Photo - AFP/Emmanuel Dunand
By: Aj Mansour | KFAN.com
A mere 48 hours after officially signing his two year, $20 million contract with the Minnesota Timberwolves, Andre Kirilenko took to the Olympic stage and quickly answered any questions that Timberwolves fans might have directed towards general manager David Kahn regarding the 31-year old Russian hoopster.
The starting small forward for the Russian Federation men's basketball team, Kirilenko and fellow Timberwolves import Alexey Shved put up big numbers as Russia coasted to a 95-75 victory against the hometown favorite Great Britain men's team.
Kirilenko, who shot 14-for-17 from the floor, scored 35 points with 4 rebounds and 3 blocks. Running the point, Shved chipped in an additional 16 points and 13 assists.
"If I'm the Minnesota Timberwolves, I have a big, fat smile on my face," Russian coach David Blatt told media members in London following Russia's opening round match.
Kirilenko and Shved ran circles around the opponents Sunday evening connecting seven different times on back-door cuts, fast break buckets and half court sets.
"I think [Alexey's] doing a good job," Kirilenko told the international media. "Last year we played together. We've got connection. He knows when I'm going to cut. I know when he going to start driving so I give him space."
Head coach Rick Adelman and the Wolves hope that Kirilenko and Shved bring this chemistry across the pond following the Olympic Games.
Kirilenko took the 2011-2012 season off from the NBA as he opted to avoid a potential full season lockout in the NBA and signed a one-year deal to play with his native CSKA Moscow last October. Having seen his minutes and production decline in his final few years playing for Utah, many were unsure if "AK-47" would ever step foot in an NBA locker room again. Months later, Kirilenko was named the 2011-2012 Euroleaugue MVP. Sunday's performance in the opening round of the Olympics, was his first display for international audiences since the end of the 2010-2011 season in Utah.
"I feel great," Kirilenko said after Sunday's game. 'Look at me. I'm running like a young deer...I feel I should play at the highest level possible. If I'm not going back to NBA, I would probably feel sorry for myself over the next four or five years. I got a call and it was a very, very interesting offer."
Kirilenko & Shved will be joining a Timberwolves team that already has a fair amount of European flavor. Sunday, Kirilenko likened Rick Adelman's Wolves teams to those he has saw in the Euroleauge last season. Add in the international flavor from the likes of Shved, Nikola Pekovic and Ricky Rubio and you have a dangerous combination hoping that Kirilenko can fill a gaping hole.
"It's a great team [they're] creating," Kirilenko said of the Timberwolves squad. "Kevin has really started to turn into a superstar this year. Last year, a lot of my friends were watching the games, especially Minnesota and how they play. It's very, very energetic and nice."
Shved, Kirilenko and the Russian Federation men's team will take the court again Tuesday night against China.
Aj Mansour covers Minnesota Sports for KFAN.com. Feel free to leave comments and questions regarding this post in the space provided below. For Timberwolves' updates and breaking Timberwolves' news, follow Aj on Twitter. @AjMansourKFAN