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Checklist for Andrei Kirilenko to Thrive as Brooklyn Nets' Super Sub

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Checklist for Andrei Kirilenko to Thrive as Brooklyn Nets' Super Sub

Andrei Kirilenko should thrive off the bench for the Brooklyn Nets, but in order to be labeled as their super sub, he'll need to complete the checklist below.

 

Remain Healthy

Kirilenko hasn't played at least 70 games since the 2007-08 season with the Utah Jazz when he missed only 10 games.

In his past two NBA seasons (omitting his time in Russia with CSKA Moscow during 2011-12), Kirilenko has played in exactly 64 games for Utah and the Minnesota Timberwolves.

If he's able to replicate and build on last season's game total—considering the Nets intend to play until the very last game of the playoffs—Kirilenko will provide the intangibles that once made him a 5x5 player. 

A 5x5 (at least five points, rebounds, assists, blocks and steals in a game) is a rare accomplishment, and Kirilenko had three in his prime days with the Jazz—the last being against the Los Angeles Lakers on January 3, 2006.

Highlights of Kirilenko's 5x5 against the Lakers.

 

Block Shots

It isn't fair to expect Kirilenko to deliver a five-block performance at this stage in his career, but with fresh legs off the bench, he should be able to use his long arms and high basketball IQ to average over one block a game. 

Last season, he blocked four shots twice for the T'Wolves, back in November against the Nets and the Golden State Warriors. His legs were explosive that month, compiling 24 blocks in 13 games and averaging over 36 minutes per game. 

As the minutes piled on, however, Kirilenko blocked fewer and fewer shots.

Barring any severe injuries, thanks to Brooklyn's depth, Kirilenko shouldn't have to log over 35 minutes per game.

With less wear on his legs, he should swat shots at a higher rate than his career low of one a game last year. 

Andrei Kirilenko dishes a beautiful dime.

 

Create Easy Looks

With Deron Williams on the team, Kirilenko won't need to initiate the offense on every possession, but his ability to find cutters and the open man when slashing to the basket will be a huge asset off the bench for Brooklyn. 

According to Glen Taylor, per MinnPost, majority owner of the Timberwolves, head coach Rick Adelman pushed heavily for Minnesota to sign Andrei Kirilenko in 2012 because: "He never talks about scoring, he talks about passing and he talks about defense."

Kirilenko averaged 2.8 assists a game throughout 2012-13, dishing out four or more 21 times in the 64 games he played. 

If he could carry that rate over into the 2013-14 season and raise it slightly, the offense will run smoothly with Kirilenko on the court, regardless of the point guard present. 

 

Force Turnovers and Difficult Shots

Throughout his career, Andrei Kirilenko has been known as a solid defender. In this upcoming season, Kirilenko will need to carry that reputation further. 

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It is very likely Kirilenko finds himself matched up with the opponent's best player when on the court for Brooklyn, and he will need to make life miserable for whoever he is guarding. 

With long arms, quick hands and keen reflexes, Kirilenko is a pest in passing lanes and on the ball. Last season he pilfered the ball at least twice 32 times

The Nets will need him to stay in line with his career average of 1.4 steals a game, as well as deflect passes and alter shots with his tremendous wingspan. 

If he does his job, the Nets will have more fast breaks initiated and Kirilenko and his teammates will have plenty of chances to finish at the rim.

 

Hustle After Loose Balls 

Christian Petersen/Getty Images
Andrei Kirilenko dives after the loose ball in London, 2012.

When Andrei Kirilenko is on the court, every loose ball will have to find its way into his hands. 

Somebody needs to do the dirty work, and although the Nets have guys like Reggie Evans and Andray Blatche that love getting their hands dirty, their reflexes and will are outmatched by Kirilenko. 

Evans and Blatche both play with lots of energy and are solid rebounders, Evans being the better of the two, but both should miss out on grabbing boards and loose balls because of Kirilenko's eye and hunger for the ball. 

Regardless of the score of the game, Kirilenko delivers every ounce of energy he possesses into every play he makes. If he sees a chance to soar through the air and grab a rebound, or dive after a loose ball rolling toward the sideline, he'll do it and those will be the plays that help Brooklyn rise to the top of the NBA. 

If Andrei Kirilenko completes each of these prerequisites, he'll be the Nets' super sub and a strong candidate for the Sixth Man of the Year Award. 

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