Where to begin with A.K.?
I wrote this player review twice, one bashing him and one praising him, so I decided to go somewhere in the middle. At times this season he was brilliant, a game changer who could make the defensive plays we needed in crunch time. At times he was bad, turning the ball over too much and trying too hard. In essence, he defined what this season was all about for the Jazz, wild inconsistency.
This season Andrei moved, without complaint, to the bench and some nights really got our second unit going. He brought leadership and play making ability which was sorely lacking from our bench. A.K., when he is on, does such a great job getting to the basket and getting fouled or dumping in the lane to Millsap that when he isn’t doing it our bench often had no answers. When he took the floor our defense also improved considerably. A.K. is one of the best help defenders in the league and he seemed to change of the mindset of the team. The Jazz usually play more actively when A.K. is on the floor.
He had a strong mid season. He had double digit points in 13 of 14 games in late December mid-January and lead the team in rebounding four times. He got injured in January against Minnesota and never looked the same after coming back even dropping ten pounds (anyone know what this was about?) as the Jazz collapsed like bridge made of straws.
The man makes $15 million this year and gave us averages of 11.6 points, 2.6 assists, 4.8 rebounds and 1.15 blocks per game this season. This means that Jazz paid $19,329 per point scored or you could say $159,067 per block this season. By comparison Ronnie Brewer made just under $2 million this season and chipped in 13.7 points per game and 3.7 rebounds per game costing the Jazz a measly $1,800 per point. Compare A.K. to a similar player like Josh Smith even and his numbers are still lower, but he makes $5 million more than Smith did this season.
I understand that this is a simplistic (and flawed) view of basketball and I know A.K. brings a lot to the court. I love A.K. when he is in the flow of the game and getting to the rim, blocking shots, and moving the basketball, but other nights he jacks up bad outside shots, dishes out really bad behind the back passes or is practically invisible on the court. On these bad nights, you just have to wonder if paying $15 million shouldn’t get you a little more consistency.
We all remember the bad years where he was the only bright spot on a terrible team. Arroyo and Lopez running the point while possession after possession bogged down, bad character guys like Deshawn Stevenson jacking up bad shots. It was terrible. The only positive thing was A.K. He hustled, made the right plays, played lock down defense if we needed him to. He seemed to love playing for us and we loved him right back.
When A.K. plays like this his contract starts to feel justified. You root for him. You turn to your friends and say "Man, I love A.K.!" He seems to be everywhere on the court and you find yourself thinking how much he means to this team. Then the next night he is replaced by Bizzaro-Kirilenko. After his third turnover by a pass straight into Millsap’s knee or a badly thrown ally-oop your friend looks at you and says "What the Hell is Andrei doing?" It makes you start to wonder if you should be mad at him, especially after the crying and whining during the Houston series two years ago. This is the guy we signed to a max contract? It seems like a bank robbery or maybe he was replaced by one of the lizard people living under the Great Salt Lake.
As I said I love A.K. sometimes and I hate him sometimes, but there is no question his contract is killing us. He doesn’t deserve $17 million next season and if Boozer doesn’t leave then we could be in a real bind. I think Andrei should donate $7 million to Millsap next year to make sure Paul sticks around.