The Minnesota Timberwolves started their play in the 2013 NBA preseason on Monday night, facing off against European powerhouse CSKA Moscow. The Wolves ended up in a dogfight, ultimately dropping the game by a score of 108-106 in overtime. There were a lot of things that stood out for the Wolves, but second-year guard Alexey Shved’s struggles were quite glaring.
Thrust into a role that he probably wasn’t ready for and that didn’t set him up for much success with all of the injuries in Minnesota last season, Shved struggled to find his niche as a rookie. In 77 games last season, Shved averaged 8.6 points, 3.7 assists, 2.3 rebounds and 0.7 steals in 23.9 minutes per game, but shot just 37.2 percent from the field and contributed to the Wolves’ outside-shooting woes by hitting on only 29.5 percent of his three-point attempts.
With a healthy and improved roster in Minnesota this year, though, the Wolves are looking for Shved to be more consistent and productive this season off of the bench. Though having him be in a better situation is important, Shved having fun when he’s on the floor is vital to his success.
In an interview with Jerry Zgoda of the Minneapolis Star Tribune, newly signed center Ronny Turiaf said, “If Alexey smiles, everything else takes care of itself. If he doesn’t smile, he’s a different player.” As Zgoda points out, that’s similar to the advice point guard Ricky Rubio gave to Shved in a game in late February of last season when he told Shved, “Change your face, be happy, enjoy it!”
Shved wasn’t smiling much on Monday night, though. In a little over 26 minutes on the floor, the guard finished with six points, four assist, one rebound, one steal and two blocks, but shot just 2-12 from the field and only 1-6 from three. He seemed to be pressing the issue far too often and wasn’t playing within the flow of this Wolves team.
In international play, Shved has shown that he’s a phenomenal basketball player and truly seems at home in those situations. That hasn’t been the case thus far in his NBA career, though. If a smile is all it takes, then he definitely needs to find joy in playing for the Wolves. If he doesn’t do something to turn it around in Minnesota, it’s hard to imagine him lasting very long.
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