The gist: Andrei Kirilenko is one of the most versatile players the NBA has ever seen. In his heyday, the 6-foot-9, 220 lb. Russian sensation popularized the 5×5, accumulating at least 5 points, 5 rebounds, 5 assists, 5 steals and 5 blocks over a handful of times. His unique combination of exquisite passing, ball-handling, finishing and shot-blocking skills make him a difficult match-up at either forward position and a valuable commodity in the right system. He’s been a staple in Utah over the past 10 years, but it seems it’s time for a change.
The case for: AK47 was arguably a top-10 small forward last season, ranking in the top-10 at the position in PER, APER, Win Shares, assist rate, offensive rebound rate, free throw rate, and shooting from 10-15 feet (a clear sign of his multifaceted skill-set). On the Clippers, he’d serve as a solid fourth offensive option, capable of running the offense in spurts, creating shots for others and taking some pressure off of Blake Griffin and Eric Gordon. Defensively, he’s still in the conversation for tops at his position (he held small forwards to 12.2 PER last season), as his Mr. Fantastic wingspan leads to a ludicrous amount of blocks, steals, altered shots and deflections.
The case against: He’s 30 years old and has been on the decline for a few years now (plus he’s never, ever healthy). Kirilenko’s actually much better playing the power forward position (his PER rises from 17.2 to 18.6), a position that the Clippers clearly have covered with Griffin (although Kirilenko would be a stellar back-up). One of the Clippers’ main offensive needs is consistent spot-up shooting, mainly in the form of 3-pointers, a role that Kirilenko clearly doesn’t fit (career .312 3-point shooter). There’s also the question of cost, as Kirilenko made an absurd $17.8 million last year, and will likely be looking for above the midlevel exception to finish off his NBA career.
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