No one talks much about it, but the Nets' off-season had a subtext to it: matching up against the Heat. With Miami vulnerable to big teams, the Nets got taller and deeper upfront, even adding Mason Plumlee after getting an agreement from Kevin Garnett. While everyone focuses on HOW the Nets got Andrei Kirilenko, the reason WHY they got him deserves more attention.
Coach Nick of SB Nation breaks down the five players who could qualify as "LeBron stoppers." Along with Andre Iguodala, Kawhi Leonard, Paul George and Jimmy Butler, he sees AK-47 as someone with the physical skills to slow LeBron.
In the past when Kirilenko played with better defensive teams, we've seen him cause many problems for LeBron. It should be no different with his new team in Brooklyn. Kirilenko's long arms allow him to give LeBron four or five feet of space while still being able to pressure his shot. That said, letting LeBron roam free without a body on him is often times a recipe for disaster.
Kirilenko does have the perfect size and length to guard LeBron in the post and it does seem to make LeBron a little more reluctant to try to get closer to the basket with the good move instead settling for outside jumpers and passing off to his teammates.
At first glance, it looks like Kirilenko would be a great bet to stop LeBron.
Coach Nick notes that in the one match-up last year, AK-47 did "significant effect" on James' shooting percentages.
In an interview with a Russian sports site last season, Kirilenko said, "It is not a challenge, but a mini-duel, without any doubt."