Kirilenko Joins 1K Steal, 1K Block, 2K Assist Club
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Timberwolves forward Derrick Williams seemed to marvel for a second when told teammate Andrei Kirilenko was about to join exclusive company. With one more steal, he was told, Kirilenko would become the 15th player in NBA history with 1,000 steals, 1,000 blocks and 2,000 assists.
That milestone came Friday in New Orleans, as Kirilenko picked up a pair of steals in the first quarter during the Wolves 104-92 loss against the Hornets. For Williams, who grew up on the West Coast and started watching Kirilenko play in the league when he was about 10 years old, getting to play alongside him as a teammate simply gives further perspective on how Kirilenko put up those types of numbers across the board during his career.
“He’s a glue guy that we need,” Williams said. “He’s out there scoring points, rebounding, passing the ball, getting steals, blocking shots. He’s out there filling the stat sheet, man, and you need guys like that on your team. Everybody needs somebody like him.”
This group of 15 is elite company. Names like Kareem Abdul-Jabbar, Kevin Garnett, David Robinson, Hakeem Olajuwon, Robert Parish and Patrick Ewing are on the list. So are Julius Erving, Vlade Divac and current Timberwolves assistant coach Jack Sikma.
Versatility is nothing new in Kirilenko’s game. When he played in youth tournaments growing up, sometimes he would earn defensive accolades and other times he’d be recognized for his offensive efforts.
During his decade in the NBA, Kirilenko has done a little bit of everything. Three times in his career he’s recorded 5x5 games—registering at least five points, rebounds, steals, blocks and assists in one game. Since he’s been with the Timberwolves this season, Kirilenko has seemingly been able to adjust his game to what his team needs at any given time.
“The different games present different flows for the game,” Kirilenko said. “And in some games you need, let’s say Oklahoma game you need more defense because Durant is such a deadly shooter and deadly player. So you have to concentrate on him more.”
Wolves center Nikola Pekovic said Kirilenko has “been bringing everything.” His experience in the league in the locker room and on the court has helped his teammates just like his numbers on the stat sheet make him such a well-rounded player.
Assistant coach Terry Porter said this particular milestone kind of sums up his productivity throughout his career.
“He’s a very complete player as far as his ability to impact the game in so many ways when you talk about getting steals, sharing the basketball, getting blocks and rebounding,” Porter said. “He’s really done a good job, and he’s one of the best in our league when it comes to his ability to do multiple things.”
Kirilenko admits the personal achievements aren’t what drives him—they simply come along with the territory in helping the team win. Still, he said it’s an honor to be named in groups like this.
“I think it’s nice to have; I think for being a long time in the league and playing on such a high level, it’s worth a lot,” Kirilenko said. “Not a lot of players can stay on that level for a long time. It’s nice to have.”
He’s a difference-maker that continues to impact the Wolves with his play each night. It’s the type of lead-by-example material that not only helps put the team in position to win, but it also shows his younger teammates ways to approach the game each night.
“He has been luck to us,” Pekovic said. “Huge experience.”
“The whole year, he’s been locked in on the defensive side and he’s brought a whole physical presence out there a little bit more and raised our intensity,” Williams said. “So we owe him a lot.”