In our most recent poll, we asked our viewers here at Timberpups which offseason addition will make the biggest impact this season. 90 of you cast your vote over approximately the past month or so, and the poll results are as follows:
Andrei Kirilenko: 40 votes (44%)
Brandon Roy: 24 votes (27%)
Alexey Shved: 10 votes (11%)
Chase Budinger: 8 votes (9%)
Dante Cunningham: 8 votes (9%)
Greg Stiemsma: 0 votes
I believe that our readers were right on in choosing Andrei Kirilenko, especially when considering the recent loss of Kevin Love due to a broken wrist. AK-47 will eat up the majority of the minutes inherited to him following the departure of Wes Johnson, and he will also need to assume a larger role at PF than initially projected. As it stands now, Derrick Williams is set to be the team’s starting SF and AK the starting PF, but I would not be surprised in the slightest if Kirilenko ends up playing the majority of his minutes at PF due to potential defensive match-up issues with Williams at SF. It became apparent at the finale of last season that Williams is much more suited to play PF, and unless he was able to fundamentally alter his wing game and wing defense over the offseason, it may quickly be more feasible to switch Kirilenko and Williams in their respective positions.
I believe that AK-47 and Williams’ roles will be ambiguous on a nightly basis, as Kirilenko will likely assume the tougher defensive match-up between the opposing team’s SF and PF. Kirilenko’s pedigree for impressive defense could prove to be a difference maker in an already injury-plagued start to the season, and he will be relied upon to stay healthy – at least until Love and/or Rubio return.
Brandon Roy and Chase Budinger are also big time upgrades for the Wolves since last season, but their durability and consistency will define how great of an impact they will ultimately have for Minnesota this season.