David Thorpe is a guy who knows basketball, so when he talks (or in this case, writes) everyone would do well to listen. Here’s his take on Alexey Shved’s game so far in the NBA:
Shved’s moxie, toughness and basketball IQ have helped him fit right into Rick Adelman’s offensive system. But by no means has he been a sharpshooter. More troublesome, though, is that he’s been less than average on ball screens.
First of all, his decision-making with the ball in his hands on ball screens is bad. He often settles for long 2s or 3s after dribbling sideways across the court, or even a bit backward. The 3-point shot is already long without having your momentum flow backwards before shooting it. That’s the biggest reason he’s much better in spot-up shots than off the dribble.
His angle of attack on ball screens is also too often flat, instead of sharp, meaning he isn’t attacking the lead foot or shoulder of the big man hedging on defense. When he does, he gets into the lane easily and good things follow: short runners, layups or easy kick-outs to wide-open shooters. But poor angles mean he is not a threat to score or pass, and therefore the defense stays solid.
I’d also like to see Shved lower his hips at the point of attack, which will enable him to split the defenders easier or beat them with speed. He’s far too upright now to do so without being a huge turnover risk.
The numbers bear out what Thorpe says about Shved’s 3-point shooting: According to Synergy, he’s shooting just 27.6% on 3-pointers when he’s the pick-and-roll ball handler versus 36.5% when he’s spotting up. And I wouldn’t take issue with Shved’s angle of attack being too flat in the pick and roll, but I think you also can’t ignore the fact that the Wolves legendarily awful 3-point shooting also means that teams can clog the paint without fear of reprisal from distance. As Ben observed in his wrap-up of last night’s game, when the Wolves went small and forced Asik to cover Love on the perimeter, it opened up driving lanes for Shved, which he feasted on. Check out this pair of beautiful lay-ins:
But Love went 0-7 and the Wolves as a team only shot 25% from downtown, so the paint closed up eventually. It would behoove Shved to get lower and attack sharper, but it would help everyone if the Wolves could buy a basket from deep more than once every four times.