As a sportswriter in 2011, it’s getting ever less bizarre to type the words “Andrei Kirilenko of CSKA Moscow” all the time; certainly this team’s fans want the NBA lockout never to end as AK-47 is leading an impressively outfitted Red Army through early Euroleague and PBL dominance.
Kirilenko was rewarded for his individual brilliance through two EL games by taking the first Player of the Month award of 2011-12. The locked-out Utah Jazzman has been good for per-game averages of 14.5 points on 62.5% shooting, 9.5 rebounds, 5.5 assists and 2.5 blocks. Notes the league’s official site: “The 30-year-old Kirilenko leads the 2011-12 Euroleague in performance index rating average (30), rebounding and blocks, and is also tied for fifth place in assists.”
CSKA Moscow’s prime addition in an off-season full of big name deals also bagged the Euroleague’s first Player of the Week trophy with an insane 17-point, 15-rebound performance in the Russian side’s 87-74 victory over Žalgiris Kaunas.
That week, he was also credit with the dunk of opening night…
…the block of opening night…
…and the assist of opening night.
Granted, the sole game played that evening was CSKA vs. Žalgiris Kaunas, but impressive nonetheless.
In week two of Euroleague play, Kirilenko contributed 12 points and six rebounds in just 22½ minutes of play as CSKA took something of a laugher over Brose Baskets Bamberg with a 94-74 win.
Incidentally, in his only PBL game played thus far, #47 contributed 12 points and seven rebounds in under 29 minutes in CSKA’s 73-68 victory over Eurochallenge side Triumph Lyubertsy.
But perhaps ultimately Kirilenko is most valuable to CSKA as a distraction. With this guy crushing in all statistical categories, only cessation of the lockout overseas will remind observers of those other players – you know, dudes like Milos Teodosic, Nenad Krstic, Darjus Lavrinovic, Viktor Khryapa, Ramunas Siskauskas…