Thursday, August 2, 2012

Keep an Eye on Alexey Shved in the Olympics

Stateside, Alexey Shved is not yet a known quantity, but the Russian guard has averaged 15 points, 9.5 assists and 3.5 rebounds through two contests in this year's Olympic games, posting 16 points and 13 assists as his national team dominated Great Britain 95-65.

Alexey Shved cannot bother with your defense. (

It is a small sample size, but something NBA fans would be wise to note. Shved is making the move from CSKA Moscow, Russia's premier basketball club, to the Minnesota Timberwolves when NBA action begins this fall.

At 6’6”, Shved has optimal height to play at either guard spot, though Ricky Rubio (assuming he fully recovers from the torn ACL he suffered last season) is entrenched as the Wolves’ starting point guard. That actually plays to the team’s advantage, since Shved plays mostly as a shooting guard, an unsettled position for the team in recent years. After shipping Wesley Johnson to thedesert, Minnesota is left with Malcolm Lee and the recently acquired, maybe-never-retired Brandon Roy to compete for the position.

A Washington Post profile mentioned general manager David Kahn’s intent to ease the 23 year old into NBA action, meaning Shved will learn from the bench. But Lee is not a starting-caliber player and head coach Rick Adelman will have to carefully manage Roy’s minutes due to his knee issues. So the possibility exists that Shved could make his way into the starting lineup in 2012-2013, much as Rubio began last season as a backup.

With starter’s minutes in Euroleague and CSKA play last season, Shved averaged 10.7 points and 3.1 assists per contest. With the T-Wolves, he’ll need to manage his turnovers (1.7 per game) and, ideally, make better shot selection from long range (40.6 percent from three) to earn the number of touches he’s seen in other leagues.

His weight could be another issue, with the WaPo profile pegging him at a rail-thin 160 pounds, while past measurements have put him in the 190-pound range.

That is the purpose of a simple entrance to pro basketball in America, though. Having gone undrafted two years ago, Shved improved his stock by patiently playing in his home country and showing up big in international contests. He is now set to join a playoff hopeful and could make sizable contributions for the Timberwolves. First, though, Shved is going to make all the noise he can for Russia in the Olympics.

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