Kirilenko's value soaring

February, 4, 2010
02/04/10
9:30
AM ET

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.

Looking Back

WEDNESDAY, FEB. 3
HIGHLIGHTS
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.
LOWLIGHTS
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.
I should write about Joe Johnson more often. He's 17-for-18 from the line and is averaging 35.5 points per game in two games since I decided that he wasn't being aggressive enough offensively. Still, his rebounds and assists remain down during his past five games from their season levels, and the hot shooting probably won't last. If his past history is any indication, he'll never have more value than he does right now. … Neither Taj Gibson nor Tyrus Thomas saw much action in the Chicago Bulls' overtime loss to the Charlotte Bobcats, but it bears mentioning that Thomas was far more productive in his limited action and has more long-term potential. It's hard to imagine his minutes remaining under 20 per game when he's averaging 9.4 points, 6.2 rebounds, 1.2 blocks and 1.0 steals in just over 18 minutes per game in his pasts five contests; even if his minutes remain the same, it's tough to keep him out of your lineup with those numbers. … If Hedo Turkoglu continues to miss time for the Toronto Raptors, you might want to think about adding Antoine Wright for the short term if you need 3-point shooting. I've never been much of a Wright fan, but he's made 10 3-pointers in five games and will play big minutes when Turkoglu is out. … It was just another 20-point night for New Orleans Hornets guard Marcus Thornton. Amazingly, he's still owned in only 13.7 percent of fantasy leagues. With all of the Hornets' backcourt injuries, Thornton is going to see plenty of minutes during the next month or so, and needs to be owned in all leagues right now. … Tyreke Evans returned for the Sacramento Kings from his hip injury to post 32 points on some very efficient shooting in a two-point loss to the San Antonio Spurs. I'd say he looks fine going forward.

Looking Ahead

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.

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