On January 18, 1997, Andrei Kirilenko became the youngest player ever to compete in the Russian Superleague, scoring three points for his hometown Spartak Saint Petersburg against Spartak Moscow. After spending two seasons with Spartak Saint Petersburg, he joined CSKA Moscow in 1998. In his first season, he helped his new team win the Russian Superleague championship. He was also selected to participate in the Russian All-Star game, helping the West beat the East 138-107 and winning the slam dunk contest.
On June 30, 1999, at 18 years, 4 months, and 12 days, Kirilenko became the youngest European player at the time to be drafted in the National Basketball Association, when the Utah Jazz selected him with the 24th pick. However, he remained with CSKA Moscow for the next two seasons. In the 1999-2000 season, he helped his team win the inaugural championship of the Northern European Basketball League and its second Russian Superleague championship in a row. On April 23, 2000, he participated in his second Russian All-Star game, helping the West beat the East 122-111. Despite being the odds-on favorite to win the slam dunk contest, he finished second to Harold Dean of Lokomotiv Mineralnye Vody.
Andrei Kirilenko participated in the 2000 Summer Olympics as a member of the Russian national basketball team, which finished 8th in the tournament. On February 8, 2001, in his third season with CSKA Moscow, Kirilenko became the second player ever in the history of the Euroleague to record a triple-double with 13 points, 11 rebounds, and 10 steals against Lietuvos Rytas. He showed off his all-around skills in the European Championships, finishing in top ten in 7 out of 8 statistical categories.
Kirilenko joined the Utah Jazz in the 2001-02 NBA season. He was named to the first team on the NBA All-Rookie team. He has since emerged as one of the top young players in the NBA, and one of the league's top weak side defenders. He was selected to play as a reserve in the 2004 NBA All-Star Game in Los Angeles. In the 2003-04 NBA season, he ranked third in the league in blocked shots per game and fourth in the league in steals per game, becoming just the second player in NBA history to rank in the top five in both categories (David Robinson ranked first in blocked shots per game and fifth in steals per game in the 1991-92 NBA season). During the NBA offseason, Kirilenko plays for the Russian national basketball team.
Kirilenko became the leader of the Jazz in 2003 after John Stockton retired and Karl Malone left Utah to join the Los Angeles Lakers. He played and started in 78 of the Utah's 82 games and lead them to a 42-40 record. Utah missed the playoffs by one game behind the Denver Nuggets. He finished fifth in Defensive Player of the Year voting and fourth in Most Improved Player voting and was named to the second team on the All-NBA Defensive Team. Kirilenko lead the Jazz in many [seasonal] statistical categories:
- total points with 1284
- points per game with 16.5
- total rebounds with 629
- rebounds per game with 8.1
- blocks with 215
- blocks per game with 2.8
- steals with 150
- steals per game with 1.9
- free throws made with 392
- free throws attempted with 496
- three-pointers made with 68
- three-pointers attempted with 201
In the middle of the 2004-05 NBA season against the Washington Wizards, Kirilenko sustained a broken right wrist, sidelining him for the remainder of the season. Despite only playing in 41 of the Jazz' 82 games, he amassed enough blocked shots during the season to qualify as the league leader in blocks per game, and was named to the second team on the NBA All-Defensive Team.
In the 2005-06 NBA season Kirilenko was again among the league best shotblockers and defenders. He recorded a career high 10 blocks against Indiana on March 26 and finished first in the league with total blocks (220) and second in blocks per game with 3.2, just behind league leader Marcus Camby at 3.3. He was named to the first team on the NBA All-Defensive Team.
In close games, Kirilenko proved that his defense can win games, deflecting or blocking the potential game winning shot or lay-up. Kirilenko recently moved to the two-guard, or 'shooting guard' position, when Jerry Sloan opted to go with a larger lineup, giving Andrei more freedom with the ball in his hands, and utilizing his perimeter offensive skill set. Many experts feel that Kirilenko is only improving, considering he is still just 25 years of age. He is also a top fantasy basketball player due to his contributions to many statistics.
Kirilenko averaged 15.3 points, 8 rebounds, 1.5 steals, 3.2 blocks and 4.3 assists per game in the 2005-2006 season. For his NBA career, he averages 13.8 points, 6.5 rebounds, 1.6 steals, 2.6 blocks, and 2.6 assists per game.
Kirilenko is a versatile "big man" who can play either forward spot. He is good in both offense (13.8 points and 6.5 assists per game career averages) and defense. On offense, he is proficient in drawing fouls, passing, and possesses a quick first step. He is lauded for his defense, as of 2006 three times selected into the NBA All-Defensive Team or Second Team. Staples of Kirilenko's defensive power are his shot blocking, averaging 3.32 and 3.19 swats per game in the last two seasons, and his ball-hawking (1.58 career averages in steals).
His versatility is best shown in one of his most remarkable games. On January 3, 2006, against the Los Angeles Lakers, Kirilenko posted an amazing statline of 14 points, 8 rebounds, 9 assists, 6 steals, and 7 blocks. This was the third time in his career he racked up at least 5 in all of the other relevant categories. Arguably, his statline is one of the closest performances to a quintuple double in NBA history. It was also the first-ever regulation "5×6" — a game in which a player registers at least 6 points, 6 rebounds, 6 assists, 6 blocks, and 6 steals — since the NBA began recording blocks and steals in the 1973-74 season. In 1987, Hakeem Olajuwon had 38 points, 17 rebounds, 12 blocks, 7 steals, and 6 assists for the Houston Rockets in a double-overtime win over the Seattle Supersonics, the only other time a player has earned a 5×6.
The downside of Kirilenko's game is that he is also somewhat injury-prone (in the last two seasons, he appeared in just 110 of 164 possible regular season games) and his jump shot is a bit stiff. Nevertheless, Kirilenko is currently considered one of the best forwards in the NBA, especially on defense.
- Kirilenko wears uniform #47 and is thus nicknamed AK-47 after the ubiquitous Russian rifle. The infamous weapon was designed in his birthplace, the city of Izhevsk.
- Recorded his first career triple-double against the Toronto Raptors on January 17, 2006, posting 18 points, 16 rebounds and 11 assists, becoming the first Russian in NBA history to complete that milestone.
- Recorded his second career triple-double against the Sacramento Kings on March 25, 2006, posting 15 points, 14 rebounds and 10 blocks.
- Kirilenko shoots with his right hand but writes left-handed.
- His wife said in an interview that she allows him to sleep with another woman for one night a year ,
- However, his wife states that there is no "reciprocal" arrangement for her, and Kirilenko states he has no plans to take advantage of the agreement.
- June 30, 1999: Drafted by the Utah Jazz in the 1st round (24th overall) in 1999.
Awards and Accomplishments
- Official website
- NBA player page
- Player Page at basketball-reference.com
- Andrei Kirilenko Player Profile (InterBasket)