Asked by reporters who Andrei Kirilenko’s skill set reminded him of, Kidd said LeBron James, according to ESPN New York’s Mike Mazzeo:
I mean, LeBron James. And I’m not putting AK in [LeBron's class in terms of talent], but when you talk about guys who fill up the stat sheet, that’s what he does and that’s what he’s always done. From rebounding to assists, points, steals, blocked shots, he’s done it all. That’s the kind of skill set he brings.
You know, I can kind of see what Kidd is talking about. And I’d agree with him, if only LeBron had blonde hair, a tattoo tribute to World of Warcraft on his back and wasn’t even close to the greatest player in the NBA.
So, to sum up, I don’t see what he’s talking about. At all.
For his career, AK47 is averaging 12.4 points, 5.6 rebounds, 2.8 assists, 1.4 steals and 1.9 blocks per game. Impressive? Yes. And I see the value in calling him the NBA’s version of a five-tool player. But the LeBron tidbit was a bit much.
Even if Kidd were talking about pre-2013 LeBron, who wasn’t a three-point assassin, the Brooklyn Nets’ head coach is reaching. What makes LeBron so valuable, more so than even his defense, is the fact that he’s a point forward. He can run an entire offense; he does run an entire offense. Kirilenko can’t do that, nor has he come close. Those 2.8 dimes of his pale in comparison to The Chosen One’s 6.9.
Defensively, the two are of a different breed as well. Kirilenko is a talented swingman who can guard most of the positions on the floor, but he can’t defend every single one of them. Not like LeBron, who can guard point guard through center. I sincerely doubt the lanky AK47 could hold up against a center over the course of an entire game. Against traditional power forwards, I’d have my doubts as well.
Luckily, neither I nor you are stupid. I think. We get Kidd’s point; we understand what he is trying to say: Kirilenko is good.
Next time, however, he would be better off running with a different comparison, just to cover his buttocks. What he really wants to do is compare Kirilenko to a strong perimeter defender who can also rebound and, at times, score.
Forced to choose, I’d say someone like
Kevin Durant Kawhi Leonard. And that’s only now, two years into Leonard’s career. It will soon become an outdated comparison once Leonard develops into a star. Plus, you know, Kawhi can shoot the three, something Kirilenko has never been known for. So maybe that wasn’t the best comparison. But who cares, it’s better than the LeBron one. I also didn’t want to insult AK47 by running with Michael Kidd-Gilchrist.
Struggle for adequate comparison’s aside, remember that Kirilenko is good. Also remember he isn’t LeBron. Or Leonard, for that matter.
Dan Favale is a firm believer in the three-pointer as well as the notion that defense doesn’t always win championships. His musings can be found at Bleacherreport.com in addition to TheHoopDoctors.com. Follow @danfavale on Twitter for his latest posts and all things NBA.