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Free Agency 2012: If Andrei Kirilenko returns to the NBA, even at his worst, he'll be in legendary company

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Remember a few weeks ago how I wrote about Utah Jazz Forward Gordon Hayward, and how AMAZING it was that he played so many minutes? It wasn't amazing because it was abnormally high for the NBA. It wasn't amazing because it was because he was a younger player. It was abnormal because it was a younger player playing a lot of minutes on the Jazz. Hayward, for all his faults, is amazing right now on the Jazz.

Andrei Kirilenko is amazing, period.

Andrei is, at the NBA level (this doesn't include all his international stats) on the precipice of joining a super elite club - a club of players who have at least 4000 rebounds, 2000 assists, 1000 steals, and 1000 blocks. There are only 14 players ALL-TIME who have done it. Andrei, if he returns and plays one season in the NBA, will be the 15th.

The 4000/2000/1000/1000 Club:

We look at points. We look at assists. We look at rebounds. And we look at championships. There's more to winning than just points, assists, and rebounds. It's easy to overlook the guys who help you win - but don't dominate the boxscore in the ways we're conditioned to read them. Though, the people in this club are all dominant players (or guys who played very long). Some of them are overt Hall of Famers, while others always helped their team win. This is a group of guys - some overrated, and some under - who you'd always want to have on your team.

Over the course of their careers they also put up a lot of numbers. Some of the star players were great scorers who chipped in elsewhere; while some of the role players did a lot of different things. In fact, you clearly see this in this elite group of 14 players -- half of them are in the Hall of Fame, and half of them are exactly the type of guy you would find being a key rotation guy on a legit contender. Let's look at the numbers, and see where Andrei is.



The numbers:

The 4000 rebounds, 2000 assists, 1000 steals, 1000 blocks Club
Player Games Rebounds Assists Steals Blocks
Robert Parish 1,611 . 14,715 2,180 1,219 2,361
Kareem Abdul-Jabbar 1,560 . 17,440 5,660 1,160 3,189
Karl Malone 1,476 . 14,968 5,248 2,085 1,145
Hakeem Olajuwon 1,238 . 13,748 3,058 2,162 3,830
Clifford Robinson 1,380 . 6,306 3,094 1,402 1,390
Patrick Ewing 1,183 . 11,607 2,215 1,136 2,894
Kevin Garnett 1,255 . 10,302 5,065 1,664 1,908
Horace Grant 1,165 . 9,443 2,575 1,143 1,136
Vlade Divac 1,134 . 9,326 3,541 1,288 1,631
Julius Erving 836 . 5,601 3,224 1,508 1,293
Robert Horry 1,107 . 5,269 2,343 1,158 1,035
Chris Webber 831 . 8,124 3,526 1,197 1,200
David Robinson 987 . 10,497 2,441 1,388 2,954
Jack Sikma 1,107 . 10,816 3,488 1,162 1,048
Average (career): 1,205 . 10,583 3,404 1,405 1,930
Average (per game): 8.8 2.8 1.2 1.6
Andrei Kirilenko 681 . 3,836 1,919 960 1,380
Andrei's Avg (per game): 5.6 2.8 1.4 2.0
Needs to join club: 164 81 40 -380

Yeah, some of these guys played a looo-oong time. Andrei's numbers would just be the bare minimum to make this club, but as you can see he needs only 164 rebounds, 81 assists, and 40 steals to do this. If Andrei plays only 40 more NBA games in his career he'll just need to average 4.1 rpg, 2.0 apg, and 1.0 spg to make it, as he already has more than enough blocks to spare. Yes, he'll make it, and his numbers will be the bare minimum . . . but he would have done it, again if he only plays 40 more games, in 721 games. Robert Parish played in almost 1000 more games and would only have 200ish more steals than Andrei.

The point is that while some guys in this group were known for mainly one thing (Parish for defense and rebounding), AK's absurd versatility puts him in elite company, which he'll join in only 11 seasons. The average for this group is 17 seasons in the NBA. If Andrei plays a few more seasons in America his numbers aren't going to look like bare minimums either. And he'll be part of even more exclusive clubs like the 2000 steals / 2000 blocks club, etc.



Deeper look at Club Members:

The 4000 rebounds, 2000 assists, 1000 steals, 1000 blocks Club
Player Seasons All-Star All-NBA Champs HOF
Robert Parish 21 9 2 4 1
Kareem Abdul-Jabbar 20 19 15 6 1
Karl Malone 19 14 14 1
Hakeem Olajuwon 18 12 12 2 1
Clifford Robinson 18 1
Patrick Ewing 17 11 7 1
Kevin Garnett 17 14 9 1
Horace Grant 17 1 4
Vlade Divac 16 1
Julius Erving 16 16 12 3 1
Robert Horry 16 7
Chris Webber 15 5 5
David Robinson 14 10 10 2 1
Jack Sikma 14 7 1
Average: 17.0 8.6 6.1 2.1 0.5
Andrei Kirilenko 10 1

Really, this is ridiculous company for Andrei to be in. No one thinks Andrei is good enough to be with these guys -- but hey, the stats show that he is. That is a huge deal, we undervalue versatility in favor of dominant specialists. That's why a guy who scored and rebounded like Carlos Boozer was promoted like crazy by the Jazz and the NBA. Or why a bigman who could shoot from deep was a guy in our "Big 3" but not Andrei. (And I love Memo, but Andrei was better) Andrei's unconventional game got numbers, and always helped his team win.

It kills me to say this, but he's the PERFECT guy to go onto one of the few championship contenders right now that would put them over the edge - a team that isn't our team right now. Coming off the bench in Miami, or OKC, or even the Clippers? Wow. He'd rack up a few of those 'rings as a role player' quickly.

As an aside, I think Kevin, Chris, Vlade (because Euros have different rules to get in) will all be HOF players in the future, adding to the list of how elite this group is. Andrei has a chance as well if he was able to win another few Euro tournaments for Russia, and win an NBA title.



Back to Andrei and his numbers:

This isn't about numbers, this is about doing things on the court that helps your team in games -- that's just what the numbers represent. And by those metrics, let's look at what the average player from the current 14 man club does compared to what AK-47 has done in his NBA career:

The 4000 rebounds, 2000 assists, 1000 steals, 1000 blocks Club
Player Games Rebounds Assists Steals Blocks
14 Man per game Avg: 1 8.8 2.8 1.2 1.6
Andrei's per game Avg: 1 5.6 2.8 1.4 2.0

Yeah, aside from being pushed out of the paint for a few years, he still is right there, but lower in boards. (Thanks Carlos!) So Andrei has all world versatility. I know we all love Gordon Hayward sooooooooooooo much right now, and while Hayward is amazing for a Jazz player -- Andrei was and is amazing as a basketball player whose numbers are right up there with Hall of Famers.

Especially if he plays more than 40 games next year.