There are few people that would call AK’s offseason transformation anything but astounding, but even more amazing is the miracle of modern technology that helped him get there. Andrei, with his loyal Masha at his side, returned to Moscow and began his preparation for the upcoming season with a stoic resolve to take the Jazz front office’s advice and add weight to complement his height and athletic ability. So, the Jazz’s highest paid player hired the most brilliant minds in Russia and the final result speaks for itself….. What? Why does this sound so familiar? I can’t quite….
"I must stretch you"
Dude, Andrei looks *&%$ ripped, bro! Look at those guns! Seriously. Look at them. During his end of the season interview with Jazz Brass, AK was again asked to bulk up during the offseason, and this time he listened. He arrived for media day looking noticeably bigger and weighed in at 245- that’s an honest 20lbs larger than he was all last year. The Jazz hope that the increased mass will translate into a tougher defender, a better rebounder, and a longer big to clog up the paint. With that, here is a list of things to look for when you watch the Jazz games this year:
Will the added weight slow him down?
So far AK has said that he feels just as fast as he was when he was lighter. This means there should be little affect on his man to man defense.
Will AK see time at PF?
A few weeks ago this seemed like it could be likely in certain lineups. However, with the injuries and subsequent surgeries that CJ Miles and Kyle Korver have undergone the Jazz are very thin at the wings, a role that AK must continue to embrace.
How is his shooting?
Judging from the preseason and the first regular season games, he seems to be shooting the ball with great confidence. Last night, at Denver, he shot 50% FG and 50% 3pt, but more importantly his shot looked very fluid. The Hornacek magic is still working.
What can we expect from AK?
Who the hell knows? One can only speculate on which AK will show up on any given night, and this is precisely what makes the Jazz so hard to peg. When AK is playing at his best he stuffs a stat sheet like so many Thanksgiving turkeys, when he’s not well, we’ve seen what that looks like.
How will the Jazz do this season?
How will AK do this season? They are one in the same. AK has gotten the proverbial "free pass" from Jazz fans more than any other player. Astoundingly, AK is largely immune to the sort of abuse that other players face when they under perform (ex: Boozer), but the reason is simple, when you think about it. As AK goes, so go the Jazz. No other player affects the whole team the way AK does. He’s the great variable in the equation to figure out where the Jazz stand in comparison to the powerhouses of the league. It’s impossible to tell, just ask John Hollinger. Because he is so important he is almost untouchable. It’s the reason he hasn’t been dealt a dozen times- there’s still that chance that he will be the former All-Star. So, here we are at the dawn of the new season in hopeless anticipation of how our team’s season will play out and how our favorite gangly (er… solid), Russian, underachieving, prodigy will contribute to it.