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Kirilenko says Durant, Kobe tougher to guard than LeBron

Nov 1, 2013, 7:24 PM EDT

Kevin Durant, Kobe Bryant AP

Gary Payton said he found John Stockton tougher to guard than Michael Jordan because he knew Jordan would shoot while Stockton could score or pass. That left a lot of people shaking their head.

Andrei Kirilenko used the exact opposite logic when trying to discuss who the toughest players to guard are today in the NBA.

The Nets’ Kirilenko was speaking to the New York Post about the toughest guys to guard and he said Kevin Durant and Kobe Bryant over LeBron James because LeBron might pass.

“For me, personally? I would say Kevin Durant and Kobe [Bryant], because they’re very motivated to play with the ball,” Kirilenko said. “LeBron is way unselfish, and he will pass it as soon as the guy is open.

“Kevin and Kobe, unless the guy is wide open, like wide open and ready to shoot, they will keep going at you. They’ll keep going at you. That’s why it makes it harder to play against those guys.”

It’s a matter or perspective and, like the Payton comment, who are we to tell him who he thinks is more difficult?

Kirilenko is going to get his shot at LeBron for stretches on Friday night in a nationally televised game. Kirilenko has missed time with back spasms but is good to go Friday night.

The Nets are talking about this being a statement game for them, the Heat know no statements are made in November.

  1. ji8888 - Nov 1, 2013 at 7:33 PM

    Another Nets players talking out of his ass again?

    I’m no fan of the heat. But I can be a realist by saying Lebron is on the same boat being tougher to guard like Durand and Kobe.

    • psung26 - Nov 2, 2013 at 10:45 AM

      It’s his opinion.

      Also, I’m sure Kirilenko could concede LeBron “being on the same boat” as Kobe and Durant. But he was asked toughER to guard. Your comment is baseless because Kirilenko’s comment doesn’t even conflict with YOUR realist opinion.

  2. casualcommenter - Nov 1, 2013 at 7:55 PM

    Makes a lot of sense to me.

    As an individual defender, you’re more worried about a score-first player than an all-around player who facilitates. If you’re guarding LeBron, and he makes a nice pass to Dwyane Wade cutting to the basket instead of attacking you off the dribble, Wade’s defender looks bad (not you).

    If Kobe shoots a jumper over you and laughs in your face, or if Durant drives to the rim and dunks on you, YOU’RE the guy who looks bad. Those guys are trying to score on most possessions, so that gives you more issues than a guy who gets his teammates involved more like LeBron.

  3. antistratfordian - Nov 1, 2013 at 8:19 PM

    Interesting perspective. I think AK may have been traumatized too often by LeBron that he repressed those memories.

    LEBRON vs Kirilenko: 29.3 PTS, 7.9 AST, 8.6 REB. 8 W, 5 L.
    Best Game 1: 51 points, 8 assists, 5 rebounds
    Best Game 2: 40 points, 9 assists, 10 rebounds

    DURANT vs Kirilenko: 25.3 PTS, 3.5 AST, 5.9 REB. 7 W, 9 L.
    Best Game 1: 36 points, 3 assists, 7 rebounds
    Best Game 2: 33 points, 6 assists, 7 rebounds

    • kavika6 - Nov 2, 2013 at 3:26 AM

      So you and your numbers know more about guarding all-stars than Kirilenko?

      • antistratfordian - Nov 2, 2013 at 6:33 PM

        I think Kirilenko has a bad memory. Maybe too much vodka?

    • psung26 - Nov 2, 2013 at 10:37 AM

      These #’s are nearly worthless.

      Here’s the Cliffnotes: pIcking game logs against teams Kirilenko has been on where Lebron and Durant had their biggest games doesn’t mean what you think it means. You need to isolate plays were Kirilenko was directly guarding Lebron / Durant in that particular play and compile and report those #s.

      What you gave us is context void garbage, which from you derived equally useless commentary such as AK “repressing” bad memories.

      • antistratfordian - Nov 2, 2013 at 6:35 PM

        Hey, we’ve all been watching LeBron torch Kirilenko for years. Over and over and over again. I think Kirilenko might have a personal issue here…

  4. kb2408 - Nov 1, 2013 at 8:33 PM

    What did I just say in the previous blog? Players see things completely different than a fan does. They are the ones actually playing against Kobe, LeBron, Durant, etc……..

