Andrei Kirilenko Makes Too Much Sense for the Oklahoma City Thunder

By Ryan Heckman


Mark D. Smith-USA TODAY Sports

After losing out on shooting guard Kevin Martin to the Minnesota Timberwolves, it is clear the Oklahoma City Thunder must bring in another guy to help their road to a championship in 2013. What the Thunder may not realize, however, is that they do not need another scorer. In fact, quite the contrary.

When the Wolves saw forward Andrei Kirilenko take off into the free agent market, they had some extra cash to work with, but believe me they are sorely going to miss him. To this day, he still hasn’t been picked up. Why not the Thunder?

At this point, Kirilenko would have a tough time starting on most rosters. But, because of his ability to defend the perimeter against some of the league’s top players, the Thunder would be wise to go after him.

Kevin Durant is a phenomenal athlete and one of the best players in all of the NBA, but his defense could use a little work. That being pretty obvious, bringing in Kirilenko would give the Thunder a nice change of pace guy off the bench who can do a lot of the little things that many on the team can’t do.

Kirilenko is of course a defender first. But, that entails a lot of things. Not only can he defend well, he defends the basket and gets rebounds. He can steal the ball at an effective rate still, averaging 1.5 per game last year in Minnesota.

The great thing about the veteran small forward is that he is an all-around player and Oklahoma City could really use that. On top of being a top-tier defender, he can still shoot the ball efficiently. Last season with the Wolves he finished at 50.7 percent shooting from the field, averaging 12.4 points per game.

With the Thunder’s hopes real high this season, they are going to have to fill in the roster with at least one or two more veteran players. With the cap space freed up from Martin, Kirilenko would be worth a look. He would only improve the roster in almost every way. What Thunder fan would say no to that?

Ryan Heckman is a Senior NBA Writer for Follow him on Twitter  @ryanmheckman, “Like” him on Facebook or add him to your network on Google.

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