14 October 2008

AK-47's role for the 2007-2008 Jazz

From Ross Siler of the Salt Lake Tribune Jazz blog:

The big story from the Jazz's perspective was Andrei Kirilenko's play off the bench. Even with Carlos Boozer back, Jazz coach Jerry Sloan opted to start C.J. Miles and have Kirilenko serve as the team's sixth man.

I wouldn't read too much into plus/minus in the preseason, when the lineups on the floor are unconventional to say the least, but Kirilenko's numbers were darn impressive.The Jazz outscored Portland 52-39 in the 24:31 Kirilenko played Sunday.
They were especially strong when it came to closing out quarters.

The Jazz outscored Portland 10-6 to end the first after Kirilenko checked in with
4:34 left and 10-2 in the third quarter after Kirilenko checked in with 1:52

Kirilenko was all the difference in the first quarter - - he factored into all five of the Jazz's scoring possessions - - and came along for the ride in the third - - when Kyle Korver's three-pointer and Deron Williams three-point play drove the Jazz.

The biggest thing that can be said about Kirilenko was he even made Kyrylo Fesenko look good. Fesenko and Kirilenko have lockers next to each other and Kirilenko made a point of looking for Fesenko whenever he drove the lane.

Fesenko had a 10-point, 10-rebound performance, which Sloan said afterward was the game of his life. Another interesting thing was how much Kirilenko's postgame comments suggested that he was truly thinking about the game as he sat on the bench.

Kirilenko said he wanted to spark the Jazz in the first quarter by getting inside and trying to throw some quick passes around the basket. He also talked to Brevin Knight about taking advantage of the Blazers' overplaying defense and got two backdoor alley-oop dunks.

There's still four preseason games left, but I think Kirilenko is destined to start the season as the Jazz's sixth man.

I love this idea. If we've learned anything about Andrei during his career in Utah, it's that he loves being important to the offense, and when he is, he plays better on the defensive side of the floor as well.

See the 2004-2005 season. Andrei was the man for the Jazz, and he put up great numbers: 15 ppg, 6 rpg, 1.6 spg, 3.3 bpg and 49% shooting from the field.

Since that season, he's tailed off every year, it seems. What changed? Deron was drafted in 2005, and starting then, the Jazz slowly became his team. And with the additions of Boozer and Okur, AK was asked to do it all on the defensive end and mostly keep out of the way on offense.

This makes Andrei feel unwanted and unmotivated. I don't believe he's lost any of the ability he showed in 2004; he always plays very well for the Russian national team... which is a situation where he feels important.

Andrei started every game last season, and while he played pretty well, he's still not an important part of the offense.

But this season, if we give him the keys to the second offense, I can see good things happening. Last season, I always worried when Deron came out, because it seemed that that was when opposing teams made their run.

So instead of running the offense through Ronnie Price or Brevin Knight (though my judgment on Knight is pending), run it through Andrei. Let him bring the ball up the floor. Give it to him in the post. Tell him its his responsibility to get the team performing at a high level whenever he's on the court.

That'd get his competitive spirit up, and I think we'd see Andrei of old return to the offensive and defensive ends of the floor, getting involved on seemingly every play, making opposing players fear him on defense.

I'd like to see that.

Second team:

Let me know what you think.


Stu said...

Manu has proven that a good sixth man can make a world of difference to a team.

It's just hard to think that the Jazz would be paying AK so much money to not start him. Not to mention how long will (would?) he be willing to go along with it?

LaPaube said...

AK with the second unit makes sense, although it leaves the first unit without a shot blocker. But running the offense through him? Not the way that I think of it. Posting him up often would make sense, but remember that Knight is good with assists, no good shooting the ball. If you're talking about Kirilenko bringing the ball up and keying the whole possession, I don't think that makes sense. It makes Knight a dead weight out there, when he could be a positive. Knight getting the ball to AK in the post as often as possible, to look to shoot or pass, is a good idea.

Nick said...

Yeah that is a good idea. It will make the Jazz better. Kirilenko was an idiot last year and I think it's great {for you guys, just kidding} that he wants to help out his newer teammates.

But, I think Kirilenko should just kill people on defense like he did back in 04-05, even though they told him not to play much offense. He blocked a ton of shots. He was amazing. Well, the offensive side was pretty good, too. But the best thing he's good at is shot blocking.

Brandon said...

I agree that it's kinda hard to deal with Andrei getting paid the max to come off the bench, but like you said, Manu does it very well. And I think AK would enjoy the prospect of leading a team, even the second team.

And G: fair enough. Bottom line, Andrei needs touches to be effective out there. If Knight can get him those, everything will work.