    • antistratfordian - Nov 1, 2013 at 9:02 PM

      I’m not convinced that he actually believes that. Either that or he has a bad memory. Between LeBron, Durant and Kobe – it is LeBron James that averages the most shots against Kirilenko. 21.8. Durant averages 17.8 shots vs Kirilenko. Kobe averages 20.3 shots vs Kirilenko.

      So his comment “they’ll keep going at you” – as if LeBron doesn’t – doesn’t ring true at all.

      LeBron averages 29/9/8 vs Kirilenko. He dropped 51 points and 8 assists on that dude! So maybe LeBron torching him all the time is the reason Kirilenko downplays it.

      • psung26 - Nov 2, 2013 at 10:41 AM

        LeBron didn’t drop 51 and 8 “on that dude.” Your #’s dont show that players got their numbers “against Kirilenko” and “vs Kirilenko.” They got it against Kirilenko’s TEAM.

        See above comment if you still don’t get it.

      • antistratfordian - Nov 2, 2013 at 6:37 PM

        No he got those against Kirilenko – his primary defender. Same thing with Kobe when he dropped 52 points and 3 assists on Kirilenko. It was AK who was assigned to guard both, for the most part. He just got lit up.

      • spthegr8 - Nov 2, 2013 at 11:47 AM

        @anti
        MAAAAAAAANNNNN GIVE IT A REST!!!! LeBron isn’t perfect. The second anybody say’s anything about him, you feel the need to come and defend him. Now you know what Kirilenko is thinking, even tho, it goes against what he was quoted saying. SMFH…LLS!!!!

      • antistratfordian - Nov 2, 2013 at 6:38 PM

        Don’t cry to me. Talk to AK. He’s the one with the faulty recall.

      • spthegr8 - Nov 2, 2013 at 11:49 AM

        @Anti
        Would you take a bullet for LeBron..????? Just wondering???

      • antistratfordian - Nov 2, 2013 at 6:41 PM

        Only figuratively.

    • ji8888 - Nov 2, 2013 at 2:28 AM

      ya but we see how they play on the court.

  5. nflcinbengals - Nov 1, 2013 at 8:44 PM

    I agree kb2408!

  6. babyfarkmcgeezax - Nov 1, 2013 at 10:38 PM

    No one is more difficult to defend than Luc Longley and George Muresan when taking glitch-aided quick fade-away threes from anywhere on the court in NBA Live 97, or Tom Chambers dunking from 3-point land in Lakers Vs. Celtics & the NBA Playoffs for Sega

  7. maikoch - Nov 2, 2013 at 3:14 AM

    Kobe Bryant has a case as one of the Top 10 players of all time. LeBron is borderline for the Top 50.

  8. basketballgod87 - Nov 2, 2013 at 8:04 AM

    ask kirilenko who the best player and i bet he say lebron

    • psung26 - Nov 2, 2013 at 10:43 AM

      Ask you who the best player is, and I bet you say Lebron. That much is clear…

      • basketballgod87 - Nov 2, 2013 at 3:32 PM

        yea it is goofy not close so what your point

  9. nflcinbengals - Nov 2, 2013 at 2:47 PM

    He would hand wash LBJ’s boxers!

  10. torontofalcon - Nov 2, 2013 at 3:44 PM

    You idiots posting LBJ’s numbers vs Andrei you need to make sure next time those are number vs him and not ones against the overall. When LBJ scored 51 vs Utah him and Andrei weren’t playing 1on1. Lbjs most inefficient numbers come when he’s guarded by AK47, Jimmy Butler, Kawhi Leonard, and Paul George. Whilst Kawhi and Jimmy being the best at it.

  11. antistratfordian - Nov 2, 2013 at 8:41 PM

    What we’re learning here is that misperception happens amongst the players as much as it does with the fans. This is also why player polls routinely have Kobe over LeBron in the clutch – fans also make the same mistake.

    So the issue here is that Kirilenko suffers from the same cognitive dissonance fans have – i.e. LeBron is not supposed to be able to pass that well for such an elite scorer (therefore he must not be an elite scorer) – or put another way, LeBron is so good at passing that people forget that he’s one of the greatest scorers in history.

    James is actually a better scorer than he is a passer, but people/players don’t perceive it that way. James has more game winning baskets than he does game winning assists, but people/players don’t perceive it that way.

    This is particular to LeBron because he’s the first scoring champion to come along that reminds us of Magic Johnson. He’s the first player to perfectly mix Michael Jordan and Magic Johnson. Collectively, we’re not used to it. We don’t exactly know how to process or categorize him – so fans/players come out and say things that don’t add up, like what Kirilenko is saying here.

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