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Friday the Timberwolves finally got Andrei Kirilenko in for his introduction. I feel like in the past month since he’s actually signed, I’ve written on him three times, not including this one. Not just a press conference, Kirilenko did a one-on-one with Timberwolves.com’s Mark Remme and a Google+ Hangout afterwards with fans that are both worth your time. Here are some things that I took away from the content:
- The biggest factors to Kirilenko seemed to be Rick Adelman, Kevin Love, and Alexey Shved. In fact, Kirilenko raved about Adelman, and talked about how players respect him league-wide. The admiration is real, and Adelman is no doubt a positive for players weighing an offer from the Timberwolves.
- Andrei seems to be a pretty funny guy. When asked about having Shved here Kirilenko said, “He’s gonna make donuts. He’s gonna bring donuts. He’s gonna do some stuff.’ I couldn’t tell what the rest of the story was, but it seems he was referring to some rookie hazing ritual from his Jazz days. Speaking of Shved…
- …the mentor thing kept coming up. It’s kind of a talking point that some enjoy, but I tend to shy away from. Kirilenko told him to just play like himself and not worry and be fine. It also sounds like he’s going to help Shved with his English. Kahn told an amusing story to kick things off how being the oldest (Kirilenko is a few days younger than Luke Ridnour, but has more NBA experience) player on the roster entitled him to being the last one to come to camp.
- Don’t take that entitlement thing the wrong way, though. Kirilenko seems to be very invested in the team. When asked in the Hangout what the biggest thing he could contribute to a young team, he said helping Rick Adelman get the players to learn to play team defense and help them develop chemistry defensively, too. Kirilenko went on to stress that, even with a player of his defensive reputation, it takes more than one player to guard the Kobes and LeBrons of the league- it takes a team. He also added that he can see himself guarding 2’s-4’s; players from Kobe to Garnett.
- Andrei said that he plans to hit up the Walker Art Center and guided tours (ok), but not the MOA because his kids may like it more since they’re apparently Spongebob fans.
- Timberwolves fans began treading some seriously dangerous water asking if there are any parallels between playing with Stockton/Malone/Sloan and getting to play with Rubio/Love/Adelman. It was pretty funny how uncomfortable he got with those questions and tried to avoid saying something absurd, which he did pretty well. CALM DOWN PEOPLE.
All-in-all, there was a lot of good stuff to take away from the presser, but there was one thing nobody mentioned about Kirilenko’s game that could help the Timberwolves, and that’s his passing. It blows my mind that anyone who has watched Kirilenko didn’t bring up how his passing will open up shots for perimeter players like Brandon Roy and Chase Budinger as well as post guys like Nikola Pekovic. Especially once Rubio gets back, this team is going to be so fun to watch, and it’s going to be good team basketball. Watch the videos below and observe his passing skills.
Here, note the passes at :37; :54; 1:21; 1:51; 2:34; 2:49; 3:00 (If you blink, you’ll miss it.)
And here. Look at :14; :36 (THROUGH CHRIS BOSH’S LEGS!!!); 1:03; 1:22; 1:42; 2:03; 2:20; 3:04.
See?! How could you not mention his passing ability? Yes, he’ll help improve the team defense and defensive chemistry, but he’s also going to help the offense flow, and help create open looks for teammates. He’s more than just pretty chase-down blocks, after all, and knows exactly where his teammates are on the court (read: Awareness (n): trait of a smart player). Just wait until he gets a training camp and preseason in with his new teammates, and builds that chemistry; then we’re really going to have fun.