Alexey Shved had been an international prospect since his teenage years before joining the Minnesota Timberwolves last year. Now in his second year, he will turn 25 in December, and he must significantly improve his game. Shved’s transition to the NBA has been rough, but he should get a decent amount of playing time this year and will have the chance to further adjust.
Shved’s game is fairly similar to Ricky Rubio’s. He is a tall guard who passes the ball extremely well but has had issues with his shot. Rubio is a better passer and a far better defender than Shved, but unlike Rubio, Shved was known as a gifted shooter before coming to the NBA. Unfortunately for Shved, the Timberwolves already have Rubio, and he is a far more developed player at this point. It would also be hard for the Timberwolves to play Shved and Rubio together, as having a backcourt comprised of two sub 40 percent shooters would be an offensive disaster.
Shved should see minutes at both the point and shooting guard positions this year, backing up Rubio and Kevin Martin. If Shved’s shot can improve this year, he should earn more playing time, as the Wolves really need shooting. Shved shot far more threes than any other shot last season and converted on just 29.5 percent of them. The Wolves do need more three point shooting, but even at the international level, Shved was never an outstanding three-point shooter. If he continues to shoot poorly, he should avoid taking so many threes.
The potential for Shved to be an effective NBA shooter is still there and he may yet reach it, but he must do so soon or else he will be buried on the bench. If his play this year is comparable to last year’s play, the Wolves will be significantly worse with him on the court. As previously mentioned, playing Shved at shooting guard with Rubio would hurt the offense, and playing him with J.J. Barrea would kill their defense. A backcourt of Shved at point guard and Kevin Martin would also be terrible defensively. As the Wolves don’t have many other options at guard, he will likely get minutes unless he is completely awful from the field.
While Shved hasn’t impressed during preseason play, he did play well in Eurobasket competition this summer. Neither preseason nor Eurobasket stats will translate directly to the regular season, but at least we know Shved is still capable of shooting over 45 percent from the field. Shved will most likely shoot better this season. It’s important to remember that even though Shved is 24 years old, he really only had one season of heavy play with a high level European team, so he should get better with experience. If he doesn’t, he still has an interesting set of skills as a great passer and ball handler with a thin but speedy 6-foot-6 frame. Those assets are attractive to some teams, but Shved doesn’t really do anything much better than Barrea at the point guard spot, and using Shved as a shooting guard who can’t shoot doesn’t seem like a long-term option.