What Alexey Shved can bring to the Wolves
Danny Chau has been driving the Alexey Shved bandwagon for as long as I’ve known Danny. He writes for Hardwood Paroxysm and has a fantastic knowledge of everything that is Alexey Shved on a basketball court. I asked him to give a brief scouting report on Shved so Wolves fans can get more familiar with his game. You can follow Danny on Twitter here.
I just got through finishing a couple victory laps around my house. Russian guard Alexey Shved has agreed to a deal with the Wolves. Get excited.
Shved has become a more familiar name this summer thanks to the interest from several NBA teams, but scouts have been gawking at Shved’s potential for more than half a decade. It wasn’t that long ago that he was dominating Europe’s youth circuit and thought of as a potential lottery pick in the NBA draft. The Wolves are looking at a legit 6’6” combo guard with dynamite athleticism and creating ability. Something of a revelation last season was Shved’s fantastic 3-point percentage in the Euroleague (50 percent). This probably won’t translate directly (especially considering the difference in distance between the NBA/FIBA 3-point lines), something Shved himself admitted to in an interview with Euroleague.net:
“I don’t think that the shot is my strongest asset! I like best to be in pick-and-roll situations; I like to pass the ball. It just happened that I have good shooting percentages in the Euroleague. If you look at my stats in other tournaments, I am not shooting as well. I can just say that it’s great that I am making 50% of my shots.”
Indeed, Shved’s most translatable skill in the NBA will be his ability to run the pick and roll. He will likely flourish in the wide-open lanes, taking advantage of his incredible quickness and ball-handling skills to knife his way through defenses. At 6’6”, his greater field of vision allows him to make some difficult passes over the defense. Those who have watched him play in international tournaments (and in the upcoming Olympics) should be impressed by how well he can throw a crosscourt pass. Since Shved has experience playing both on and off the ball, we could be seeing a Ricky Rubio/Alexey Shved backcourt fairly soon, which would instantly be one of the most engaging (and adorable) backcourts in the league.
Oh, and did I mention how athletic the guy is? I can’t imagine how excited the Wolves’ coaching staff will be once they realize throwing backdoor alleyoops to their combo guard will be a viable offensive option.
Of course there are a few noticeable downsides. If you’ve seen Shved at all, it’s fairly obvious how skinny the guy is. I don’t think there’s a way to spin that, though in all fairness to Alexey, he’s gotten a teensy bit bigger in the last few years. His thinness will surely play a role in his defense. He currently stands no chance against a good, hard screen, and he has a poor wingspan so he won’t be making up for lost ground like his fellow countryman Andrei Kirilenko. Still, his size and good lateral quickness should mitigate the issue. How his thinness (but not frailness) will affect the way he finishes around the rim in the NBA remains to be seen, but for naturally skinny guys, it’s not so much about weight as it is about bone density. Here’s hoping his bones are made of diamonds.
What I respect most about Shved (and why I believe Minnesota will be quick to embrace him) is he’s been tested since he was a teen at the highest levels with some of the best and strictest coaches in Europe. At the peak of his hype, he was a one-way player, a reckless offensive savant until he was disciplined by CSKA Moscow head coach Ettore Messina, who served as a consultant to Mike Brown for the Los Angeles Lakers last season. (Nikos Varlas of Eurohoops.net has a great piece on Messina’s tough love.) Perhaps Shved has Messina to blame for his draft stock dropping to the point of going undrafted in 2010. But he grew up from being a wildly talented and reckless player who got no burn off the bench to becoming one of the most promising guards in Europe. He’s come ready to play, and has earned his stripes. He’s spent his youth shut out in the cold Russian winters, honing his craft, waiting for his time. I’ve heard the horror stories about Minnesota winters with -50 degree wind chills. Somehow, I think Shved will be OK in the cold.