Kirilenko's value soaring
Andrei Kirilenko continued on his recent hot streak for the Utah Jazz against the Portland Trail Blazers on Wednesday night, finishing with 22 points, 6 rebounds, 8 assists, 2 blocks and 2 steals while shooting 8-for-9 from the floor. Not only has Kirilenko been racking up blocks and steals in large numbers, he's missed only one shot in three of his past five games. His averages during that stretch: 18.0 points, 6.6 rebounds, 3.6 assists, 2.0 steals, 2.6 blocks and 71 percent shooting from the floor.
Take away his terrible December, and Kirilenko's having his best season in years. His field goal percentage is way up from last season and his climbing numbers in blocks and steals would suggest that he's feeling more energized than he had previously. He'll never be the player he seemed to be when he looked like a first-round fantasy pick back in 2003-04, but he's far more valuable than he is perceived to be at the moment. As I wrote in my Player Rater piece on Wednesday, if Kirilenko continues to play the way he has over the past month or so, he'll be as valuable as someone on the level of Joe Johnson the rest of the way.
As with all things in fantasy, there are risks with Kirilenko. He's perpetually injured, but looking back at his past few seasons, he has played between 67 and 72 games in each of them. He's missed seven games so far this season, and, as such, based on past history, he might not miss too many more. Personally, I think he's a great guy to go after, especially in roto-style leagues where his well-rounded stat-stuffing carries a bit more weight.
Monta Ellis, Warriors: 46 points (17-23 FG), 4 3-pointers against the Mavericks.|
Tyreke Evans, Kings: 32 points (11-18 FG), 7 rebounds, 8 assists versus the Spurs.
Stephen Jackson, Bobcats: 30 points (10-16 FG, 8-8 FT), 7 rebounds, 4 assists against the Lakers.
Kobe Bryant, Lakers: 5 points (2-12 FG), 6 assists against the Bobcats.|
Stephen Curry, Warriors: 6 points (1-6 FG), 3 assists versus the Mavericks.
Chris Duhon, Knicks: 2 points (1-6 FG), 2 rebounds, 2 assists against the Wizards.
Michael Beasley has looked pretty good since returning to the lineup for the Miami Heat. Note that he's averaging 20.0 points on better than 50 percent shooting against the Cleveland Cavaliers' tenacious defense this season, and is probably worth starting unless you have lots of preferable options on Thursday night. The Heat will be on the second night of a back-to-back, and Beasley played the fewest minutes of any starter on Wednesday. Speaking of matchups, Andre Miller has been terrible against the Spurs this season, averaging just 9.5 points per game on 18 percent shooting from the floor. He's been decidedly mediocre since posting his 52-point game against the Dallas Mavericks, and he probably belongs on your bench Thursday.
Seth Landman is a fantasy basketball analyst for ESPN.com.