Utah Jazz: Where Does Andrei Kirilenko Rank Among Jazz Players of the Past?
With the end of the 2010-2011 NBA season drawing to a close for the Utah Jazz, there is a chance that Andrei Kirilenko has played his last game for the team. Unable to play due to injury, it looks like he will not play again this season and his career with the Jazz could come to an unceremonious end.
The contract that he signed after the 2004-2005 season expires at the end of this year, and it remains to be seen where he fits in the future plan of the Utah Jazz.
With the exception of Carlos Boozer, no player has polarized fans in Utah as much as Kirilenko over the last few years. Due partly to his maximum contract that many fans felt he did not live up to, and partly to not returning to the high level of play that he set early in his career, Jazz fans have a wide range of opinions regarding how valuable to the team he has been.
Love him, hate him or if you are somewhere in between, let's see how he stacks up against other Jazz players of the past. The comparisons are broken down generally by position because over the years, Kirilenko has played all of them.
At the end of the slideshow let me know where you think he ranks, what he has meant for the team, and what he and the Jazz should do this offseason.
Andrei Kirilenko's Statistics
Andrei Kirilenko was arguably one of the most athletic players the Jazz have ever had. It did not take long for fans to notice his jumping, finishing and blocking abilities.
Kirilenko was drafted in 1999 and joined the team from Europe in 2001. In his first season he played with Stockton and Malone and quickly became a fan favorite.
His career statistics include:
- Scoring—12.4 points per game
- Rebounds—5.6 rebounds per game
- Assists—2.8 per game
- Steals—1.4 per game
- Blocks—2.0 per game
Other career highlights:
- Named to the 2004 NBA All-Star game
- Led the NBA in total blocks (220) in the 2005-06 season, and blocks per game (3.3) the following year
- One of only two players to record multiple 5-by-5 (at least five in five statistical categories in one game) games with three, and the last player since 2006 to record one
- NBA All-Rookie team in 2001-02 and NBA All-Defensive team in 2005-06
Kirilenko's play was often higher than his statistics suggested. He was one of the most versatile players in Jazz history.
The Untouchables: Stockton, Malone, Maravich, Dantley, Griffith
There is a reason why the jerseys of these five players hang in the rafters at the Energy Solutions Arena.
For different reasons, there is no comparing to them.
John Stockton is the all-time league leader in assists and steals, and Karl Malone is second in all-time NBA scoring.
Pete Maravich was one of the most electric players the league has ever seen. Adrian Dantley averaged over 30 points in a season twice, and there was only one Dr. Dunkenstein.
Of these five players, only Darryl Griffith is not yet in the NBA Hall of Fame.
It would be unfair to compare any Jazz player and most NBA players to this group.
The Utah Jazz Big Men
Mark Eaton, Thurl Bailey, Greg Ostertag and Antoine Carr are just a few of the players in this category.
Eaton was named to the NBA All-Defensive team twice and led the league in blocks in four different seasons. He was named to the 1989 All-Star game and is in the top 100 of all time in rebounds.
Thurl Baily is known now for being a broadcast announcer, but put together a nice career in his playing days. The seventh overall pick in 1983 NBA draft averaged 12.8 points and 5.1 rebounds per game.
Greg Ostertag manned the middle for the Jazz for 10 seasons. He was the starting center on the teams with Stockton and Malone that made it to the NBA Finals. He averaged 4.6 points and 5.5 rebounds per game.
Antoine Carr came off the bench and was an instant fan favorite, who usually provided a spark. "The Big Dawg" played for six NBA teams and averaged 9.3 points and 3.4 rebounds per game.
The Jazz Guards
Jeff Hornacek, Rickey Green, Jeff Malone, Howard Eisley, Deron Williams and Raja Bell are included in this group.
The best of these, Jeff Hornacek was a pivotal piece of the Western Conference Championship teams with Stockton and Malone. Before joining the Jazz, he consistently beat the Jazz as a member of the Phoenix Suns. He spent seven seasons with the Jazz and averaged 14.5 points per game for his career. He won the NBA three-point shootout twice at All-Star weekend.
Rickey Green was known as "The Fastest of Them All." He played seven years with the Jazz and averaged 9.4 points and 5.5 assists per game for his career. He played in the 1984 All-Star game and led the league in steals for two straight seasons. He was replaced on the Jazz by John Stockton.
Howard Eisley spent his time in Utah as the backup point guard to John Stockton. He proved to be a solid role player and averaged 6.5 points and 3.5 assists per game. He was with the team for six total seasons and spent 12 years in the league.
Drafted with the third pick in the 2005 NBA draft, Deron Williams was supposed to be the next great Jazz point guard. He played five-and-a-half seasons with the team. He is a two-time All-Star and has averaged 17.2 points and 9.2 assists for his career. He was traded midseason for young players and draft picks.
Raja Bell has had two stints with the team. The first time around he was part of the miracle team that just missed the playoffs the year after Stockton retired and Malone left for the Lakers.
He has struggled this season in his return to the team.
For his career, he has averaged 10.1 points per game and is known for his tough defense. He was named to the All-Defensive team two seasons in a row.
The Utah Forwards
Bryon Russell, David Benoit, Paul Millsap and Carlos Boozer are some of the forwards who have played for the Jazz.
Bryon Russell played with Stockton and Malone and spent nine seasons with the team. He was one of the second-round picks that have played significant minutes for the Jazz. He was a good role player who was often asked to clear out for Karl Malone. He ended his career with 7.9 points per game.
David Benoit signed with the Jazz as a free agent in 1991 and stayed with the team for five seasons. He was a good complement to the Mailman and averaged seven points per game for his career.
Paul Millsap is perhaps the best second-round find in Jazz history. He has spent the last five seasons with the Jazz and gets better each year. He is known for his tough play and his mid-range shooting touch. He has a career high of 46 points scored against the Miami Heat earlier this season. His average has risen each season and he is currently averaging 17.4 points and 6.7 rebounds per game.
Carlos Boozer was signed amidst some controversy as a free agent in 2004. He is a two-time All-Star and has averaged 17.3 points and 10.1 rebounds per game. He is best known for frustrating Jazz fans and missing a lot of games due to injury. The reincarnation of Stockton to Malone with he and point guard Deron Williams never came to pass, and he left the team as a free agent last summer.
So Where Does Andrei Kirilenko Rank?
So after all of that, where does Kirilenko fit in? Who have I left out?
At times in his career, he has been a dominant defender, a good scorer and has played every position on the court.
Where does he rank? What has been his role with the team? Will he be back with the Jazz? What is your best memory of Andrei Kirilenko?
Leave me a comment and let me know what you think.
All Statistics courtesy of Basketball Reference.com