Rejoining via the Timberwolves, “AK47” has been up to his old statistical tricks. Kirilenko is now averaging 13.9 ppg, 7.4 rpg, 3.9 apg, while also contributing 2 steals and 1.5 blocks per game.
On two consecutive games, Kirilenko has had to deal with the league’s top 2 players: LeBron James and Kevin Durant. One can argue that there isn’t a more jarring reminder that this isn’t CSKA anymore.
Recently, the versatile forward was interviewed by Alexander Chernykh. The subject matter involved what it’s like to defend LeBron James, considered by many to be the best player on the planet.
Asked about how he sees his match-ups with James, Kirilenko responded with,”They are different. After all, it doesn’t happen every day that you get to face the best basketball player in the world.So each of these games… No, it is not a challenge, but a mini-duel”.
Known for being among the NBA’s stingier defenders, Kirilenko has some experience when it comes to shutting down elite opponents. The most interesting take-away from this interview was Kirilenko’s description of a rare eye-to-eye instance with the game’s best player:
“The most interesting thing happens when you manage to meet eyes with him. Then sometimes you can tell what he is going to do. But right away you realize that he has already guessed your plans and is going do something else now.”
The 6’9″ Kirilenko has convinced most analysts and fans that he has lost not one step in his time away from the league. With AK47 seemingly still minding his defensive P’s and Q’s (and James only just reaching his prime), Wolves/ Heat match-ups have just become admittedly interesting.
Mohamed Abdihakim is a journalism student at Florida Atlantic University. He is a Phoenix Suns fan, who is not prepared for the possibility of Nash winning a title in a Lakers jersey. Mohamed is also an editor at Hoops Nation and contributes to Les Snobs. Interests include International basketball, Mad Men, and blues music. Nearly all stats are credited to Hoopdata or Basketball-Reference.
Twitter handle: @Abdi_hakim