Yesterday we linked you to Part 1 of SI.com's list of the Top 100 Players in 2014 by Ben Golliver and Rob Mahoney, noting that Joe Johnson was the first of the Brooklyn Nets to check in (No.59). And well, I have to say, before we get started in Part II; my bad.
In that piece I mentioned how the Nets are expected to have all five starters in the Top 60, but noted that an Andrei Kirilenko slight was probably not warranted. Well, I was right, by being wrong of course.
In Part II, Kirileko comes in at No. 49 on Golliver and Mahoney's list, which is certainly well deserved, considering how AK-47 will likely play a major role this season for this Nets team, even if he comes off the bench.
Kirilenko is so active as to border on omnipresent. On defense, his movement and hyper-awareness manifest as a constant influence; his long arms threaten to deflect passes or rush shot attempts; his edging toward the ball shrinks the opponent’s gateway into the paint; and his knack for sniffing out play actions makes him a threat to apply pressure at any juncture. He’s not just a threat to lock down a single scorer, but also an all-around defensive talent whose skills translate in amazingly broad fashion.
And that's exactly why the Nets signed him, for what he brings to this team as an active defender.
The other Net to make the list today -- they counted down from 50 to 30 -- was Paul Pierce, who checked in at No. 32.
On Pierce, Mahoney writes:
The Truth endures. For all the talk of how Pierce had taken a step back last season, the final balance reflected a productive, high-usage creator who more than held his own defensively. Pierce is no longer suited to handle the rigors of being a team’s first option on offense, but he’s closer to stardom than irrelevance despite his age-related slip. In fact, the only players to meet Pierce’s per-game averages in points, rebounds and assists last season were LeBron James and Kevin Durant. Pierce obviously doesn’t come anywhere near those two in overall value or scoring efficiency, but his vague statistical proximity demonstrates his special value as an all-around player.
Those are stats that we at NetsDaily (namely, NetIncome) have been boasting all summer long, to help put an end to the "Pierce is done" nonsense. No, he's not LeBron or Durant, but he's also not "done."
- Top 100 NBA players of 2013-14: Nos. 50-31 | The Point Forward - Ben Golliver and Rob Mahoney - SI.com