Return Of The Captain: Viktor Khryapa vs. Khimki

Due to multiple injuries and lengthy rehab, Viktor Khryapa's last two seasons have been relatively subdued. Many have also been quick to write off the veteran, which is why his return to the court after the New Year has been all the more enjoyable. Khryapa wasted no time getting back into shape and taking Demetris Nichols's spot in the rotation.

Monday's game against Khimki proved an excellent litmus test for Khryapa. Moscow Region boasts one of Europe's top teams, but Rimas Kurtinaitis's men couldn't solve the Russian big man, who played his best game of the season in the derby.

Fans got to see a glimpse of the old Khryapa on Monday, the big man who starred for the Russian national team and CSKA for so many years. He earned his Week Twenty MVP, showing off the skills that put him among Europe's top forwards. In this week's edition of Breaking It Down, Konstantin Kucher takes a closer look at his performance vs. Khimki.

Reliable Defense
We all know Khryapa as a rough, tenacious player who hounds the ball and isn't afraid to be physical. Against Khimki, he once again anchored CSKA's defense. For 26 minutes, neither team bothered much with defense. But Viktor's appearance on the court midway through the 3rd quarter put an end to CSKA's carefree approach.

Khimki's offensive efficiency immediately went into a nosedive with Khryapa on the floor. The turning point in the game occurred between the 26th and 36th minutes of the game as CSKA grabbed a double-digit lead thanks to Khryapa's leadership on the defensive end. 

3-Point Shooting
Forwards need to be able to shoot the '3' to play in Dimitris Itoudis's system. De Colo, Teodosic and Higgins often shred the defense by driving the lane. It's one of CSKA's most effective options on offense. But it works best when there are forwards on the perimeter that can knock down the '3'. When that happens, the opposing team can't help as much in the paint. If they do hedge too much, De Colo and Teodosic are always ready to get the ball to someone with an open look from downtown.

Prior to the game vs. Khimki, Khryapa had struggled with his shot. But he showed his skill and mojo in the derby, making four of his five attempts from the field. More importantly, each of his baskets came from outside the paint and were scored during the Red-Blues' big run.

Court Vision
His trademark assists were even more dangerous. Khryapa finished with five dimes, more than Teodosic (4), De Colo (2) and Jackson (2). He also did not commit a single turnover, which helped him finish with the highest efficiency rating. 

The CSKA veteran played an excellent game against Khimki. One has to hope that we'll see this type of play from him in the future. If Khryapa can keep up his current form, the Army Men will have little trouble in the frontcourt.