INBOX: Wolves Reportedly Pursuing AK-47

Andy G: According to Jerry Zgoda and other sources, the Wolves are hotly pursuing former Jazz (what are you supposed to call a Utah Jazz member?), Andrei Kirilenko, willing to give away Wes Johnson and a future first rounder to clear space for a large Kahntract; something in the neighborhood of two years, $18 Million.

How do we feel about this one?

Patrick J: We (royal we!) aren’t too excited. The fact that AK hasn’t averaged more than 11 ppg since 2005-06 isn’t helping. Neither is the thought of giving him a 2-year, 18 million dollar Kahntract. I guess he’d give the Wolves a nice defensive presence at SF, but we’d still be lacking a shooter at that position. Given that we don’t know how much Brandon Roy will be able to play or whether Alexey Shved will be able to consistently drain treys, I’m not liking our perimeter offense much outside of K-Love if AK would be expected to play most of the minutes at SF. The possibility of signing AK to this deal makes the Batum Kahntract look all that much more attractive. But at least there’d be addition by subtraction in dealing Johnson. Am I off on this one?

Andy G: You’ve definitely spotted the concern with AK-47, which is that he’s a rotten three-point shooter.  He’s the worst combination of low percentage and low frequency. (Career percentage of 31.2 on just 1.8 attempts per 36 minutes.)  These are not the makings of an ideal wing paired with Ricky Rubio.

WITH THAT SAID, he ranks out well in advanced metrics (see the recent post at Canis Hoopus by stats guru vjl110) and has consistently been a high-assist player for his forward position. (Career average of 3.3 assists per 36 minutes.)  Also, consider that AK has played 9.5 of his 10 NBA Seasons for the legendary Jerry Sloan.  Coach Sloan’s famed flex offense is unlike most others in the NBA, but has requirements of wings and posts that overlap with what some of Rick Adelman’s teams have used with success.  Kevin Arnovitz described it well in a piece about Al Jefferson’s transition from Timberwolf to Jazz, back in 2010:

But in Salt Lake, the role of the center is vastly different. The flex offense abhors stasis, even for a specialist like Jefferson who has traditionally been a creature of habit at his preferred spot on the floor. Big men are asked to be offensive generalists who remain in constant motion. They must be playmakers, shooters and screeners. More than anything, they need to be able to make reads. For instance, a help defender’s choice might trigger a hard cut by a player in Jefferson’s position — and the system succeeds and fails on that player’s ability to recognize the call instantly.

After the AK story broke, we had a comment on the “Searching for Princeton” post go up that speaks to this acquisition and the recent others, such as Chase Budinger and Alexey Shved, and how the moves might be made with an eye toward building the offense that Adelman made NBA-famous in Sacramento.  Commenter Richard Bentley writes:

This was written a while ago, but you notice that the deals that have been done (and the possible addition of Kirilenko) for the most part are wings and guards who can move without the ball, pass it, and cut. So hopefully (at least for me), we will see more of the Princeton mixed in with Love being told point blank to position himself for it and pass. He was told by Adelman in the beginning that points lower ok, rebounds lower ok, but assists should go up and up. Love concurred, but things got fouled up by the lockout, and lack of preseason.

If you consider that Michael Beasley and Anthony Randolph, two notorious ball-stoppers, were let go, and that the likely replacements (Budinger, Kirilenko) have experience in ball-movement offenses (Budinger in Adelman’s system) it isn’t reaching to suspect that Princeton is coming.  Adelman’s first season here was lockout-shortened, which by his own admission prevented installation of his preferred system.  But when Brad Miller, another ADELMAN GUY, checked into games, you saw flashes.  Perhaps these moves, Kirilenko being the latest, will help Coach Adelman implement his offense.



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3 responses to “INBOX: Wolves Reportedly Pursuing AK-47

  1. Richard Bentley

    I know it’s a lot of money, but Kirilenko is a unique player. He is a defensive plus who really plays as a point forward. He’s going to be in an offense that fits him to a tee; and Adelman is the type of coach who players really put out for. I loved Jerry Sloan, but he sometimes got into it too much with some of his players. Adelman, for all his directness, seems to be much smoother at getting into a player’s head and tuning him in. This is a major coup for the Wolves, and if nothing else, we are going to see a really flashy offense with a much improved defense this season. I hope Ricky comes back sooner than later.

    • Richard,
      Good points and I hope you didn’t mind my quoting your comment. It seemed on-point to the discussion. I hope the addition of AK-47 and other passer/cutter types will help form a functional and fluid offense. As you say, he should also help on the defensive end; something we didn’t really discuss in the post.

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