. AK loves to leak out on the break and is capable of handling the ball or filling the lanes. He shot 76% in transition offense.

He is a good ball-handler and can put the ball on the deck to beat close outs and also can find teammates with passes. His awareness is a considerable help in this regard. AK is a good passer for his position.

His Defensive Game
Think of Al-Farouq Aminu’s height and long arms. Now, pretend he’s a veteran and has lost a little athleticism, but has become an incredibly instinctive and smart defender. That’s Andrei Kirilenko. Kirilenko has never been and won’t ever be the rebounder Aminu is, but he is a special defender. He anticipates very well, helps very well, and is a non-stop worker on the defensive end of the floor.

Kirilenko is a gambler, but he does so in a calculating way- he isn’t reckless. He was a terrorizing shot-blocker early in his career, and although he isn’t that same type of force now, he is very capable of blocking both jumpers and shots at the rim. He is an excellent help defender because of his mobility, length, and intelligence.

If  you are looking for an example of AK’s defensive impact, go watch his matchup with Kevin Durant on March 29 of last season. KD scored 36 points that game, but only 8 versus AK, who spent the majority of his minutes guarding KD. AK was blanketing him and preventing KD from getting the ball, was fighting through screens, and making Durant work to get his points. When someone else (Budinger, Cunningham) was on Durant, he found ways to get the ball and virtually score at will. AK forced KD into 4 turnovers, even blocking one of Durant’s shots.

I would never sit here and tell you that AK could shut down Kevin Durant, but it is no coincidence that KD was far more effective against other Timberwolves. AK was not without mistake, as he lost KD on one cut and also, in my opinion, was too willing to switch Derrick Williams onto Durant off of a few picks. The Thunder also have Russell Westbrook to initiate a lot of their offense. But anyone who can make KD work hard to get his points is okay in my book, because there is no way you’re shutting Durant down.

Rebounding Rates (in % format, via HoopData)

08-09   09-10  10-11   12-13
Kirilenko ORR     5.5      5.5     6.0      5.6
Leauge Average (SF)     4.7      4.2     4.3      4.8
Kirilenko DRR    15.3     12.9    13.8     14.9
Leauge Average (SF)    13.9     13.9    13.6     14.8
Kirilenko TRR    10.4      9.3     9.9     10.1
Leauge Average (SF)     9.3      9.1     9.0      9.8


Kirilenko is a very good offensive rebounder, showing good timing to get position and the athleticism/length to pull down rebounds over players. Conversely, he is a very average defensive rebounder, though this could partially be explained by his tendency to try to alter shots and also his affinity for leaking out on the break. His overall rebounding rates may dip a tiny bit as he ages.

Scoring in Detail (via nba.com/stats)


Notes from Chart
There really isn’t that much to say about Kirilneko’s shot chart. He does most of his work near the rim via cuts, rebounds, and transition play. It is perhaps notable that Kirilenko shoots many more 3s above the break from the right side, where he is a below-average shooter. Oddly enough, Kirilenko rarely shoots from the corners.

Kirilenko knows his strengths and doesn’t try to be a player he’s not, which is why he spends most of his time taking shots near the rim. It also allows him to be an efficient offensive option despite his limited shooting.

How He Fits
Kirilenko is an excellent fit for the Pelicans, and not just at the 3. He is very capable of defending 4s, and even 5s in a pinch. His defensive versatility would do wonders for the frontcourt, and could switch between the 3 and the 4 based on which teammates he’s playing alongside.

Most importantly, he is an excellent fit next to Ryan Anderson and Anthony Davis. His shot-blocking and help defense could help cover for Anderson, and Anderson’s ability to stretch the floor could offset Kirilenko’s below-average shooting. Kirilenko is not a liability on offense by any means, and his propensity for cutting would be a great fit with guards who can draw attention with their dribble-penetration and shot-creation. Sound like any guards you know?

Why You Should Want Him to Sign
Kirilenko appears to have some run left in his legs, and he showed no signs of slowing down last year for the Timberwolves. He is an excellent glue guy and was a key contributor on a team that had the misfortune of serious injuries to seemingly every player who put on a jersey.

He is not a long-term solution for the Pelicans, but his presence would allow the team to develop a younger small forward slowly. Don’t freak out because he’s “old.” The core of the Pelicans is young, and there will be plenty of players rotating in and out of the Pelicans roster in the years to come. Every player’s age doesn’t have to line up perfectly. Kirilenko would bring experience, terrific defense, and a complementary option to a Pelican team that needs a contributor who has been around the league for a long time.

Expected Contract
3 years, ~24 million

It’s hard to say exactly what kind of contract Kirilenko will get. Andre Iguodala will undoubtedly rake in the biggest contract of any wing this offseason, as there are multiple teams in need of a difference-making wing. It isn’t impossible to think that someone strikes out on Iguodala and overpays for Kirilenko. However, Kirilenko is already 32 and certainly doesn’t warrant the long-term appeal of younger wings. Teams will be more likely to throw money at AK for a shorter time period, such as 2 years, but he will probably want as many years as he can get, because this is almost certainly his last big contract.

He may not be as desirable of an option as Andre Iguodala, but if the Pelicans cannot grab Iggy, Kirilenko would be an excellent option to help push the Pelicans towards the playoffs.

Final Note
There is some concern among the readers that Kirilenko’s insertion into the starting lineup wouldn’t allow for great floor-spacing. This is correct, but here are some points to consider.

1. New Orleans was not a bad offense last year, despite Gordon missing roughly half the games, Davis being a rookie and getting hurt, Vasquez having too much responsibility, and Aminu giving us no offense whatsoever. The Pelicans were still tied for the 15th most efficient offense in the league.

2. Kirilenko is a far superior option to Aminu on offense.

3. Jrue Holiday is a better shot-creator than Vasquez was.

Just some food for thought.

14 responses to “SF Prospect: Andrei Kirilenko”

  1. Don’t see him as a good fit with our guards that need a floor spacer. Would rather a combination of Webster and aminu for much cheaper.

    • Pelicans3fan3 I agree about him not being a floor spacer.  Isn’t that something y’all are saying we need, big time?  I think he’s a very solid player, just not sure he’d fill the shooting gap we need.

      • j_diggs Pelicans3fan3 definitely wouldn’t fill the shooting gap we need, but would fill everything else, and allow Davis/Anderson to play together.
        Would still have 2 guards and Anderson to shoot 3s, and Davis can pop out to midrange. Spacing isn’t great.
        Defense would be awesome

  2. Just a taught, we should go after Andrew Bynum & upgrade our (C) position now and we still would have enough money under the cap to get a (SF) like Dorell Wright.
    what cha think???

    • Laugh track on Bynum and his lil Richard hairstyle if healthy he’s one of best centers but knee is a big concern.

  3. just as long as his annual freebie doesn’t involve any of my girlfriends I’m cool with bringing this comrade in.

  4. Like ak’s game a lot but don’t really think he is where we want to commit all our financial resources.
    Def agree that age for our next signings is not a factor, we don’t need everyone on our team to be 22. Nothing wrong with the complementary pieces being “seasoned ” . In fact, that’s probably to our advantage

    • Houpgarou Amen, Houpgraou.
      There would still be some flex w/ Lopez and if we could unload Gordon. Always flexibility for any team w/out bad deals

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